Running Your Business on Expert Mode

Remember: 46 percent of new businesses fail because of the owner’s incompetence.

Is your business on the way to saving the princess or rocketing towards a game over? Video games, just like entrepreneurship, have varying levels of difficulty. Easy, medium and expert mode, you get to choose how much effort you want to put into the game. Just as you get to choose how much you’re going to put into your growing business.

You could operate on easy mode, stroll into the office mid-morning, check some emails and head home before rush hour starts congesting the freeways. Sure, this is the goal we’re all working towards but the pillars have to be in place before we can luxuriate in that lifestyle. Easy mode isn’t possible if your business isn’t sustainable without you. To be able to maintain that lifestyle and a successful business you need the staff to oversee and support your company. That isn’t conceivable in the earlier years of entrepreneurship.

When you start out a video game it is fun to play around in easy mode: figure out the controls and rocket through the levels, starting over at checkpoints when you fail. Growing a business doesn’t have the luxury of checkpoints, we can’t teleport back in time when things start to sour. Entrepreneurship requires expert mode from the get-go: long nights, 3 a.m. emails and an office that feels like a home away from home.

According to, 46 percent of new businesses fail because of the owner’s incompetence. The emotional price was too much; lack of knowledge of financing or record keeping and tax problems ruined the company. Expert-mode doesn’t have room for incompetence; the stakes are too high for mistakes. Expert-mode requires filling multiple company positions: sales, finance, book keeping, administration and CEO. In the beginning, it may just be you pouring over accounting how-to’s so you can balance your books or setting all of your sales appointments yourself.

Expert-mode requires expert amounts of effort. Those who think about starting their own business are thrilled by the idea of working their own hours, being their own boss and making all the shots themselves. Unfortunately these benefits are just one side of the spectrum and explain why the failure rate due to emotional strain is so high. What isn’t realized is how much work it requires, there’s no leaving work behind. It follows you home and probably keeps you up at night. Expert-mode isn’t confined to 9-5; it’s an all day and all night affair.

Owning your own business is extremely validating and has the potential to pay off. Just remember, whatever difficulty you put in, the more likely it is too skim past that 46 percent failure rate. Expert mode isn’t as fun as easy mode but an organized and promising start-up is the result of the hard work.

Discussion question: What effort do you put into your expanding business? Could it be considered expert-mode? See how you rate at