Starting a business can be the most exciting thing in the world. It can also be crushingly difficult. The challenges that need to be overcome, from accessing capital to proving your business plan to deciding whether to leave your current job, can seem endless.
But just because the road is tough doesn’t mean it has to be lonely. ATB’s Dustin Paisley recently sat down with Andrew Obrecht of YYC Cycle to discuss common roadblocks entrepreneurs face—and how Obrecht was able to overcome them and grow his business to a team of 265 people and five locations.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” says Obrecht. “One that’s challenging, but that’s what makes it so rewarding.”
Here are four tips from Obrecht for entrepreneurs who are just starting out.
1. Get to know your numbers.
Most people find ideas, passion, and creativity more exciting than spreadsheets. Most people are not entrepreneurs.
“Go over the numbers,” says Obrecht. “Go over the numbers, go over the numbers, go over the numbers.
“It’s very exciting to have that idea and entrepreneurial fire, but you need to understand your vision.”
That means quantifying and analyzing every aspect of your business plan. It might not be fun, but developing an in-depth understanding of your plan’s numbers can save you untold headaches down the road.
2. Take feedback to heart—the right way.
New entrepreneurs often reach out to Obrecht for feedback on their businesses. He’s always happy to give it, but he sometimes wonders whether it falls on deaf ears.
“They’re so sure they’ve done all the research and they’ve done all the math and even if someone is showing them a stop sign, they won’t even see it,” he says. “They’ll pass right by because they’re so fired up about their vision.”
Learning to take constructive feedback from mentors, employees, and customers was a big part of Obrecht’s education in the school of hard knocks.
“Thank the person for caring enough to share it,” he advises. “They might just have prevented you from a big slip-up or obstacle or that punch you didn’t see coming that would knock you out.”
At the same time, Obrecht says, don’t let constructive feedback tarnish your passion.
“Don’t let anybody steal your dream!” he says. “You have to know that what you’re doing is what you want to do.”
3. Keep your eyes on your purpose.
There’s no denying that money is an important part of the world of business. But making it your top priority is not a route to success, according to Obrecht.”
“If money is happiness, you’re going to be infinitely chasing happiness,” he says. “I think there has to be a deeper rooted purpose for you doing what you do.”
4. Develop your systems.
One key step to growing your business is reducing your role in day-to-day operations to free up your time. That means building organized, formal systems that allow your team to replace what you do—or at least a portion of it.
“Far too often, entrepreneurs become really great firefighters,” says Obrecht. “If you’re really just putting out fires rather than taking a step back and creating a system to prevent future fires and implementing that system, you’re always going to be there with a firehose.”
For more tips on starting, growing, and running a business, join ATB at EMERGE on March 23. More info is available here.