There is an age-old fable about a chicken and a pig and their involvement in a ham and eggs breakfast. The chicken is involved, while the pig is committed! Although the difference between the thinking about starting a business stage and the committed to starting a business stage may not be as dramatic as the chicken and pig, it does point out the fundamental difference between the two stages.
Another difference is the transition from involved to committed. For the chicken and pig, there is a significant demarcation. The difference between thinking about and actually committing to starting the business may be subtler. It may involve staying up very late at night or missing the weekend golf outing with the boys or gals. Instead, the entrepreneur may be spending that time developing plans, to-do lists, and prioritizing activities. It certainly should involve discussing the business with outside, objective individuals who are not afraid to offer candid opinions.
Probably the most critical element to clearly understand during the commitment phase, while there is still time to stop, is the impacts on the entrepreneur’s personal life, security, and loved ones. It easy to nod in agreement with the statement that “Nothing is as easy as it first seems.” However, for startups, the statement should be “It will be considerably harder and take much longer than I ever imagined.” In all probability, the business will require some capital investment and may become an all-consuming activity. However, at the same time, the entrepreneur and their family must eat, have a place to live, have health and other forms of insurance, be able to pay utility bills, and cover other regular and unexpected expenses.
As discussed in other articles in this collection, revenue always seems to be delayed, but bills always appear right on time! Similar but more dramatic is the notion that if the plane is at the end of the runway and is not off the ground, it is too late to abort. Understanding the impacts of delays or potential failures is a necessary component that cannot be taken lightly during the commitment phase.
Some successful entrepreneurs and investors will discuss the necessity of being “all-in.” Entrepreneurs will hear stories of other entrepreneurs who maxed out their credit cards, totally depleted their retirement and children’s college accounts and even sold their car titles. Some of these stories may be true. Most will be told by people who had to walk to and from school uphill in both directions during blizzards. The problem with being “all-in” is that failure no longer becomes an option, and there can be a total loss of objectivity with emotion taking over. Entrepreneurs must be passionate but not emotional. Tears cloud the eyes and distort vision.
The articles included in this stage are intended to help the entrepreneur think through what commitment to the business means. Many of the articles included in the starting a company stage are also included in this listing. The basic issues covered in those articles need to be constantly revisited. It is easy to continue down a path, forgetting why you started the journey and your original assumptions.