Owning your business means the freedom to set your hours, make your rules, and live your dream. It also means the chaos of setting up a company, meeting deadlines, dealing with employees and customers, and the chance to work 10 to 15 hours a day at times.
The rewards may be two-sided, but the right to call be called the boss is payoff enough for many entrepreneurs.
The job description for "Boss" is one that develops on the fly, and you often learn by doing. Here are some tips to make the transition a little easier.
Have Money to Fall Back On
Breaking even in your new business takes about one-and-a-half to three years, according to small business expert Melinda Emerson in her book "Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months". It will cost more than you think and take more time that you planned. You’ll need enough money to cover living expenses and for startup costs.
The simplest way to handle this is by starting the business while you still have a job and a paycheck. It is hard to get investors interested until you have customers and products. Cut expenses to the bone. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you have the cash for the first few months.
Choose a Field You Love
Starting and growing a business may be your dream, but it can easily turn into a nightmare because of the challenges finding startup money, dealing with customers, and weathering market conditions. If you love the field you are in, that can help sustain you over the bumps.
Take Advice from Experts
When you start a business, everyone has an opinion. One person might question why you’d leave a good job in the first place for an idea that may never work. Another person might suggest that you switch from selling apples to ice cream because the market is better.
Rely on experts primarily, rather than relatives and friends for advice. Get guidance from mentors at SCORE, the Senior Corps of Retired Executives and the Small Business Administration. Ask others in the same line of work. Take classes and research trade publications. Base your decisions on respected, educated, experienced opinions.
Develop a Business Plan
Research and make a plan. Even if you do not stick totally to it, it will start you on the path with confidence and clarity. It does not have to be pages long, but it should at a minimum answer these questions:
- What do I want to sell, build, offer as a service? What is my big dream?
- Who is my ideal customer?
- What are my objectives and the steps to achieve my goal?
- What is my target in one year and five years for myself and my customers?
This is the time to tap into your network. They know people who know people, and on down the line. Find people who are positive and upbeat when you need an injection of reassurance and encouragement. Be clear about what you need, ask friends to put the word out, whether it is a contact, the best place to buy supplies for cheap or an office to rent. Offer the same back to your network, and keep growing it.
Starting a business is a grand adventure in life. Be prepared for surprises, be careful with your money, connect with people, educate yourself. Enjoy it.