What challenges do new start-ups face and how can they overcome those challenges to become a successful business?

Tochukwu K. Mbiamnozie

Founder & CEO of TucciPolo, Inc.


I reached out to current owners of early stage start-ups to get their take on the question. Self-proclaimed "reluctant entrepreneurs," Susie and Mike Wuollett are the founders of Protégé Biomedical, a company that started in their kitchen while they were MBA students at the University of Saint Thomas. Some of the challenges they shared included:

• Worrying about letting others down. Not just investors, but family, friends and employees.

• Change of identity. Shifting from day jobs at Wells Fargo and 3M to business owners changed not only their own perception of how they related to the world, but how their family and friends related to them.

• The challenge of deciding when to leave their day jobs. To answer this one, Mike made a list of the worst things that could happen in leaving his position with 3M to convince himself to stay. The unexpected happened: "I realized that if I had to return to the job market, I might be more valuable for having the entrepreneurial experience."

John Benzick is the founder of several businesses, most recently, Venture Superfly. He offered up these challenges:

• Imposter syndrome: Are you successful, but yet feel like a fraud? John brought this up because some reluctance to starting a business may be grounded in the idea that failure would reveal this partial self-belief about being a fraud.

• Uncertainty: This can cause hesitation. Uncertainty factors would include capability of self (skills and know-how), financing capacity, amount of time required above and beyond the day job and whether the idea has any merit in the market.

The best way to overcome these challenges is to keep the process simple, break down risk and continue moving forward with small steps, balancing gut feeling and rigorous critical analysis.

About the author

Alec Johnson is an associate professor of entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.