By Younas Chaudhary
Over a decade ago, on a sunny cold January afternoon, I remember watching family members place cold towels on a middle-aged salesman’s shoulder and neck to give him relief from anxiety.
They were trying to relieve him of stress from ongoing negotiations involving a simple property sale transaction. At the time, I sat by quietly on a sofa and observed that business is clearly not for everyone.
Entrepreneurship is not for all of us, and it is never an 8 to 5 gig. It is stressful—believe me, I have experienced and still do experience stress—but over time I have trained my mind to handle stressors, small and big. My tactic is to talk to myself and resolve the problem internally; however, my children say that, due to my wife’s health issues, I should be seeking advice from a professional therapist!
For decades, I worked without watching a clock, and that is indeed the nature of business. Business requires intense passion, consistent hard work, an innovative mind, and a vision for the future.
If you are looking at a clock and are planning to go home at a pre-determined time, establishing, operating, or maintaining a business is not your cup of tea and is not for you.
One needs to invest a lot of time, energy, and work on an idea in order to scale it and make it profitable. Data shows that 90% of all startups fail, and of those that succeed, only 40% make profits. Being a businessman requires the instinct to take risks, and you must be mentally prepared and conditioned to lose money, as business endeavors rarely succeed.
When I started out in business four decades ago, my roots and my culture were very different from American capitalism. But once I learned the basics, I readily assimilated to Western business practices.
I did quickly realize, though, as I scaled my businesses and went into real-estate along with oil and gas, that a normal routine would not be possible for me anymore. I traveled most of the time and missed the early years of my first two children. My passion to build, sustain, and grow my business was like getting an adrenaline shot! I went from one challenge to another, winning a deal here, losing another there, talking to lenders, visiting oilfields, and investing in real estate in the US and in Canada. This required the sacrifice of quality time with family and an attitude of not looking at the clock.
And I had to learn to manage people from different backgrounds. In an eight-hour timeframe, thus, I had to be like a chameleon changing from sophisticated to diplomatic, unfriendly to friendly, and learning to maneuver multiple tasks at the same time.
For folks who think that successful businessmen become rich because somebody hands them money, I can assure you that is simply a foolish thought. Their success comes from hard work, discipline, the willingness to take risks, and the ability to deal with disappointments.
There are no complete businessmen, and all of us have our strengths and weaknesses. Some are indecisive and lose deals by procrastinating and wasting time, while others are sharp shooters who are less analytical and hastily get into deals fraught with losses.
Decision-making skills are key to successful businessmen, and sometimes even our best decisions can fly against us. For instance, I recently decided to use one of our own drilling rigs to drill a well instead of hiring one from an outside vendor. But we ended up losing a lot of money and time by drilling for days without making enough hole. This bad decision was mine, and I stood firm on being accountable for it and did not push the blame onto my staff.
Managing a business is a balancing act, and it is not easy to establish, maintain, and grow it at the same time. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when considering whether perhaps you should not start a business:
1. Never venture into something without passion.
2. If you do not have an audacious idea, budget, or a path to make money, do not go for it.
3. You have to be consistent and disciplined even though the world will tell you romantic tales of startup cultures and how people became billionaires from garages.
4. You cannot live by the clock if you are really passionate and enjoy your business.
5. You need to be able to adapt to changing situations; for instance, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us how we had to shed our old business models, ways of thinking, and innovate quickly.
6. If you get cold feet and are risk-averse, do not waste time and money on business even if you have the most innovative idea.
7. Lastly, just because someone you know became successful as a businessman, do not think that you can necessarily become one too. There are no quick replicable formulas you can steal here!
You can connect with me here and also get a glimpse of my best-selling book “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.”
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.