Ready to take the plunge and start your own business? Or are you held back by visions of your family eating nothing but ketchup sandwiches and phone calls from your mother-in-law asking you when you’re going to get a ‘real job?’
Let me ask you this—are you passionate about this idea of yours? Do you have a dream of owning your own business and you just can’t stop thinking about it? Then go for it. Find work you love and you’ll never ‘work’ another day in your life. You’ll begin to feel sad for people who say, “Hang in there baby, Friday’s coming.”
To help you get started, here are fifteen things you should know about becoming an entrepreneur:
1. This is the greatest time to be one. The worst time to start a business is at the top of a boom. Just when you get your feet under you, everything tanks. With the economy down, people understand you have a tight budget because everyone does. Help people now when they need it most and they’ll remember you when times are better. As the economy grows, your business will grow.
2. You won’t be in it alone. There’s a whole “unseen” world of self-employed folks you never knew existed. The entrepreneur community is much bigger than your company. You’ll meet mentors and associates in other states and other countries. Here’s the fun part—unlike that Debbie Downer you avoid at the office, they actually like their jobs!
3. There’s no such thing as failure. There are only lessons to be learned. Challenges lead you to a different path you might not have considered. It’s okay to reinvent yourself when something’s not working. Just move on.
4. There are times when you’re going to be scared. To me, what’s scarier is having my future determined by someone in an office thousands of miles away who’s trying to ‘make the numbers work.’ I’d rather risk losing everything as long as I get to call the shots. It’s only money—you’ll make more.
5. Act on your ideas immediately. Don’t wait. If you don’t act, someone else will and you’ll kick yourself for it. The only difference between dream and reality is action. Can’t find anyone doing what you want to do? Good! Go there. Then show everyone else why they need to get caught up to you. You’re not the only person in the world who thinks your idea is a good one.
6. Stick to the things that make you unique. Don’t simply go after something because it looks like you’ll make money at it. What are your unique talents and skills? Find people who appreciate them. Be your own Pied Piper.
7. You’ll suddenly see ideas everywhere. Be open. Be curious. Get out and talk to people. Listen. Look. Learn. Putting yourself in new environments allows your brain to forge pathways to new ideas.
8. Your time is valuable. Remember, you’re worth it. You have skills that are unique to you. You don’t need to find 10,000 people who know this. Just find 10. Are you mad because a competitor is charging more than you? Is it because their product is better? Then fix yours. Is your product better? Then maybe the problem isn’t that their price is too high. Maybe your price is too low.
9. You need a written plan. Not necessarily a 34-page business plan written for a banker, unless you need one to obtain capital. Just make a list of your big goals. Set deadlines. Break out those big goals into little tasks. Set deadlines for those. Check your goals weekly and see where you are. Do you need to push out the deadlines of some tasks? Do it. Are some goals no longer important to you? Get rid of them. Priorities change. Environments change. As long as you’re moving forward, you’ll always be getting closer to your goals.
10. You need a team. Ask for referrals for a good accountant, attorney and other professionals. Learn from them. There are financial benefits to self-employment. Take advantage of them.
11. You’ll need to cover your household expenses while you’re building. Ideally, you should have savings in the bank equal to 6 to 12 months of household expenses before you start your business. If you don’t have this, look for ways to build it. Sell stuff you no longer need. Build the business more slowly if it means you can stay out of debt. Barter. Reduce the amount of your household budget. Now that you’ll have more time to be with your family, can you go on a bike ride on a weekday afternoon instead of taking everyone to the movies on a weekend night? Look at what you’ll be gaining with your new freedom and you won’t feel as if you’re sacrificing anything.
12. Laugh everyday. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Ever notice that when you’re sharing laughter with friends, you all begin to see new funny ways of looking at everything? Laughter opens your mind to new ideas.
13. Vacations will be more important than ever. Take a break and get away even if it’s just 1 or 2 times per year for a few days. Not only will you feel more refreshed, but you’ll see solutions to problems you’ve been working on or new ideas to research.
14. It’s okay to fire your clients. You’ll know you’re successful when your client list is made up of people like you. It may seem in the beginning that you need to do business with everyone just to survive. Not true. By saying “no” to clients that don’t fit your particular ideal client model, you’re opening up your time to clients that do. It’s selfish to keep a client who’s not a good fit. That client—and you—deserve to find someone who’s a better fit for both of you. Move on. For more info on how to build the ideal client base, read “Book Yourself Solid” by Michael Port. [Is this an affiliate link? Ya, you betcha.]
15. It takes time to grow a business. Prospects are like submarines. Most of the time they’re underwater, invisible to you. When they’re in need of your services, they’ll surface. Because you never know when that will be, you must always be visible to them by being helpful and continually offering items of value with an open hand. That way, when they’re ready, they’ll take your bait and not your competitor’s. All of this takes time. Be patient.
What fears do you have about being an entrepreneur? Or, if you already are one, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were first starting out? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Next time: An interview with virtual company MedMan. Later this week: Tools that save time.
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