Ever thought about starting up your own business? Or maybe you’ve wondered whether you’re suited to being self-employed and running a business?
Well, what do you think it takes to be successful with your own small business – and why would you want to anyway? If these are questions that you’ve been considering, then read on and let’s explore these issues together ….
Potential benefits and rewards
As you do when making any major decision in life, you weigh up what you stand to gain against what you might risk losing – or in other words, the pros versus the cons.
Let me declare my bias on this issue – I’ve been running my own consulting business for over 20 tears and personally couldn’t envisage returning to a job where I must answer to someone else. Although, having said that – in a way I must answer regularly to my customers.
So from my own experience, and having dealt with other small business owners, benefits can include things like ……
- Independence and freedom to do what you think is right. Being your own boss means you get to make the big decisions yourself
- After the hard-slog of having established the business, there can be a degree of flexibility in your working hours
- The satisfaction of building something that is yours and may even become a legacy
- The considerable challenge of building and running a business – applying your skills and abilities to overcome difficulties and problems that will arise
- If you’ve gotten things right – in terms of the planning, the marketing, the finances and the customer service – then you can enjoy potentially greater financial rewards when working for yourself, instead of being paid by by an employer
The risks and stresses
- Being self-employed carries some uncertainty – sometimes demand for your product or services can be variable, so you’ve got to be able to ride this out the quieter times without getting overly-anxious
- If you’re running a business that carries high overhead costs then this can carry the pressure of feeling the need to generate sufficient sales to at the very least break-even. In other words for example, you’re not quite so anxious if you’re running a home based service business as opposed to running a store where you have a lease and must pay monthly rent.
- Just because you’ve got good technical skills – such as being a great plumber, hairdresser, chef or mechanic – doesn’t mean that you’ll be good at running a business. Why? ……. Because business skills are different. You’ve got to be very organised, you need to be able to sell, you need some basic financial management skill in keeping financial records and making sure that you’re generating a profit.
- The first 12 months comprises typically long hours – you will usually end up working much harder than when you were employed by someone else. This is because there’s a lot more to do – things like making calls to customers and booking appointments and sending out invoices and sometimes chasing up unpaid accounts and paying your own business bills ……. There will be tasks that may have been performed by someone else when you were working for a company – but now, it’s all done by you. Probably you won’t be employing anyone to do the accounts, sales or administration for a while – until you see some stability in your cash flow and you start feeling confidence in the viability of your business.
You don’t have to be a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs to run your own business. But here’s some of the qualities that I have found can be helpful….
i) Self-belief – a sense of confidence that you’ve got what it takes. Although realistically, I don’t think this means being completely free of self-doubt
ii) Persistence, drive and stamina to get through the challenging times. But it’s easier to persevere with something when you feel passionate about it.
iii) Be open-minded, possessing a desire to learn and improve. Seek advice from people who are successful in running a business; learn as much as you can from the experience of others.
iv) People skills –you’ve got to be able to build relationships with customers and get along with different people
v) Accepts responsibility and avoids making excuses – the buck stops with you when it’s your business. If things go wrong, then it’s up to you to fix it
So, is running your own business right for you? Only you can be the judge of that. There is definitely increased responsibility – but whether this will prove to be an exciting challenge or a stressful burden depends upon how you perceive it all.
If you’re still unsure, then possibly see if there’s a way that you can start out small to minimise the risk – try it out to see if it all “fits you”. Maybe you can trial it part time before making the big break away from being an employee to becoming self-employed. In closing, I’m reminded of some advice given to me many years ago …..“You don’t want to die wondering” ……. Whatever you choose to do, I hope it gives you the fulfilment that you deserve.
By the way, a great resource site is Australia Small Business, which features interviews with many successful small business owners – and they offer plenty of great tips and advice on starting and growing your own business.
About the author
Brian Carroll is the founder of Performance Development, a corporate training company in Melbourne, Australia. He is a qualified psychologist, experienced interview coach and an engaging presenter, with a passion for helping people develop their full capabilities. You can find out more about Brian at his Google + profile