Three Things Every Budding Entrepreneur Must Remember
Congratulations, you’ve decided to be an entrepreneur! Whether you’ve planned and plotted extensively for this career, or only just stumbled on the road to entrepreneurship, welcome to This Entrepreneurial Life.
Personal aside: When I founded my company over 30 years ago, I could not have foreseen it would have turned out the way it did. I remember what it was like to be a budding entrepreneur: very hard and demanding work, sometimes for little or no (but eventually much more) compensation, and sometimes for even less recognition. And it was so worth it!
As an emerging entrepreneur ready to “start your own thing,” you must be aware of a few key facets of the “business” of being a self-employed professional with your own company and brand. Before you get too overeager and start printing business cards, ask yourself: Who sets the budget? Who schedules business hours? Who decides what to do or make?
Here are a few questions to recognize and consider as you set out on the entrepreneurial life:
Where’s the Money?
You know you have a lot to pay for—food, rent, fun, and other of life’s essentials. That will always be true. As an entrepreneur stepping away from another job with a reliable income, you must factor in the uncertainty of where the money will come from. Certainly for many of us, it will at first be difficult to attain a steady stream of prospects and profits. I recommend to start saving money before you leave your corporate gig. A good rule of thumb but not necessarily true of everyone’s circumstances: you should have about a year’s worth of income tucked away before you go it alone. If you don’t have any savings or other “easy” access to money, consider a crowd-funding venture (beware as these efforts aren’t as easy as you may think!) or keep a second job to take in additional, much-needed cash. We live in a “gig” economy, so carefully consider your options, such as working shorter-term contracts.
How many hours? A lot.
As hard as you think you’re going to work, the truth is you’re going to have to work even harder. It’s incredible to think of all the tasks you will be immediately responsible for once you open for business. As an entrepreneur, the saying “Chief, cook, and bottle washer” was never so true. Sales, marketing, accounting, business development—chances are you will not have sufficient resources to help you in these all-important areas of the business.
But don’t wait for too long. Once you begin to generate revenue, examine your business closely to determine what functions you can outsource—or perhaps hire staff for—while retaining those tasks that are mission critical and that only you can do.
If You Build It They Will Come… (Eventually)
Time for a reality check: even if you have the most exceptional product or service, business is not guaranteed. Part of working hard involves standing out from your competition and striving to attract potential clients. There is huge prospecting power in creating a solid brand and gaining visibility, recognition, and, yes, business, through carefully planned marketing initiatives, including social media campaigns, speaking engagements, direct and email marketing, trade shows, public relations, and more. And even as prospects begin to knock on your door courtesy of timely, targeted marketing, remember that you must have a sales process and sales competencies to turn those prospects into revenue producing business. That’s the name of the game, right?
Congratulations, again, on approaching this journey! Your hard work and toil will inevitably bring you great joy and success.