Being self-employed is definitely part of living without a parachute! Most days I’m so grateful to be on my own, with no one to report to and no office politics. Of course there are other days (few and far between) that I’ll find myself at Starbucks thinking that being a barista would have been a better way to go.
I recently met a woman who wanted to start her own business. She had passion, good ideas and a business plan that made sense. Over the course of an hour, she peppered me with questions about what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Until we met, I hadn’t realized how much I’d learned in the last decade and a half of being a business owner. I thought I’d share some of my insights if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and going out on your own.
- Make friends with uncertainty. This is the most difficult aspect of being an entrepreneur. There are no crystal balls to foretell the future. Running your own business can be highly lucrative. But there is also the potential, even if you do everything right, that your return may not be as anticipated. Whether you succeed or fail, being self-employed will be an invaluable life experience. But if you like your monthly set paycheque, this path may not be for you. Make sure you’re comfortable with fluctuating income levels. Enjoy the great times, but know that there will be bumps in the road (without a doubt!), so be prepared for those too!
- The best ideas are often the ones that keep waking you up at night. Many entrepreneurs swear by the ideas that come to them at 4 AM. Fifteen years ago I had the idea for Movies for Mommies in the back of my mind. After a week of waking up at 4 AM every morning, I took it as a sign that I had to start the business, and the rest is history.
- Your instinct is never wrong. The most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met listen to their intuition. Be aware of your initial reaction to an idea, a person, or situation. Always be open minded, but take a moment to see how something feels to you. Is an idea exciting? Does something not sit right? If it doesn’t feel right, take the time to assess what isn’t fitting and don’t rush to say immediately.
- Don’t take it personally. Whether you’re starting a new business, trying to bring on a new client, or negotiate a new contract, if someone say no they’re not interested, they aren’t saying no to you. They don’t know anything about you. It’s always helpful if you can find out why someone declines to participate in your business, but even if they don’t give you an explanation, or you don’t hear back after the appropriate number of calls, it’s not a reflection on you personally, so move on to the next opportunity with an open mind.
- Some days nothing goes right. Hopefully these days are few and far between, but we’ve all had a day when things can snowball from bad to worse. The Tony Robbins in you may say “we can turn this day around!” in which case go for it. But sometimes if you reach the point of Aghhh!!….step away from the computer, put down the phone and get out of your work space. Often, changing the space you’re in, taking a walk or going for coffee, will open you up to meet a new person, or get a different perspective. Taking a break can change your energy and allow you to get back to work feeling positive and upbeat.
- Keep a pen and pad of paper beside your bed. If you’re stressed about all the things you have to do, or things you don’t want to forget, keep jotting them down. Amazingly once it’s on paper, it’s out of your mind and will make it easier to sleep.
- Your time is valuable. If you have 8 or 10 hours a day to work, be efficient. As a new business owner you’ll to wear a dozen hats as a marketer, publicist, writer, book keeper etc. By focusing on what you enjoy and what you do best, you’re more likely to generate higher income. Income which will provide the resources to hire experts who will take on the tasks you enjoy doing the least.
- Have passion. If you love what you’re doing, that shines through in all aspects of your business. Whether you’re talking with clients, making a presentation, attending a trade show, or simply networking, people gravitate to those who believe in their own business and they are more likely to be involved with your company.
- Bet on yourself. Few entrepreneurs look back and say they regretted leaving the corporate world. But if you really want to start a business and you don’t do it, chances are that you will look back with regret that you never tried.
I wish you terrific success if you decide to go down the path of entrepreneurship. But if things don’t go as planned and you need a parachute… Starbucks will always need baristas.