Just imagine the perks of becoming your own boss! No more answering to anyone above you. No more glass ceilings. No more having to work a schedule determined by someone else. Now you can finally do everything the way you feel it should be done, all while reaping heaps of cash never before achievable.
Sounds good, doesn't it? As an entrepreneur myself, I can say all of the above truly is magnificent! But it's not for everybody. It takes an ironclad work ethic, discipline, passion, and time to get the point where you begin to reap these rewards.
Once you've decided to start a new business venture you instantly gain the rewards mentioned above, minus reaping heaps of cash. But keeping those benefits going along with getting to the point where you will be making money will require meticulous planning in addition to consistent hard work.
Money is the lifeblood of business. Without it, your business will die.
Most business ventures will require an infusion of capital. So not only will you lose your steady paycheck if you are currently working for someone else but you will also have to fork over those savings to begin this venture. Don't have savings (like I didn't at first)? Then you will have to convince someone, whether it be a bank or an individual, to lend you some cash to get started.
Starting a business without ever going into the red has about as much probability as winning the lottery. So planning for this before you lose that steady paycheck is crucial. You must know how your business will make revenue, what its expenses will be, and the time it will take for the revenue stream to exceed the expenses to a point where you can now derive a living from the profits.
Plan out how you will breathe life into your business.
I'm not going to sugar coat this part. It's hard. You have to essentially pretend to have a crystal ball and predict what your, as of right now, imaginary business will produce. If you have experience in the field you will be going into already that's a plus, but you still will have unforeseens to deal with if you've never owned your own business before.
So here's the part where you develop a business plan. The more detail you can put into this plan the better. A nice, perfectly laid out plan will give you clarity on what you need to do and what order you need to do it in. Consult with multiple people before accepting any plan you have put together. The more diversity of experience that can be contributed to your plan the better, and it goes without saying that you want the opinions of the people that are already in the same business trenches you are about to enter.
Another important point about forming your business plan is to incorporate some plan B's, C's, and D's just in case things don't go exactly the way you predict. Again, not having to deviate from some of the details of your initial plan has the same odds as winning the lottery, so expect to have to adapt on the spot, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
If you've gotten to this point and have outlined an entire plan of action that has met with approval from multiple peers/colleagues and is good enough to convince a lender to believe it is capable of making money the way you promise it will, you've hit the first step. It is amazing how many people go into business and put minimal effort into this step, and it is one of the greatest predictors of failure or success.
Be honest with yourself. You have to have confidence you can do this.
Now you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself! Do you have what it takes to execute that beautifully outlined plan you just came up with? What are your outside obligations that may cause you to have to deviate from your plan? Are you a parent with young kids? Got an elderly family member you're looking after? Struggling with an addiction? Are you dating? Are you susceptible to any other distractions that may serve to derail you from executing your business plan of action? It's okay if you are. You wouldn't be human if you weren't, but know very clearly what your distractions are and how you intend to cope with them before you start. These distractions should be factored into your plan. This applies from the opposite side of the fence as well. Make time for your friends and family while executing your plan or you may lose them!
You are going to have to be self-reliant in a way you never have been before. Do you trust yourself? Would you want to do business with you? Are you confident enough to take on anything, and I mean anything, that might be thrown your way unexpectedly? Are you prepared to go over budget (in all likeliness, this will happen)? Are you prepared to be denied that government approval that would potentially stop the execution of your plan in its tracks? Can you cope with sales not occurring anywhere near what you thought they would be? Factor in every angle possible and play devil's advocate to deliberately challenge the integrity of your plan. If your confidence level breaks down as a result of any of these kinds of hardship, your business venture will fail before it even begins. Remain strong, confident, and clear-headed (not over-confident) and you will be more apt to find solutions where you never thought they were possible.
Be prepared for unforeseen events.
If you have had the clarity and wisdom to make it this far, congratulations! It's not easy to get here, but you're not done yet. In fact, you haven't even started yet. Now comes time for the leap of faith; do or die. It's time to take action! It's time to execute your business plan. At this point you must perform another self-check, primarily focusing on how you deal with fear. You are about to step into the unknown, and the unknown is the equivalent of darkness. We're naturally afraid of the dark for a reason, and that reason is because we have no idea what may be lurking in the shadows. Before you venture into the dark business wilderness, remember that your business plan is your map of how to get to where you want to go and your self esteem/self awareness as well as your experience is your flashlight to cut through the darkness. Remember, too, that others with similar mindsets of high self esteem/self awareness coupled with experience in your chosen field can also serve as beacons of light to help you along the way.
Stick with it. Remain strong and persevere.
You must remain in this mental mode throughout the life of your business. Challenges never stop. But if you have planned well, executed well, and adapted when adaptation was necessary, then you will be reaping the real rewards of being your own boss, both financially and independently. It will get easier as you gain experience and the start-up stress lessens with time moving on. How much time? I would say 3-7 years depending on your type of business and your location. Out of all new business start-ups, more than half of them fail within the first 6 months. Out of those that survive the first 6 months, more than half of them fail within the first 2 years. And, guess what? Out of those that survived the first 2 years, more than half of them fail within the first 5 years. After 5 years, however, most businesses are solid. The 5 year test seems to encompass enough challenges to see whether you and your business will stand the test of time or not.
So if you like a steady paycheck, don't like marketing, and prefer other people instructing you as to what to do so you don't have to bear the burden of responsibility, then becoming your own boss is definitely not for you, and that's okay. There have been many times I've wished I didn't have to worry about employees' payroll, firing, hiring, not getting paid sick time, not getting paid vacations, or being solely responsible for the failure of a particular marketing campaign.
For me, however, clearer skies have always waited on the other side of the turmoil to make it worth it. So if it is for you, prepare for it. It won't be easy, but nothing in life that's worth having comes easy. Once you've got it, the blood, sweat, and the tears you will have shed for it will not have been in vain!