Starting your own business is an exciting idea wrought with a multitude of unknowns. Is it right for me? What should I consider? Will everyone understand what I do? Where do I begin?
HAVE A VISION: Back in high school, a friend always told me that he wanted “to be an Entrepreneur,” but never knew what he would do. Maybe he was putting the cart before the horse, but at least he had goals. Before pursuing the dream of being an entrepreneur, take the time to think through your vision. Where do you see yourself in 1, 5, even ten years? Maybe it’s working from home, a single person operation with a small, exclusive clientele list. Perhaps you’re at the helm, with a team carrying out your ingenious strategy. Your vision helps create the framework for a business plan, propels you forward, and keeps you on track to achieve your goal.
BUILD A TEAM: Whether a successful solo-preneur or an owner with employees, any business requires a team. Consider your strengths and more importantly, your weaknesses and build a team that covers your blind spots. Doing everything on your own is impossible. Getting bogged down by bookkeeping or marketing or web design is not the best use of your time if it’s not in your skillset. What takes you a day may take an expert an hour – money well spent! Additionally, set expectations for your team. Are you a 24/7, text at 11 PM, immediate response kind of person? Own it! But decide whether your hires must fit that mold or if you understand boundaries. Empower your team, whether employees or consultants, to be a part of your vision and treat them as partners.
WORK HARD: Remember what I said about 24/7? Be prepared for long hours, consumed by your efforts and working incredibly hard to reach your goals. Communicate to loved-ones that aspects of your life may, temporarily, suffer but that you will soon settle in a new normal. As a business owner, there are always unforeseen situations at all hours; inevitably, during bath time or when your daughter prom’s date arrives. But ‘luck is the residue of hard work, ‘ and many rewards will outnumber the few heartaches.
TAKE RISKS: Are you wearing a parachute? If you are, you’re not really ready to jump out of the plane. Being in business for yourself, potentially by yourself, is dangerous waters. Ensure that you and your loved ones will be comfortable in the new reality. Explore safeguards that can make risks more “calculated.” Consider various scenarios and be equipped for decisions requiring quick action. A possible order for 1000 widgets when current output capacity is 300 can be a tricky success. A well thought out business plan will prepare you for positive and negative situations.
NETWORK: As important as creating your vision, building you team, and working hard are, what good is it if no one knows your product? As an entrepreneur, YOU are your brand.Your widget is outstanding and indispensable, but until the rest of the world figures that out, they need to trust and believe in you. Find groups and councils that will support your growth as an individual, team leader, and community member. Attend seminars, go to lunch and learns, and develop relationships within your region and business communities. If you are among the most fortunate, you will find a mentor – someone in your corner to challenge and inspire you, help guide decisions and provide emotional support at every stage. The value of a good mentor cannot be overstated.
GIVE BACK: Why are successful businesses usually pillars in the community; because their logo looks good on the nonprofit’s website? Not exactly. An individual who gives time and treasure to charitable causes builds respect in her community, makes the community a better place to live, develops valuable connections, learns new skills, and gains respect as a leader with both current employees and business contacts. Involve your team, and you’ve upped your game, my friend. And that’s as good as money in the bank.