Is entrepreneurship for you? Chances are it definitely is. If you’ve come up with a great business idea and you’re ready to take definitive steps then you’ve likely figured out that there’s quite a bit to learn. Sure. Everything will be different and while you’ve likely got lofty dreams of being your own boss there are several things you should do and know.
So before you pull out your resignation letter, slap it on your bosses desk or quit your job on a dry-erase board — and kiss Corporate America goodbye, here are 17 tips from seasoned entrepreneurs that you should print off and take with you.
1. Check your finances.
Make sure your personal finances are in order. Specifically, you will need to have good credit to vouch for the lack of business credit. Debt is a killer because it means you have the pressure to earn money not just to pay bills, but to pay debts. Lastly, have a cushion of at lest 6-12 months of savings.
2. Evaluate yourself.
Leaving Corporate America to start a small business means giving up a lot of the support systems you are used to and may even have taken for granted. Be honest with yourself and diagnose your strengths and weaknesses so nothing goes uncovered. Are you detail-oriented? If not, find someone to help you with payroll and taxes. Are you an analytical genius who’d rather not network? Get yourself a great salesperson or business development partner.
3. Calculate your risks.
Make sure that before you make the final leap, have all of your ducks in a row first. Don’t be afraid of taking a risk, but make sure it’s a calculated risk and that you are well prepared for what happens next. If you can build your own company up on the side, while maintaining your corporate position until you are ready to leave — that is ideal. However, if not, just know that if you harness all of your passion, it usually won’t steer you wrong.
4. Believe in yourself.
Don’t be scared. Be fearless. Trust your gut and go for it. Don’t listen to the naysayers who say you can’t do it. Surround yourself with people who are willing to help you and who believe in you. Be prepared to work harder and put in more hours than you could have imagined.
5. Break the rules.
Entrepreneurs need to break the rules and have fun. With all of the spirit-crushing rules in Corporate America, now is your opportunity to do things your way. When you’re dancing to the beat of your own drum, customers will naturally flock to you because you’re unique, different and fun.
6. Focus on your goals.
Keep your eye on the day’s end goal. While you can fantasize about what your company can be like “one day,” it’s important to have a new goal each day that can and will help your business, personal confidence and motivation. After all, you’ve started your own business to do what you love to do and that is the overarching goal.
7. Don’t ignore the accounts.
Focus on discipline. You’ll work harder for yourself than you ever did in Corporate America. Hire a bookkeeper as soon as you can. Most people that start their own businesses aren’t accountants.
8. Work harder but balance.
Don’t think you’re going to work less when you become your own boss. You will have to work 10 times harder. Also, remember to schedule personal time. Working for yourself can begin to consume you if you’re passionate about it. Remember to delegate. A lot of small business owners try to do it all themselves. Hire people to do things or you.
9. Just do it.
Stop creating excuses and just go for it. I talk to way too many “would-be entrepreneurs” who throw roadblocks in their own way. Why do that? You’ll always have someone in your life saying you shouldn’t or can’t do something. That person shouldn’t be you.
10. Be realistic but driven.
Don’t expect to make it big overnight. It’s rare you will hit the business jackpot straight out the gate. If you know and are prepared for the ‘worst case scenario’ while still inspired and focused on doing it for the long haul- that’s half the battle.
11. Prepare both financially and emotionally.
Make sure you have enough funds built up that you won’t feel enormous pressure from day 1 to start bringing in big bucks from your business. Businesses take time to get started and up and running. To operate an efficient and high quality business, you will want to take your time and be thoughtful about it. Be prepared to make insignificant amounts of money starting out and to face challenging ups and downs.
12. Don’t get discouraged.
Lots of people will be interested in your service or product and will contact you, but relatively few will become clients. Some will abruptly stop communicating through negotiations that looked promising, but don’t let this discourage you. Do what you love, and be persistent.
13. Stick to a schedule.
You may have pursued self employment for the mobility and flexibility, but daily consistency is the corner stone for success. Discipline and organization will be null and void if there is no consistency in your weekly schedule. Not to say that as an entrepreneur everyday has to be the same, predictable, boring schedule, but consistency is essential.
Cultivate your contacts. When you’re out on your own, relationships are everything. You never know who you may end up working with again in a new capacity.
15. Go all in.
Don’t be afraid to go all in, and plan to do it. Leaving a stable job and paycheck involves a lot of uncertainty. You need to decide how much risk you’re willing to bear, and then expect to bear it all for a while. Reward only comes through risk.
16. Stop over-thinking.
One big hurdle for me was learning to “just jump.” I caught myself over-thinking many decisions when I just needed to let go and learn by trial and error. It was hard for me and still is, but I now know this is the best way to learn. You are never an expert when you first start something new.
17. Reach out.
Speak to people who have done it before. Not only will they offer advice that can prove invaluable, but more importantly, it will reaffirm that the transition can be made and that small business ownership is feasible.
Photo Credit: TheChive.com