Bottom line for Starting a Business? Courage
Globe and Mail Careers Section, C2, Wednesday Nov 7, 2007
I have been doing my job for several years now, and feel ready to start my own business. What do I do? How do I get started?
Launching your own business is an exciting but challenging time. You likely will be trading the corporate umbrella of job security, regular paychecks, steady days, and ready-made clients for a life with little initial security, sporadic income, and clients you have to create out of thin air.
The trick is to remember you are now two things: Whatever it is you do (i.e. Architect, designer, real estate specialist, accountant, hairdresser, retailer) as well as an entrepreneur.
Assuming you are already good at what you do, the trick now is to learn what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and master these new skills. Here are some of them:
Create a solid plan.
You have to figure out what line of business you are in and what your niche will be within that line of business. You can’t be all things to all people – so take the time to figure out the intersection of what you are passionate about, what you can do better than anyone else, and where you can generate income. Once you have that figured out, create a plan and get started.
Get a support group.
Don’t underestimate the impact of leaving a corporate environment, where working in teams is a natural part of the business, to working in isolation with no one but your dog to generate ideas with. If you don’t want to get stuck, create a support team of people who can balance out your strengths and weaknesses. An accountant/finance expert, a marketing expert, a coach, a lawyer – these are all people you may need on your team.
Many of us hate having to sell ourselves. It doesn’t come naturally, it can feel self-serving and pushy. But if you don’t do this, you will not succeed. There are countless ways to market yourself – working the phone, giving presentations, writing articles, attending networking groups, sending out promotional information and so on. Figure out what kind of marketing you naturally enjoy and get busy. And market constantly.
This is one area of your work that you cannot slack off from, or you will feel the impact on your pipeline of work, and ultimately your bottom line, very quickly.
Focus on the business.
Administrative chores are a sure way to eat up your time and take you away from the important things; namely, growing the business. Don’t allow yourself to become side-tracked too much. Follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of your time should be spent on activities that generate income, and the other 20% on all support activities.
It takes courage.
It takes guts to ride the ups and downs of launching a business. One of the areas that can be the most stressful is money, so it’s important to have a nest egg to give you the courage and time to be successful. You also have to be able to take rejection. – you will need courage not to crumble under the weight of “no”.
Katie Bennett is head of Double Black Diamond Coaching in Vancouver.