Are you considering starting a business? Or maybe you are at a cross-roads with your own business and contemplating a big decision. I know that feeling. I remember the nervousness when I walked into my old corporate job with my resignation letter in my hand and I have that same feeling now as Mr Love Give Ink and I are considering a possible big next step. I can’t stop thinking about it – is it the right thing to do? Am I ready? So, how do you know? Here’s what I wish I’d known two years ago and what I am telling myself now.
Accept you will never be fully ready
It’s ok to feel the fear. Starting a business is not something to be taken lightly, and if you do have the same nervousness as me that’s because you are taking it seriously, and that’s a good thing.
Whether you’ve had a business idea for years or whether this is a fairly new thing, you may never feel fully ready because there is always some risk that comes with starting up. Know that it isn’t going to be easy and accept that you can’t make all of the uncertainty go away, and realise that this is the start of being an entrepreneur.
Are you passionate about your idea?
The heart of entrepreneurship is to love what you do. Ask yourself – why are you starting your business? Are you truly excited about your idea? Does it make you want to leap out of bed in the morning?
Starting a business because you want to make money, or prove a point, or because you are fed up of your current job are not good reasons. You need to feel so excited about your idea and what you believe you can turn it into; i.e. you need to be not running away from something, but starting out on a journey towards a goal you have an unshakable belief in.
Why do I say this? Because starting and running a business is hard work. It is not something to be taken lightly. I hadn’t realised that I would end up working even more hours than I have ever worked before and there may be difficult times. So, if you are not passionate about this, walk away now.
Write a business plan
Too many people start a business with only an idea. You need more than an idea – you need a plan. This means a written plan that includes an understanding of your target customers, your market, your financial projections, your marketing strategies etc. A ‘back of the fag packet’ job is not enough.
The thought of writing a business plan may seem daunting (you don’t have time for this, you want to start a business!), but having a robust plan is invaluable. Actually writing down your operations, where your sales are going to come from, what you are going to do and importantly not going to do will force you to think through the detail.
Your business plan will also be your roadmap as you launch – once you get going it is very easy to get stuck into the detail, but your business plan is a constant reminder of your longer-term strategies and goals. Importantly, it also provides you with targets to measure your progress against so you know whether you are being successful.
Work out the financials
A good business plan will include information on the financial side of starting and running your business. Many business are not profitable in the first 1-2 years so you need to make sure you have thought this through. Where is your cash flow going to come from? (Cash flow is different to the amount of money your business will spend overall in a year – you may need more at the start than you think). You also need to have worked out how you will survive financially without the regular income from a steady job.
Make the decision
So, you’ve got your idea that you are truly passionate about, you have written your business plan and thought through the above. Now, you need to go for it! Yes there are details still to be worked through, but make the decision. Are you ready or not? Don’t let your idea sit there for years or let fear of failure hold you back. As Peter Drucker said: ‘In every success story you will find someone who has made a courageous decision’. Be brave today and start your own success story.
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