Deciding to take the plunge to start working for yourself is a big step. It’s a decision both exhilarating and terrifying, and you’re going to be on that emotional roller coaster all along the journey.
I know that when I started down this path, I could hardly contain my excitement. The ideas were bubbling over, I was frantically scribbling down lists and notes, creating half-baked flowcharts to stick and admire on the walls.
Once the initial excitement calmed down a little bit, I quickly realised that enthusiasm alone wasn’t going to keep me going in the long-term. Excitement is exhausting, and while great for brainstorming and getting lots of ideas flowing – for me at least – it works against me when I need to get things actually done.
My business much prefers me when I’m being calm, steady and disciplined. And while these personality traits aren’t necessarily the ones that come most naturally (or sound the most glamorous), I am working very hard on nurturing them and letting them guide my daily schedule.
So why do we put ourselves through this? What are some reasons for starting your own small business?
I suspect this is a biggie for most of us. It can be hard to work for someone else, and to see the results of your labours line someone else’s pockets. To make matters worse, the often rigid working arrangements in most traditional companies means that you can feel like you have no control over your own life and destiny.
Now I’m out of corporate-world, the full absurdity of that system has really struck me. We grow up into independent adults, yet our jobs require us to have to ask for permission to go on holiday, or restrict our ability to find our own best productive hours, or don’t allow us to simply make a change to our working routine that will give us a better work/life balance.
I understand that some people thrive within this type of corporate structure, but some people just really don’t.
Working for yourself, however, you get to set your own hours and find out how you are most productive. Sounds great, right? All that freedom?
You need to bear in mind that your small business will only grow and flourish if you pay attention to it. You will probably find yourself working longer hours and having even less free time on your hands than when you were working for someone else.
Bu you know what? People aren’t afraid of hard work. As long as we feel empowered through the work we are doing, most of us are thrilled to be busy and engaged. Running your own business – supporting yourself through your own ideas and execution of those ideas – is extremely empowering. The lines between home and work may become blurred, but you are in control of how you define and work with that boundary.
Make easy money
The internet abounds with stories of entrepreneurs who came up with an idea, stormed in, built up a mega-empire and made scrillions of dollars, all in under 12 months.
Some of these stories may be true. I guess. If you dig a bit deeper, however, the get rich quick guys have actually been working long and hard behind the scenes for long before their meteoric ‘rise’ and success.
Which isn’t to say that you and your business won’t follow a similar trajectory. There is real money to be made through self-employment – and unlike a salaried job your earning potential isn’t capped by what your boss or your company thinks you are worth.
On the other hand, selling your product or services – consistently – is the key to building your own business and wealth. Anything is possible, but you will need lots of patience, a committment to the long-term goal, and a strong stomach to ride out the anxious days, weeks or months when your business slows down.
Have faith that you will arrive at your goals, and I’m willing to bet that you will see the financial return for all that hard work. It may not be easy money, but it will be money you funnelled towards you and your business through your own hard work and effort. That makes it satisfying money, in my book!
Niche market opportunity
You see a niche in the market. It’s a tiny little sliver that you noticed, and you’re convinced that you know how to carve something substantial out of it.
If you truly have found a market niche, that is the best way of guaranteeing long term success with your business strategy. Of all the reasons to start a small business, this is probably the most relevant.
Just make sure you do the research. There not only needs to be a market for your product or service, but you also need to be sure that there are people out there willing to pay for it.
If you’ve done the research, and feel that you’re onto a winner, then go for it! In many ways, it’s easier to do your marketing for a niche than for a broad and ill-defined segment, and the speed and level of your success should hopefully reflect that.
Time for a career change
This can be a tough one. I think we can all relate to the feelings of frustration and unhappiness associated with working in a job or industry that you feel is all wrong for you. I bet everyone has worked – at least once – in a job, or in a company, that was a completely wrong fit.
Perhaps you find yourself unemployed, another statistic of the global economic downturn.
The idea of starting up a business can be seductive in this situation, but as reasons go, you need to be careful with this one. Becoming self employed is a tough journey. You need enthusiasm and passion and a clear goal to keep you moving and engaged. Simply doing it as a default – because you think it will be better than the job you hate now – is probably not going to provide the motivation you need to see it through.
Think about why you want to do it, and what your motivations are. Don’t rush into it. Explore some hobbies, do some research to find a niche, and maybe start off small and part-time. See if you and entrepreneurship are a good fit.
Starting up your own business enterprise should never be a ‘safety net’ or default choice. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try if you’re not 100% sure. If all the signs from the universe are telling you that now is the time to throw yourself into a new venture, take a deep breath and plunge right it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
You have a burning desire to create, to innovate, to build.
Doing your creative ‘thing’ is often the easy part. Do you have the drive to knuckle down to the essential ‘boring’ tasks that your business requires? Marketing, book keeping, networking. All the nuts and bolts that keep your business together and functioning.
Are you ready for the idea that a lot of your time won’t necessarily be spent on the creative stuff that you love doing? Have you thought about how to build that into the cost of your services? Long term, how will you help your business to grow if what you actually want to be doing is simply writing, or designing, or taking photographs.
It could be tricky to manage, but if you want to be the creative force in the business, maybe you could partner up with someone else. Or at the very least, start outsourcing the stuff you really don’t like to do.
On the other hand, you may discover that you have a whole side of you that you didn’t suspect was lying dormant. Being a business owner allows you to wear lots of different professional hats, so you never know what type of job tickles your fancy.
There are plenty of reasons for striking out on your own. What were your reasons for starting your own business? And have they changed or evolved alongside your business?