Most people who decide to start a business must make a transition from employee to entrepreneur. There are some exceptions, such as people who are brought up in a family of business owners. For the most part, though, society trains us to be employees. This starts in school and continues as we begin to earn money with part-time and full-time jobs.
So, when you decide to take the plunge and start your own business, it can be easy to unwittingly bring an employee mindset with you. Here are some pointers to keep in mind to help you make this crucial transition:
Consider a gradual transition.
There are both pros and cons of leaving your job and putting all of your energy and resources into your own business. On one hand, you can devote all of your time to your new endeavor. On the other hand, it can be a drastic change if you don’t have enough cash to see you through the early stages.
If you start a business while you still have a job, you can maintain some measure of security. Another good thing about this approach is that it gives you the chance to see both sides of the fence — employee and entrepreneur — at the same time. However, you will have to find the time to manage both. Another idea: See if it’s possible to reduce your hours at work without actually quitting.
Set a productive schedule.
One of the biggest changes new entrepreneurs experience is this: now you have to make your own schedule. For many people, this is one of the lures of entrepreneurship, but your newfound freedom can become a double-edged sword.
You need a certain level of self-discipline to put in enough hours to get everything done. In fact, when you first start out, you will probably have to work more hours than a typical employee. You are indeed free to set your own hours. But to start, set up a regular schedule and adjust it as needed.
Learn to prioritize.
Without a boss to assign tasks to you, it’s up to you to decide what needs to be done and in what order. You can make this easier using a traditional to-do list, or with the aid of an app or software program that helps you manage your time. No matter how you achieve it, make sure your day proceeds with some logic and that you aren’t wasting time on busywork.
This is a critical psychological principle if you are going to succeed in business. When you work for someone else, you really don’t have to think too much about the long-term consequences of what you do every day. As long as you perform your assigned task, you can delegate responsibility to your manager.
When you run a business, however, everything falls on your shoulders. This means that excuses of any kind won’t do you any good. For example, if you fail to deliver on a promise due to a software glitch or because of something an employee or subcontractor did wrong, your customers won’t care. You still have to take responsibility.
Whether you make the transition from employee to entrepreneur gradually or abruptly, you will eventually have to adjust to a whole new set of rules. It will probably take you some time to fully appreciate the vast gulf that separates these two roles.
You can prepare for some of these differences by reading and listening to others’ advice. Other startup lessons you will have to learn through personal experience.
Either way, the sooner you can adapt the entrepreneurial state of mind, the better it will be for your business.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Yan Revzin is the Co-Founder of Fortune Cookie Advertising, a non-traditional and experiential marketing company selling advertising space within fortune cookies at Chinese restaurants throughout the United States. Connect with @fortunecookiead on Twitter.
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