Thursday, April 21, 2016

From the corporate world to small business entrepreneur

from corporate world  to small businessSome of the readers of my small business blog message me with questions that indicate they feel an understandable reluctance to jump from a steady and secure corporate role into starting up their own business, despite a deep passion to do so.

It is not uncommon that entrepreneurs can experience such mixed feelings – anxiety is only natural when it seems you are moving from the known to the relatively unknown. Quite obviously, thorough preparation and having developed a strategy will help to reduce such anxiety, but likely never completely dispel it. 

Reading business books and blogs, perhaps completing a small business short course, talking to small business entrepreneurs who’ve successfully made the jump out of the corporate world themselves and maybe finding yourself a mentor – these are all ways you can start to gain the insight, understanding and skills you will need. It is imperative that you are prepared for some of the likely challenges and obstacles you will encounter – not the least of which will probably be cash flow strain during the start-up period. Check out "Dare To Be An Entrepreneur" for a description of the qualities you need to succeed in launching a small business. 

Setting up your business should be part of your life planning anyhow. Having some sense of clarity around what it is you are searching for and wanting to achieve in your life is essential. You need to have considered where the business will fit with the rest of the stuff going on in your life – including family and other relationships. Because the rest of your life will be affected by the steps you are contemplating. You must be prepared to establish new routines and structures in your life to support the change. 

I recently interviewed Kathryn Hocking, the founder of an Adelaide based coaching business, about her own personal experience in launching her business. But I was also interested in the work she does in guiding other entrepreneurs in launching their businesses - and the program she offers to help service providers transform their expertise into online training courses .....

1  1.Kathryn, what motivated you to start up your own business?

I reached ten years in a corporate career that I was not remotely passionate or excited about and I realised that I didn’t want to “wake up” in another 10 years and still be doing the same thing. I realised that if I wanted things to change – I had to change things.

The motivations were that I wanted to do something I was passionate about, be creative, work from home and have more time with my family. I also have health issues that are a bit up and down so I wanted a lifestyle business that I could run while also looking after myself and my health.

    2. From the start-ups you’ve guided and coached, what are the major early challenges that must be faced by a start-up business?

Generally it is a combination of money and time. They either have money but no time due to having kids or another job or they have the time but very little money to invest.

Also start-ups by their very nature have to start from the beginning in building a marketable list of potential customers and often don’t have a lot of connections in the business world.

Start-ups often have quite unrealistic expectations and think that if it doesn’t take off over night that it isn’t a good idea and give up ...... Where-as in reality if they had stuck at it they probably would have been a success. Persistence pays off.

    3. What are some of the most common mistakes you see small business owners make after having successfully navigated their way through the launch phase?

Generally the biggest mistake is that they don’t focus on one product for any length of time. Entrepreneurs by nature are generally multi-passionate with lots of ideas but this doesn’t mean that they should implement them all! The best success stories come from people that focus on one core offering and build momentum with this offering over a period of years before branching off into other things.

However what I tend to see is entrepreneurs get bored, think that they can spread their energies over multiple offerings but in reality no offering gets the focus and investment it needs to grow.

         4. What have you found to be the qualities that characterise the entrepreneur that ends up succeeding in commercialising their idea?

Persistence, focus and an ability to maintain a positive mindset despite setbacks and a willingness to invest and “go pro” or in other words “go all in”. They are also willing to niche in on a specific ideal customer and really create their product for that niche rather than trying to be everything to everyone.

5. One of your other services is helping service professionals convert their service to online e-courses. Could you tell us a bit about this and give a couple of examples of what you’ve done with this?

I’ve worked with over 600 entrepreneurs to create online courses or online training programs (otherwise called e-Courses).

I work with a variety of businesses but typically they are service providers who are either burnt out or have reached a ceiling of the amount of clients they can work with. They want to increase their revenues without working with more 1:1 clients and they often also want the lifestyle freedom that a leveraged online business model has the potential to bring.

I’ve had participants have great success in areas such as photography. business skills, personal styling, mindset coaching, health coaching, emergency preparedness and eco-living to just name a few areas. Converting their expertise to the form of an online training course meant the business was no longer dependent upon them and their presence in the business. An e-course could potentially be generating revenue 24 / 7 !!

6. Any other comments you’d like to share, that might perhaps help budding entrepreneurs to persevere with their idea?

It is important to understand that there is no such thing as overnight success. There is always a story you don’t hear of long hours, persistence, focus and set-backs.

Many people give up way to early and I want to encourage entrepreneurs to take a longer-term approach and launch their e-Course at least 3-4 times over at least 12 months before they abandon the idea.

There are lots of reasons why many of your customers won’t buy the first time you launch your program and many of my participants sit on my list for 6-18 months before purchasing from me. Persistence will win out in the end.

Thank you to Kathryn for sharing your experience.

About the interviewer
Brian CarrollBrian Carroll is the founder of the Melbourne corporate training company, Performance Development 

He is a psychologist by background and has more than 20 years experience working in the field of management development. His passion is to help people develop the mindset and skills they need to achieve their goals in business and life. .