Business Advice

How starting a business can be like signing up for a reality TV show

- February 28, 2023 3 MIN READ

Starting a business can be an exciting and optimistic journey, filled with hope and the promise of freedom. However, as the business grows and expands, the challenges start to emerge, and the reality of managing a team and juggling multiple roles sets in. You seem to be busier than ever, and there’s a fair chance that you are actually making less money than you were previously! writes Bronwyn Reid.

Two of my business mentors call this The Struggle Zone, and I can’t think of a better name. This can be an overwhelming time for a business owner, and many don’t survive. I think that some of the popular reality TV shows are a good analogy for the first years in business – Survivor, or that one where the contestants have to negotiate an obstacle course without falling into the water.

On the other side of the Struggle Zone is what those same mentors of mine call the Lifestyle Zone. Here lies stability and growth – a place to strive for, like the platform at the end of that pool of water with all the weird obstacles.

But how to make the transition?

The first step to breaking free from the Struggle Zone is to recognise that it exists, and acknowledge the challenges it presents. It’s so easy to get stuck in this phase, thinking you just need to work harder and longer to get to the next level. However, this approach rarely works. More commonly, it leads to burnout and frustration. Instead, business owners need to step back and reassess their approach – to take strategic look at their business and identify the areas that need improvement.


One of the most common ways to move a small business out of the Struggle Zone is winning a contract with a large organization. This can provide a steady stream of work and help to stabilize the business, providing a platform for growth and expansion. However, winning these contracts is not easy, and it requires hard work and persistence. I call this “paying the entry fee”. Business owners need to be prepared to adapt their approach and focus on building relationships with potential customers. You must create value for them and show them how your services can help to solve their problems.

Welcome to the Lifestyle Zone

Of course, entering the Lifestyle Zone is not a guaranteed outcome, and there are many challenges and obstacles that lie ahead – just like those objects the contestants have to climb over or jump etc. Business owners must adapt their approach and be prepared to make significant changes to their operations to accommodate the new demands that come with larger customers. They will need to build a robust team and put systems in place that can handle the increased workload, while also ensuring that they can maintain their work-life balance and keep their personal goals in sight.

For some business owners, the Lifestyle Zone may not be the right fit, and they may choose to remain as solo-preneurs. This is a perfectly legitimate business decision, and there are many successful solo-preneurs who generate substantial revenue. The key is to find the right balance between growth and personal fulfilment for you and YOUR family, and be true to your goals and aspirations.

Breaking free from the Struggle Zone is not an easy task, but it is essential for the success and growth of any business. It’s just not a good place to be trapped. Whether you choose to remain a solo-preneur or aim for the Lifestyle Zone, the key is to make the changes necessary that will prove to your new, potential big customers that they can rely on you to be a reliable business partner, and be there on the platform at the end of the challenge.



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