Starting Your Own Business: Do You Have What It Takes?
With recent news reports indicating that joblessness and unemployment have returned to the top of most American’s concerns, and many experts saying that some jobs will simply never return, the prospect of never again finding employment in a specific career field has become a very real specter to many job seekers.
So let’s throw in the wildcard: If you can’t find a job working for someone else, what’s stopping you from starting your own business and working for yourself?
There are a billion things to consider. Personally, I went through this process myself before starting my own company.
And yes, it is pretty darned scary because quite frankly, there are absolutely no guarantees that you’ll succeed.
But what I can tell you is that starting your own business is both the hardest thing anyone can do, but also one of the most rewarding things at the same time.
First, you need to decide what it is that you want to do.
Tip #1: If you can provide a type of service, you cut yourself out of having to raise a whole lot of start-up capital to buy supplies and inventory.
Then you need to decide where you want to do it.
Tip #2: If you don’t need to have overhead, then don’t. Working from a home-based office eliminates the monthly expense of leased office space, and provides you with a percentage tax write-off for the area used for conducting business. But the type of business may indeed require having office space so you don’t have clients / customers coming to your house. Understand your work environment needs when making this decision.
Now do it.
Tip #3: Most businesses fail because either the owner loses momentum or doesn’t know what they are doing when it comes to running a business.
Example: I used to work with a high school program that trained students to be chefs. Many started off with starry-eyed dreams of running their restaurant offering exotic and tasty menu offerings, but rolled their eyes when the business units came along and they were forced to try and understand the day-to-day operations of running a business. Nugget here: Pursue your dreams, but realize that the fun part only happens when you do the mind-numbing drudgery that constitutes the business operation side first to have the infrastructure to succeed.
Stick with it.
Tip #4: You will be tougher on yourself if you want to succeed than any other previous supervisor.
My friends know I joke that I am the worst boss I’ve ever had. But it is true. I push myself relentlessly in running my business, and my husband can attest that I probably on the computer way too much. But when the actual client-facing part of a business is done, then there’s the administrative stuff to catch up on… which is absolutely necessary. And that means a lot of hours.
A mantra that I use in my own business is this: “Working harder now will pave the way to making life easier later.” And I cannot tell you how true that has proven to be!
Make yourself squeaky-clean financially.
Tip #5: I never want to look over my shoulder worrying about any type of financial controls. So I immediately set up a bookkeeping service and established a business account for my company at the bank to keep personal and work finances completely separate. I am rigid about paying all bills on time, paying the full amount of quarterly taxes when due, and accounting for EVERYTHING. I also joke that if I sneeze, I get a receipt for it.
Having peace of mind of a solid financial system that has complete, 100% integrity is worth its weight in gold. It also means that I know exactly where I am financially with the company, and empowers me to make timely and well-informed decisions.
Don’t grow to fast… focus on what you do, do it well, then grow!
Tip #6: I read business publications, and a common mistake that I see frequently is that businesses start getting very busy, then they launch their “Let’s expand and take over the world!” initiative only to over-do it and then collapse.
Your best bet is to not fall prey to the lure of a lot of money really fast, and focus on incremental growth. That’s what will get you across the finish line in the long run. Do it. Do it well. Then move into measured growth.
Over the years, I’ve been approached by several people interested in starting their own companies, and I finally realized that having a checklist would have definitely helped me from the start. As it was, it was having a good gut instinct and a comprehensive previous career background that helped me understand the finer points of running a business.
As a result, I developed that basic checklist, and would be happy to share it with you if you are considering starting your own business venture.
If you would like to receive the “Starting Your Own Business Checklist,” drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll email it to you.
And good luck!
Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is a Certified Advanced Résumé Writer and the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Career Services. Clients from across the United States and Canada and from all career levels have benefited from Dawn’s highly-focused and results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Many professional groups as well as colleges and universities have appreciated the insights and expertise she shares during presentations on career management topics, and she is a frequently requested national speaker as a result.