How Long Does It Take to Build a Business? 

By Kimberley Borgens

You are a new entrepreneur and you are feeling like there is just so much to learn, do and understand.

What comes first, then what comes next and how long is all of this going to take before I am successful? 

The first thing you want to do is define for yourself what success looks like for you.  

  • Does success look like a certain amount of clients in a year? 
  • Does success look like earning a certain amount of gross revenue in a year?  
  • Does success look like getting paid a certain amount per month or week from your business? 
  • Does success look like you are reaching all the goals you set? 
  • Does success look like you are delegating out all the things you don’t need to be doing? 

Discover and layout what success looks like for you and then create your vision around what success looks like in a way that works just for you. 

There are very few overnight successes in business. Is it possible? Yes. But less likely (for the most part) to have overnight success for most entrepreneurs.

So how long might it take for you to become a successful business?

They say it is about two to four years for you to start to make a profit in business. Every business is different and there is nothing stopping you from becoming completely successful in a couple of years. Most people can see themselves becoming a success somewhere between five and seven years and even up to ten years.  

The first few years are all about you finding your voice and your space in your industry and building trust in business. Getting out and sharing with the world with what you offer as a product or service, who you are, and building success to create testimonials or raving fans. Defining your business and your place in the market, then owning that space and establishing yourself as a real business and not a hobby like some people think you are doing.  

What are some characteristics that you will need to become a successful entrepreneur? 

  • Courage – Being uncertain and possibly scared and doing what is important and necessary anyway. Courage is a muscle skill that you learn by doing what you don’t want to do or doing something that feels so uncomfortable that you would rather do anything else.
  • Self-Confidence – Standing in your power and knowing that what you are offering is valuable and necessary for people in the world. If you are not sure, then get help to make sure what you offer is valuable and has a place in the market, and then be confident in it.  
  • Willingness – Taking risks and those leaps of faith when you know it is what is necessary to reach your goals, learn those lessons, and get more education. If you are willing then you will be open to new opportunities and get other points of view so you can expand and grow.
  • Forgiveness – Having the ability to learn from your mistakes. And letting go of other people’s miss-steps in your learning phase. Acknowledge it, learn from it and keep moving forward without going into hiding. Not everyone will see your vision and they will make assumptions and may hurt your feelings. It is not likely that was their intention to forgive and move forward with or without them and their support.
  • Trust – In yourself and in other people’s ability to help and support you. You will have to make the easy decisions and the tough ones. Trust yourself to make them and create a team of people who can adapt and be honest with you if they think you are heading off course.  You have to truly trust yourself before others will show trust and have faith in you. You will also have to trust that people are looking out for your best interest and that you will find the right resources for you to grow and gain credibility.
  • Respect – Build respect in your business, in your community, and in your market. If you are being shady, skimping, or not delivering on your promise in business you can lose it all. Show respect in the market by either not talking about your competition or not talking negatively about them. Show respect for your client in time, products, and services, and deal with any problems head-on and right away. Show respect in your community by networking, connecting, and if you can volunteer. All of these build trust and creates respect for you and your business.

Let me tell you about a time when building respect throughout my businesses allowed me to stay in business when I could have easily lost everything.

In 1998 we sold our small business to a Fortune 500 company out of Sacramento. My husband and I both stayed on as employees of the new company because they were building their name and reputation in our community. We continued to work for them and they were also making payments to us personally for the sale of our assets, client base, and employee pool. A year later they filed for bankruptcy and went out of business. That left all of our client bases without the needed security, the employees without jobs and we lost the remaining $60K that they still owed us on the business purchase.

So, how does respect and reputation fall into this story you ask? Well, my husband and I decided in a moment that we needed to restart our business without them and called all clients in our area and told them we would continue to service them. Then we called all the employees and said we can’t make up for your bounced checks from them but we can pay you from this point forward. It was easy to keep all the clients and employees because we had built our respect and trust with them.

The harder part was figuring out how we were going to come up with the money to get the employees all paid in two weeks. On our personal side, we had just bought a house and all of our saving was gone. The paychecks and business payment checks from the other company all bounced creating a negative in our bank account. Things were not looking great. We went to our local bank and asked for a meeting with the bank president who we had known through business meetings and networking. He granted us a meeting and asked for our vision and business plan. We went to the meeting where we asked if they would be willing to purchase our incoming receivables from our clients for the work the employees were now doing. The answer the next day came back as a no to purchasing our receivables. But because of the respect in the community that we built in our community, the risks we were willing to take, and the courage we took to think outside of the box, the bank gave us a signature loan of $30K in our account in a week’s time period. That we would need to pay off within three years. Not sure what a signature loan is? That is when all they want is a signature on a piece of paper that says you promise to pay. I didn’t even have to give them an arm, leg, or first-born child!

Building your reputation, gaining respect, taking risks, and building trust are important to stay in business when everything in the moment feels like it’s falling apart.

Oh, and the bankruptcy court sued us for taking back our business and we had to pay $10k to stay in business and we paid that loan off in two years not three. Staying committed and focused helps us do all of that too.

So how can you become successful faster? 

  • Define what success looks like for you. 
  • Create a vision 
  • Communicate effectively with what products and or services you offer 
  • Get focused on your goals 
  • Sell your products and services 
  • Stay in a learning mindset 
  • Have a sound strategy of what you want to accomplish and how you see yourself getting there.  

Information to remember: 

The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics says about twenty percent of US small businesses fail within the first year. 

About two-thirds of businesses start and end in about two years and if you are part of the one-third that makes it past two years you are fifty percent likely to be out of business by your fifth year.  

 You don’t have to be a scary statistic as a business owner. Become one of the few that stays in businesses because you got sound advice and put that into action to serve you in moving forward.

Kimberley Borgens

About the author

Kimberley Borgens was married at 18, a mother at 19, and divorced at 20, she has journeyed from being a single mom on welfare to recognizing her strengths, fighting for what she believes in, and successfully building 5 thriving businesses with hundreds of employees and million-dollar budgets. Kimberley is a speaker, business mentor, and coaches her clients to transform their small business into a thriving business. Kimberley is living her own legacy as she inspires and motivates women to be fearless, become more like a CEO of their business and life, and enjoy the freedom they've dreamed of. She knows what it's like to start from nothing and build a strong solid business and she can help you too.

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