So, you’ve decided you want to start a business. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part. Whatever the reasons for wanting your own business, it will take a lot of hard work to make it a success, which is why it’s very important to have everything in place and ready to go before you decide to jump off the entrepreneurial cliff. So before you go into your boss’s office to say “I quit!” and strike out on your own, here is some advice that will help you swim rather than sink:
- Look before you leap. The fact is, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Eighty percent of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. That’s a startling statistic. But starting and owning a business is not for the faint of heart – it takes a huge commitment, both in terms of time and finances. If you’re not willing to work as many as 80 hours a week (or more!) and sink a lot of your own money into the business (and possibly that of family and friends), especially at first, then perhaps you should think about it a bit more. This article from allbusiness.com has some excellent reasons why you should not start a business. If you see yourself on this list, perhaps a life as a business owner is not for you.
- Make sure your business is something you really love. Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs said starting and maintaining a business is really hard, so if you don’t have passion for what you do, you are more likely to give it up. “So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up,” Jobs said in a DIYGenius interview. “And that’s what happens to most people, actually. If you really look at the ones that ended up, you know, being ‘successful’ in the eyes of society and the ones that didn’t, oftentimes, it’s the ones who were successful (that) loved what they did so they could persevere when it got really tough.”
- Be in your business 100%. While some experts suggest you may be able to start out by working at your business at night and on weekends, venture capitalist and “Shark Tank” star Kevin O’Leary says otherwise. “You’re really not in it until you’re 100% in it,” he said in interview with Forbes.com. “So I really don’t invest in people who are still working in one place and working on the business on the side. That’s not a real entrepreneur. The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who is willing to take risk. You leave your job, go 110% into something and you make it happen. I don’t invest in people who work somewhere else. That’s not a real entrepreneur. That’s a wannabe.”
- Create a great team of professionals who have your back. A new business will need all kinds of behind the scenes people that will help ensure your success – or tell you when it is lacking. Accountants, attorneys, seasoned entrepreneurs, mentors and other business people whom you respect can all provide advice and guidance as you navigate the often choppy waters of entrepreneurship. They have the “been there done that” type of experience that gives them a unique perspective on a new business and its owner, and the accountants and attorneys will make sure your finances and legal matters are in order.
- Have a business plan. Would you set out on a road trip to a place you’ve never been before without a road map to guide you there? Probably not. However, if you start your business without a business plan, that’s exactly what you’re doing. A good business plan is a road map for your business, with both short and long term goals (12 months, five years, 10 years, etc.), and how you plan to reach those goals. You carefully chose a name for your business, and did your homework to make sure everything is financially and legally tight, so take a little more time to develop a business plan. And don’t forget to revisit it occasionally – businesses change and evolve over time, so the goals you have for your business today probably won’t be the same five years from now.
- Choose reliable and reputable vendors and service providers. Nothing can cause more angst and worry than vendors who don’t deliver on time or services that don’t work when you need them. Of course sometimes delays are unavoidable, but if you are a merchant and your most recent shipment of merchandise is late in arriving, that can seriously affect your business. Similarly, if your POS system doesn’t work as it’s designed to, you will lose customers. Look for established companies with records of success, such as PayAnywhere, a POS solution that has the backing of North American Bancard, an award-winning payment processor with almost 25 years of experience in the payments industry.
Entrepreneurship and starting your own business takes a lot of hard work and perseverance and it can be years before you are established in your industry, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. It’s not for everyone, but with the above tips and the support of family and friends, you and your business can flourish. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next Steve Jobs.