Owning your own business means having the freedom to set your own hours and make your own rules. It also comes with the chaos of setting up a company, meeting deadlines and dealing with demanding customers.
Still, the right to be called "boss" is enough for many entrepreneurs.
Your new "job description" is one that develops on the fly, and you often learn by doing. Here are some tips to make the transition a little easier.
Have Money to Fall Back On
Breaking even in your new business takes about one-and-a-half to three years, according to small business expert Melinda Emerson in her book "Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months." It will cost more than you think and take more time than you planned. You’ll need enough money to cover living expenses and startup costs.
Plan to start your business while you still have a job and a steady paycheck. It is hard to get investors interested until you have customers and products. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you have cash for the first few months.
Choose a Field You Love
Starting and growing a business may be your dream, but it can easily turn into a nightmare when you face the challenges of finding startup money, acquiring customers and weathering unpredictable market conditions. A passion for your field can sustain you over any bumps.
Take Advice from Experts
When you start a business, everyone has an opinion. One person might question why you’d leave a good job for an idea that may never work. Another person might suggest that you switch from selling apples to ice cream because the market is better.
Rely on expert advice rather than the opinions of friends and relatives. Get guidance from mentors at SCORE, the Senior Corps of Retired Executives, and the Small Business Administration (SBA). Ask others in the same line of work. Take classes and research trade publications. Talk to your local banker. Just be sure to base your decisions on respected, educated and experienced opinions.
Develop a Business Plan
Plan to make a plan. Your business plan does not have to be long, but it should at a minimum answer these questions:
- What do I want to sell, build or offer as a service?
- Who is my ideal customer?
- What are my objectives and the steps I must take to achieve my goal?
- What is my target in one year and five years for myself and my customers?
This is the time to tap into your network. They know people who know people who know more people. Find people who are positive and upbeat when you need an injection of reassurance and encouragement. Be clear about what you need, and offer the same in return.
Starting a business is a great adventure. Be prepared for surprises, be careful with your money, educate yourself, but, most of all, enjoy it.
Reviewed September 2023