Have you ever asked yourself ‘should I start my own business? In the first of a two-part series, we look at the real costs, in terms of dollars, time, emotions, and more…
Tired of the rat race and doing work for someone else that doesn’t seem to make any kind of positive impact? You’re not alone. Small business is booming as more and more people sack their boss and go to work for themselves.
Working in your PJs and deciding your own hours is a massive tick in the lifestyle box, but it is also a lot of hard work and you need to be completely committed and passionate about what you are doing to see it out. For those that can cut it, the rewards are lucrative and, when it comes to more time with family, less stress and loving what you do, it’s pretty much invaluable.
If you are dreaming of starting your own business then it’s time to stop dreaming and make a decision. With your head in the clouds, you are not giving your best energy to anything you do. That doesn’t mean quit your day job tomorrow, it means put a plan in place starting now, steps that, bit by bit, will get you to your goal.
If you’re nervous about stepping into the business world, that’s okay, anything new and exciting will get your adrenaline going. This is no small decision. You will be leaving your comfort zone, that addictive pay-packet that comes along weekly, fortnightly or monthly that acts as a sedative on future plans. To get past the fear of the future and any lurking doubts you might be having about yourself, you have to know where you are going. What do you want to achieve?
If you stay where you are will you be happy with your position in five years time?
When you stare change in the face nerves are normal, but that shouldn’t mean they stop you from living the life you truly deserve.
Go slow, go smart, and make long-term plans, for long-term benefits.
Make a list of all the benefits you will receive from starting your own business. Make sure you include independence, being in the driver’s seat of your own life, and leadership.
Now make a list of all the skills you need to get started. If you align your new business with your passion you will probably already have most of the skills and knowledge you need about the product, service and potential customer. Put it all in writing, it helps when you can see just how far along your already are. Now I’m not talking a 187-page business plan, no no no, that is a waste of time and effort. I mean a series of guidelines you will use to keep you on track.
Money wise, you don’t have to have a lot and you certainly don’t want to invest your life savings. Trust that your business will pay for itself. If you crawl before you walk you can learn the ropes with little or no down payment and make your way up to the big leagues, baby step by baby step. Investing in a good mentor will see you reaping bigger rewards than spending thousands on websites and business cards!
It’s really important to remember that entrepreneurs are smart with their money. Sure, you get to have some fun, that’s the point, right, just keep in mind that being successful is about asking how you can make that project self-sufficient, and there are always ways to do that. It takes some creativity, some bravado and some Troublemaking skills, but basically, anything you want, you can find a way to earn it, rather than pay for it.
In terms of business skills, it’s okay if you don’t have any experience. You don’t need tertiary qualifications to make it as an entrepreneur, just be sure to do your research, ask for assistance when you need it and surround yourself with people already well ahead of your goal. That’s pretty much everything down.
So now that you know there is nothing stopping you it’s probably worth giving you a heads up on what you can expect from owning your own business to really determine if this is the right step for you.
See how closely this matches the list of benefits of working for yourself that you have written down.
- Earn money doing what you love (which makes it not like work at all. If you could do it for free you would)
- Flexibility to work wherever, whenever and however you want.
- Ability to choose who you work with, to bring in people who inspire and lift your performance and surround yourself with people who are just like you.
- Say yes and no to anything you want. You can refuse a customer, chase a project, throw in bonuses and make your own pay structure.
- Have the lifestyle balance that gives you your best health, best fitness and best creativity.
- Work more productively using your own priorities. No red tape, office politics, sign-offs and time wasting meetings that prevent you from getting your work done.
- Pay yourself first. Which means a potentially uncapped income, provided you get all your expenses paid.
- Feel genuine accomplishment, pride and satisfaction knowing you can do anything you put your mind to.
- Get to reset, test and re-inspire yourself every business cycle (90 days). It’s never monotonous, stagnant or Groundhog Day.
- Grow as a person. Owning your own business will have your performance lifting on all levels, you will be tested and rewarded emotionally, mentally and spiritually as you sprint the start-up hurdles. You’ll feel the pain of the burn to begin with, it’s all new, but with each new challenge you get faster, stronger and increase your response time. As a thinking business owner your brain will increase in density (yep, you’ll get a bigger and stronger brain) your stamina will improve, your confidence and ability to solve problems will be reflected in every area of your life.
