Monday, August 18, 2014

Being Your Own Boss: Is running your own business right for you?

starting a small business

Do you have what it takes to run your own business?

Hey, let’s not kid ourselves here. Yes, there are many benefits and rewards to starting-up and running your own business – that’s for sure. But there are also risks and stresses.

On the plus side of the equation, there’s the freedom of having more control over your working hours. There’s the attraction of making more of your own decisions and in some ways, feeling that you’re more in control of your destiny. And when you’re running a business that you’re passionate about- well, it doesn't even seem like “work”. You’ll be paid for doing more of what you love.
BUT it can be a rough and rocky road that you travel with many pitfalls, especially during the first year or two. Some studies suggest that more than 40% of small businesses fail within three years - however those business owners who had prepared a well-researched business plan were more likely to succeed.
But will you simply end up another statistic? …… Quite apart from your business idea - you've got to ask yourself if you've got the "right stuff". Here’s a sample of essential qualities that are needed if you’re going to make a go of it as an entrepreneur ……
1.      A vision that you’re passionate about - a dream that lights a "fire in the belly", that excites and energises you. You need to have a picture in your own mind of what your business would look like in 3 years; including the types of customers that you would be doing business with

2.      You’ve got to be a self-starter ……. If you are someone who needs to be told what to do, then becoming self-employed is not for you! …… Nor is there going to be anyone to motivate you – this is again something that will have to come from within. However as long as your vision is something that arouses excitement within you, then keeping this “in line of sight” should keep you energised. But you’ll need and determination to get out and actually turn ideas into plans and actions. You can’t be someone who will wait for opportunity to come knocking at your door – you’ve got to get out and create opportunities by knocking on plenty of doors.

3.      The successful entrepreneur in small business is one who is not only inspired – but can inspire others with their enthusiasm and conviction. In the early start-up days of your business, you won’t yet have a proven track record in your industry or a portfolio of clients to showcase that will give you authority. Instead it will be more about your ability to sell and persuade others to give you the chance to prove to them that you can deliver what you promise …… Whether these other people are potential investors or potential customers – can you sell your ideas?

4.      A willingness to keep on learning is essential. Quite often the person setting up a business will have particular technical expertise ….For example, you might be a highly capable mechanic, or hairdresser or website designer or plumber or software engineer. However there will be other aspects to running a business that you have to be prepared to learn. Whether it’s financial management and record keeping – or maybe  it’s sales and marketing – or perhaps it’s software that enables the planning and scheduling of work operations ……. There will be additional skills and knowledge that must be acquired along the way. There will hopefully come a time in the future where your small business has achieved a level of success and revenue that will then enable you to choose whether to outsource some aspects of the business operations. But in the first year or two, typically the imperative is to minimise your operating expenses – so you will need to be willing to wear many different "hats".

Let me add that I have been running my own business for some 20+ years - so it has been a long time since I have reported to another “boss”. Truth be told, I’ve become so used to being my own boss and being in control of my business destiny (well, apart from factors like the GFC that sometimes will throw a grenade in even the best of business plans) that I would find it very difficult to return to working in a corporate role.
My customers are my bosses in a sense – but I do have the added luxury of choosing to refuse to do business with a customer if I find them unreasonable or unethical.
I’ve no regrets about starting up my own business. Of course there are things that I wish I’d have done differently – one of them being that I should have found an experienced business mentor much earlier than what I eventually did ….. Another lesson was continuing to do business with a customer for far too long, despite not being paid. Yes, you can extend your credit terms with them – but not indefinitely. There comes a time when if they’re not paying their bill, then you’ve got to “switch the power off”. Hoping they will eventually do the right thing will not pay your bills.
Small business - is it right for you?
So if you’re still wondering whether small business is right for you, check inside yourself to determine whether you’ve got the necessary passion, the drive and the desire to learn. But just as importantly is that you confirm your idea possesses the required commercial viability

However, maybe you're feeling anxious about the prospect of losing some job security if you were to become self-employed - so I would say this to you …….. Consider in 20 years’ time, how deeply would you regret not taking the risk? Would you possibly look back and feel disappointed that you didn't have more faith in yourself?
This does not mean that you ignore any of the risks – but that you weigh them up against what you stand to gain. And consider whether some of the risk factors can be mitigated and managed through more careful business planning. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you happiness and fulfilment.  And in the words of David Gemmell ....
“May all your dreams but one come true – for what is life without a dream”

More tips and resources can be found at small business management  f

And finally, one last short video on the theme of Lean Start-Ups - which is based on the principle of getting your product to market as soon as it is "workable" rather than being obsessive and waiting for "perfection". ... Technically minded entrepreneurs often want to keep adding extra features to their initial product design - which create further delays to market release. The idea of a lean start-up is that you can incorporate customer feedback as an iterative and ongoing process of product improvement, after release. 


About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a training business in Melbourne, Australia.  He is an experienced management coach with a passion for helping people achieve their goals in life and business. You can find out more about Brian at his Google + profile