What worked then isn’t working now? Perhaps you need to change some of your Formerly Outlooks (FCO’s). Small business strategies are different.
FCO #1 My corporate experience translates directly to the needs of my small business.
That corporate skill of managing a budget (with money that someone else gave you) and modifying it by 10% up or down each year. It’s good experience, yes. But the Conquering Entrepreneur will build a budget from scratch, based on money she brought in herself. Here’s another example: You may have supervised people you didn’t hire. But what do you need to hire for in your small business?
FCO#2 I know about taking risks.
Risking your reputation, or your next promotion, or the size of your raise is one thing. Risking the house and the retirement funds and the kids’ education is another thing entirely.
FCO#3 I know the game.
But the game is not the same. Unless you were the CEO or partner in a large firm, your focus was probably inward, about process and aligned goals and hitting some targets. You were playing in a protected space—even if was the Superdome. The entrepreneur looks out—to the customers, where to find them, how to serve then. It’s an outside game.
FCO#4 I know what it takes to win.
Once you know it’s an outside game, you see that the rules and score keeping are different. Corporate winning is often systems-driven—market share, profit margins, beating the analysts’ prediction. The entrepreneur’s win is market-driven: get customers, get cash flow. Then you can worry about gross revenue and better profit margins.
FCO#5 Business challenges just scale with size.
Bigger business, bigger challenges. Does it follow that smaller businesses just have smaller challenges?
Nuh-unh. Smaller businesses have different challenges. As a chemical engineer with 30 years in the (BIG) oil business, we learned that what works in the lab doesn’t necessarily work so well in a scaled-up production process. I’ll spare you the details. And it’s also true that the way things behave when they are very big are not the same way they behave when they are smaller. Think “too big to fail” vs. community banks. Or the quantum effect where thick wires heat up but thin ones cool off when a current runs through. Small business management has some different skill sets
FCO#6 There’s a great unmet need, and I’ve got the answer for it.
Breaking it to you gently…you may have the answer. You may even have a great new answer (which is what my 30 years in R&D was all about).
But until your customers have a problem to solve, they will not respond to your solution. When they do have a problem to solve, they may find you or notice you and pause to see if you’re a fit. If you have oh-so-clever marketing waiting for them.
FCO#7 Who is the go-to person for this? Get ‘em in here!
Finding the right resources is harder when you have to search them out on your own. Your people network may not all you need it to be at first. I was ecstatic to find a reliable IT person who would come to my home office. I had an IT department!
The Formerly Corporate person has to change these outlooks. And find new bearings. Is the play on a field, or a court, or a board, or a card table? You need a rulebook, other players, a scout, spectators (they pay the bills). And you need a coach.
Because you’ll have to shift your mindset, and your skills, to succeed in your own business.