Okay, so let’s look at the price tag. How much will living the dream cost you as a person?
- 90 day business cycles means you probably won’t see much of return as fast as you’d like. You are used to those regular pay injections so getting your cash in 90-day lump sums takes some getting used to.
Get around this: Keep an office job part-time or work casually in a flexible industry that you enjoy to keep your funds a little more even while you get the hang of it.
- You are responsible for your own finances. That means you need to be prepared for end of financial year. If things go wrong, through poor budgeting, poor bookkeeping or overlooked tasks, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Get around this: Don’t spend your 90 days in one hit, it might seem like you are a millionaire, but building up to the big dollars takes smarts and planning. Pay yourself first, put away some extra for tax (30%) and put the rest into savings or your next 90-day plan.
- Bank Loans, credit cards and even business bank accounts can be hard to open when you work for yourself. You’ll be expected to jump through a few million hoops to prove your good for it.
Get around this: Use a bank you already bank with. Do everything they ask you to as quickly and enthusiastically as possible. Can do attitude will reflect well on your business.
- You have to do the work. There is a lot to do and you need to be self-motivated, organised and completely committed to getting it done, and consistently. Anyone can work like crazy for three days, you need to put in some serious work time day in, day out for 90 days before you can take a break. Let make this one clear, anything fun and time wasting is off limits. You can (temporarily) your social life goodbye. That includes parties, pub nights, video games, holidays, TV series marathons. You.Work.Your.Butt.Off
Get around this: You really love it! In the early days, you’re doing what others won’t so you can live a life others can’t!
- Starting out you will most likely be doing everything yourself. It means you have great control, on the flip side, the only way you get assistance with anything is if a family member chips in or you pay someone. When specific skills are involved you’ll definitely need to pay someone.
Get around this: Use a virtual assistant for any low priority admin jobs (or they will never get done). Join a Business Network (like BNI) where you can swap skills and services rather than pay cash. Or if you do pay someone, pay them to teach you so you have the skills yourself (not always a good fit, it will depend on your project).
- Burn out is a very serious problem for entrepreneurs. There is so much to do, a heap of moving parts and massive amounts of enthusiasm and little assistance. Expect some burnout, especially if you are travelling a lot.
Get around this: I really stress the importance of healthy, alkaline eating, vitamin supplements from a registered naturopath, regular exercise and meditation, however, all those activities take time. Without them, it will take a toll on your body. If you are putting in 80 hour weeks do it for a strictly limited time. If you don’t rest, your body will rest for you, that means things like severe illnesses, depression and a lot of potential pain to force you to recover. Stop yourself before your body takes you in hand. Pay attention to how much sleep you are getting and if you need to do a long haul (sometimes you will) reward yourself immediately after with some rest and relaxation.
- No sick leave. No paid public holidays (you’ll be working through them anyway). No family leave. No holiday pay. If for any reason you are not able to work there is nothing to cover your butt.
Get around this: Mix and match your payments from customers where possible so you have staggered income. Have discounts or bonuses to encourage some of your clients to pay upfront, have others on fortnightly payment plans and some that pay as they go. That will mean if you are off your feet for a short time you won’t feel the impact. For everything else, you can really see how important it is to look after your number 1 asset: you.
- Working in isolation can cause its own stress and pressure. It’s great for your concentration and work ethic but can lead to loneliness and small picture perspective.
Get around this: When you meet a milestone reward yourself with a visit to friends or family, treat yourself to a massage (great for distressing and getting back in touch. Get out into nature, the bush, the hills, the beach, the desert for some perspective. Go out for dinner with someone and have a conversation about something other than work (if you can!)
So that’s the truth about what you get and what you have to pay for it. As you can see it’s a bit of a seesaw. Going in with eyes opened and mind sharp is the best way to succeed. Those who think they will make a million in 9 months usually won’t have the creativity or stamina to see out the year. If you are willing to do the work then the rewards are well worth it.
Stay tuned two of this article: Do I have what it takes to understand what character traits you and your business need to make it work.