More and more people are considering leaving the corporate world and starting their own business. And with stories of entrepreneurs living the dream all over social media, it’s not surprising why.
For those who love taking risks, it can be an exciting process. For anyone risk-averse, it can be slightly more challenging. If you’re thinking about starting your own business, here are 12 things to be aware of.
1) You might not have more freedom
You might think starting your own business means freedom. But in the beginning, this might not always the case. Yes, you might get more freedom in terms of your decisions. But not necessarily in terms of your time.
The first 1 or 2 years are about survival. Unless you have significant financial backing. Or another income stream. Chances are you will work more hours not less.
ADVICE: As long as you are doing something you love, it won't feel like hard work. Get clear on your priorities. Learn the skill of working smart, not hard. Automate things as much as possible. And ask for help when you need it.
2) The fear is real
Fear of not making any money. Fear of failure. If you think starting your own business will be less stressful than your previous jobs, think again.
ADVICE: To overcome your fears, you must focus on your "WHY?". The purpose of the business. The people you want to help. The difference you want to make. Make sure your "WHY?" is so meaningful you will stop at nothing to achieve it.
Being good at what you do isn’t enough to make a business work. If you want your business to succeed, you’ll need to be committed to your business and your personal development.
ADVICE: Identify which skills you need to ensure the future of your business. For example, digital marketing, leadership, communication, success psychology, time management, stress management, networking, business development. Then find a coach, sign up for workshops, online courses, read books or ask friends and family to teach you this stuff. Research has shown if you do this, your business will succeed in 24 months. If you don’t, it could take longer.
Working alone, or leading a company can be isolating. And your friends might not understand what you’re going through.
ADVICE: Surround yourself with the right people. People who have similar goals and are facing the same challenges. And those who can fill in your skills gaps.
5) Your relationships might suffer
You will have less time to spend with loved ones. And when you do see them you might have nothing to talk about except work.
ADVICE: If your relationships really mean something to you, you can’t ignore them. Your loved ones will only stick around if they feel loved. It’s up to you to schedule time to see them. Even a call is better than nothing.
6) You will fear taking time off
Taking time off could mean missing out on business opportunities or a loss of revenue. Coupled with any vacation costs, that's a double hit on the bank balance.
ADVICE: No matter how big the fear is, taking time off is essential. Not only for recharging the batteries but for inspiration. For more information on how time off can benefit you, read this.
7) Your health will suffer
Long hours, grabbing food on-the-go, lack of sleep and not taking time off will finally catch up with you. There's only so much your body can take before you burn out.
ADVICE: Work is important but your health is the priority. You must practice good-self care. Otherwise, your business and everything else in your life will suffer.
Most businesses fail in the first two years because of cash flow issues. They generate income but not quickly enough to offset the gigantic costs at the beginning.
ADVICE: Richard Branson recommends for the first two years, focus not on growth but on survival. Keep costs down. Look for business partners, interns, friends and family members who can support you. And have something you can offer them in return.
9) You have to like engaging with people
Your success is heavily reliant on the relationships you build with your clients, customers, employees, business partners etc. If you don’t like engaging with people, you might find setting up your own business challenging.
ADVICE: Work with a coach to help you identify what the issues are. If it's fear, they will help you overcome it. If it's because you're a natural introvert, they will show you how to make that work for you and not against you. If it's a fear of rejection, here are some practical tips on how to be instantly likeable.
10) You have to be OK with failure
You will face setbacks. It's part of the game. But a setback doesn’t have to mean the end. It simply means a change of direction is required. Remember – there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.
ADVICE: If fear of failure is holding you back, working with a coach or mentor can help.
11) You need to be patient
There is this overwhelming sense of "I have to do everything, right now!". This can lead to a constant state of rushing and stress.
ADVICE: The key thing here is focus. Look at what would be most beneficial to your business and focus on that. You will do all the other stuff. But just focus on one thing for now and see where that takes you.
12) You have to be self-motivated
You will have nobody to tell you you’re doing a good job. Or to encourage you on days when things have gone wrong. Or how you can improve. At this stage, you might even wish you had a boss!
ADVICE: Get familiar with the “Self high-five”. It will become your best friend.