Starting a business can be a scary thing. You give up the stability (albeit perceived) of a steady income with benefits. You put your career on hold. You sacrifice significant time and energy for the first several years just to get up to your former corporate salary. You enter a risky area where most people fail within five years.
So the real question should be, "Is it worth it?"
I am here to say yes! Do you really want your life time legacy to be 'Working for someone else = building someone else's assets'? Let's start with the why you need to make it happen.
The benefits of having your own business are plenty. They include:
- You get to be the boss
- Unlimited income potential
- Flexible schedule
- Choice of who you work with
- Power, control, authority, title and status
- Tax write-offs
- You get to do what you love
Convinced now? Anyone who is considering taking that entrepreneurial jump must plan for the following strategies. Note that there are always exception, but these are essential to increasing your chance for business success. These tips may also help you to avoid losing focus, faith or money.
1. Get feedback from everyone
Who better to get honest feedback and criticism from than your most trusted family members and friends? Ask them to be completely honest with you about your business idea. Don't take it personally if their critique seems harsh. If it bothers you, it may be a sign there is merit to the feedback. Try to find a few diverse contacts to get information from. Perhaps you know someone who is another entrepreneur, a teacher, an accountant, a lawyer or someone who would use your product or service. The indirect benefit is that once you start getting feedback from people, then they will feel like they are part of the process. These same people can become your network to build opportunities.
2. Develop a business plan
Before any business launch you need to do your homework. You need to become an expert in your field, your industry and your path to success. It is outrageous how many people start a business without doing a business plan. It is your guide, your bible, your white paper on what your business is and why it's going to succeed. The business plan forces you to think about what your product is, who your customers are and what competitors are doing. It also challenges you to do the financials, develop a marketing and sales plan, prepare a budget and plan for contingencies.
3. Tell everyone you know
You are the brand ambassador of your business. If you don't care to talk about it, then why will anyone care to hear about it? Telling people is the only way to get them excited about the possibilities and sharpen your pitch. It may also open up opportunities to discuss your business and defend its viability, which will hopefully reinforce in your own mind the strength of your business concept. Lastly, you never know who people may talk to about your business and indirectly get you some pay checks.
4. Get support
Even though you are your own boss, it doesn't mean you have to do it alone. First of all, if you have a family, you need to get your spouse on board. He or she can be your biggest champion or your greatest deterrent, depending on how you present it. One thing your spouse may find appealing is your flexible schedule. In many cases, you can offer to go to the bank, to get groceries or to pick up the kids from daycare because you are not tied to a desk.
You need to be willing to ask for help. This means hiring professionals to do the work you don't want to do, (e.g. accounting), seeking friends or family members that you can bounce ideas off of and most importantly, asking your network for business. Lastly, you may want to consider getting a partner. Although you are giving up some control, the benefits of partnership are plenty: you share risk and investment; you provide support and motivation; you hold each other accountable; and of course, two heads are better than one.
5. Know your resources
Most people don't realize how large and deep their resources are. Resources can mean a lot of things. You have a bank of usable skills. You have your network of work colleagues, friends and family. You have money saved up or you can find potential investors. You have access to many government resources that support start-ups. Do inventories of your resources to better understand who and what is out there to get your business on its feet and help it to grow.
6. Network every day
It's lonely at the top. Sometimes a sole proprietor may go days or weeks without leaving the home office or meeting anyone in person. You should try to network every day. This will get you out, it will keep your mind fresh and it will force you to keep talking about your business. It should be clear by now that a major component of your business success will be people. Networking can be done anywhere, anytime and with anyone. Get on the phone and book some lunch dates.
7. Do what you love
Do you love what you do and do what you love? Well you better. You are going to spend most of your time working on the business, talking about your business, selling your business, promoting your business, and sometimes doing work for your business that you hate to do. If you truly enjoy what you do and have a passion for your business, then you are much more likely to stick with it and it will be easier to sell. The best thing is that it won't necessarily feel like work to you. That is the best situation of all.
The time is now for you to start hustling for a life versus just hustling for life. Too often in the corporate world we define our life based on our income. Instead, define the life you want to live, then create the business systems to support that dream life. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? It's hard work, but so worth it in the end.