Since the vast majority of jobs are repetitious, it is only natural at times for the mind to wander at work and for those who hold down jobs to become frustrated and think to themselves “I could run a company like this myself”. This is a romantic vision, and the idea of “being your own boss” is an appealing one upon first thought. Much of the time, however, these aspirations are not followed through. A University of Phoenix survey shows that 63% of people in their twenties either own or would like to own their own company, so that ambition is certainly there, but the reality is that many are eventually turned off the idea due to what they perceive as being a daunting task.
This is a shame, because with the hard work that naturally goes hand-in-hand with running a company come all kinds of plus points. With this in mind, this article is geared towards those who harbor ambitions of being a company owner, but struggle to make that definite decision:
1. Think hard about whether you want to do it
Yes, this seems like a no-brainer, but starting a business on a whim is a terrible idea. Don’t simply come home after a bad day at the office and make a decision there and then to do things your way or no way. For a business to succeed, its owner has to move away from the maverick frame of mind that might lead them to consider business ownership, and instead adopt a long-term view about whether they really want to take the plunge, and whether they have the mentality and personality to make their model a success.
Consider carefully what you’re leaving behind – it may be a secure job with set hours. If the lure of going it alone remains strong, read on.
2. Talk to others in the same boat
Business owners are always more than happy to chat about their experiences, and what they found challenging in the early days of their venture. Be sure to discuss your ideas with a wide range of businesspeople – not just those running similar companies to your own. Organizations like the SBA and SCORE are regularly hosting workshops, many of which are free to attend, and these offer an ideal opportunity for networking and the exchange of ideas.
3. Create your business plan
You read correctly, this is the third point down on my list. Many business owners would suggest this one first, but a plan takes time, effort and research to put together, and there’s little point in exerting yourself to this before you have put the necessary thought and investigation into whether business ownership is right for you.
One of the beauties of the business plan is that it forces the prospective business owner to think ahead – often five years or more into the future. Startups frequently fail because the person behind them has failed to think beyond the first year, or has adopted a “we’ll just see how it goes” attitude. If you seriously hope to make waves with your business, you need to have at least your first three years planned out.
Again, workshops guided by experts in the field can help you out here. I attended several in my days as a fledgling company owner, and benefited just from being around business professionals, let alone from the advice of trained instructors.
4. Find the funding
Of course, this is one of the main stumbling blocks for would-be business owners, but it is not the headache that many people expect. In most cases, the SBA is able to help out with a range of loans suitable to varying types of businesses.
A fear that deters some hopefuls is that of not being able to repay the loan if the business struggles, but remember that the loan will not be approved unless the SBA is confident you will be able to repay it from your cashflow. Even so, some business professionals recommend a ‘plan B’, such as collateral, should the worst happen, and always be sure to have some funds in the bank for any hiccups that might arise along the way.
5. Be prepared for the ride
At least in the early stages of your business, you should expect to say goodbye to the idea of set hours and regular, consistent paychecks every month. You’re likely to find yourself with more work than one person can manage in an ordinary working day, so you’ll need to be flexible about your tasks and not take up a mentality of ‘clocking off’ at a certain time every day.
However, you’ll likely find this comes more naturally as a company owner than it would do if you were working for someone else. If you’re passionate about your enterprise and are determined for it to succeed, you won’t mind putting in the extra hours.
As a starting point, I would suggest the SBA website and simply talking as much as you can to fellow business owners. There’s no substitute for first-hand experience, and you’ll be surprised at how much you take in from casual conversation.
Darren Jamieson is the Technical Director of Engage Web and writes for Minuteman Press on franchising in the US and throughout Canada, Australia and his native United Kingdom. He has extensive knowledge of the franchise industry, and of running a business, having helped many franchise clients through Engage Web.
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