Starting a business of your own is the best and only way to take complete control of your work life. Working for yourself means no layoffs, no wage freezes, no begging for a day off, no hoping that the big boss-man will grant you a meagre year-end bonus. When you work for yourself, YOU set your income goals and work as hard (or not) as needed to reach those goals. YOU develop a company culture that fits your personality. You establish your own work hours. And You decide when it’s time to grow.
Of course, starting a business requires a good bit of time and effort, but at least the work you do is just for you. When you want to earn more income, you put in more work. When you want a little time off, you take the time you need. Because it’s all on you, you will do the work to control the risks and because you are taking control of your work-life, you are more likely to stay motivated.
For many new entrepreneurs, the toughest part of independence is taking the first step…or even figuring out what that first step would be. If you’re just not sure where to start, start here:
Define Your Goals
Take a look at where you are now and where you want to be. Write it all down and cover all areas of your life.
Make the Tough Decisions
If you are drowning in debt, decide how to handle it. If you hate your job, set a deadline to make the change. If you don’t have any startup cash, figure out how to raise it. Look at the gap between where you are and where you want to be and create a concrete plan to close up that gap. If it seems like it will take forever, don’t let that bother you. If you start today, you are one day closer to where you want to be!
Pick a Start-up
Brainstorm business ideas, find a modified version of your own big idea, talk to your friends and family about start-up opportunities. It really doesn’t matter where you start with your independence, just that you get started. Most wildly successful entrepreneur change direction a number of times before landing on the perfect opportunity. And, more opportunities seem to appear once you’ve taken the first step.
Entrepreneurship is its own separate profession. Becoming an expert requires that you learn the fundamentals of a bunch of other professions, including accounting, marketing, financial management, sales, logistics, even secretarial and janitorial duties. Beyond that, you will learn to incorporate all those basic skills and add the key ingredient to success – innovation. Innovation is finding a new, better way to get things done. It might be a change in the product, the sales process, or even in administrative functions, but innovations are the one factor that will make you a success. To be able to identify those innovations, you have to know the basics.
Watch for opportunity
Once you have taken the first leap into entrepreneurship (which might even just be making the decision to go out on your own!), you will begin to see opportunities all around you. Don’t be afraid to pursue multiple opportunities. As long as you manage your time well, having a bunch of hooks in the water will multiply your odds of catching some fish!
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, starting and running a business (successful) is the best way to get where you want to be. You will be in control of your work life, your financial future, and even what you do with your day. There are a number of skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur, but one of the most important is the ability to look at issues from different perspectives. Looking ahead and back, while having a strict eye on today, is an imperative balancing act that the best entrepreneurs learn to incorporate into every decision.
Every business decision you make should be directly related to where you are trying to go. That is, with a clear vision of where you want your company to be, decision-making will be easier because every outcome should move the venture closer to your goals. Using financial projections, marketing plans, and basic strategic planning are critical tools in an entrepreneur’s arsenal, and all are focused on looking into the future. It is also critical to stay on top of what’s coming outside of your business. The economy, consumer trends, even the world’s political climate can affect the best choices for your business.
The reason for keeping the books, evaluating marketing efforts, and tracking top selling products is to use that data to make better decisions moving forward. The history of your company and industry are the first stop in deciding how to move forward. Maintaining good records is essential, and actually using those records to develop good plans is even more important.
Focusing on Today
With all the future planning and past performance reviews, it can be difficult to keep an eye on the day-to-day. But what is happening right now is obviously critical as well! Top entrepreneurs never lose sight of why they are in business and who they are serving. There are a number of factors that need to be managed and assessed on a daily basis. If you fail to stay on top of what is happening now, you’ll be surprised how quickly things fall apart.
The trick to making the best business decisions is to balance looking forward, looking back, and focusing on today. Most first-time entrepreneurs struggle to develop this habit because most people have a tendency to zero in on just one of these views. An obsession with where you are going is dangerous – you’ll miss the signs from the venture’s history and ignore what needs to happen today. A reliance on the past might result on perfect accounting records, but will miss the boat when future opportunities come to pass. And, the most common error among new entrepreneurs is focusing only on today. Without a clear understanding of where you are going and where you have been, you can just about guarantee failure.
The view from the top is pretty good, and the only way to get there is to master your ability to check out all the views from the ground!