A recent survey showed that over 20% of the current workforce are have either started their own business, are about to start a business or plan to do so in the next three years. This is an unprecedented exodus from cubicle nation, described by some observers as an entrepreneurial revolution. It's easy to look at this and feel the irresistable urge to tell your boss where to stick his job and hop onto a bandwagon that is really gaining traction and momentum. Before you throw away your career to start up your own business, it is a good idea to pause and ask yourself a few soul searching questions about what you are about to do. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Here are twelve questions that every prospective small business owner should ask themselves before downing tools and joining the entrepreneurial revolution.
If business ownership is what you are looking for, then how about owning a share in the company you work for now? If this is a public company, this should be really easy. Many public companies offer preferential rates for employees. If it's a smaller company, perhaps the boss wants to retire soon and you could buy an increasing share of the business as he edges ever closer to retirement? Either way, starting your own company is not the only way to own a business (or at least part of it).
People tend to always have a “grass is greener” mentality. You might be envious of something you don’t have, but once you do have it, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Remember that you don’t want to quit your job and go full force into something else only to realize that you’re even more unhappy in the new situation. Do what you can to research and participate in your new plans to make sure that it’s the right path for you. The best way to test the waters is to actually start your business part time. While it’s not always feasible to do this and there are some disadvantages to straddling the fence, this might just be the right path for you. You can work your day job and then spend your evening developing the new business. Not many people have large amounts of available funds to launch a business and deal with the fact that most new businesses are not profitable right away. So if you’re still gathering income from your other job while you launch your new one, the transition won’t be as difficult. Or, you might just realise that your bulletproof business idea isn't quite as bulletproof as you first suspected, in which case you'll have been saved alot of embarrassment.
The hours are long, the challenges come thick and fast and it can be lonely at the top, coping with the pressure of having to make all the important decisions. If your health is frail or you have depressive tendencies, it would be very sensible to get a check up with your GP before even thinking about going it alone. In fact, this would probably be sound advice for everyone considering making the move from employment to self employment.
Life is too short to turn up day in day out to do something that you really don't want to do. Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford University Commencement Speech
"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something".
Maybe the change you need is to quit your job and start-up for yourself. Be careful, though, because the novelty of running your own small business soon wears off and you are left with the hard work. If you are in love with the business idea but not the work that comes with it, you'll soon find your new business just as disappointing as your old job.
Some decisions we make ourselves. Others we make under emotional duress. Do we want to start this business or does your wife/partner/brother/sister/friend/colleague? Be sure that this is coming from you, otherwise you are better served encouraging the person pushing you just to do themselves what they want you to do.
This suggestion might lack some of the romance we normally associate with starting your own business but it is very important, not just for you but for your nascent business, that your personal finances are in the best possible shape going into this venture. Could you, for example, take early retirement or a redundancy deal rather than just walk out of the door with nothing but that month's wages. I know that the urge to tell your boss to get lost can be almost irresistible but don't chop off your nose to spite your face. If toughing it out for another few months puts you in a stronger position financially, then it is well worth considering the timing of your decision to quit.
Oftentimes, the impetus for small business owners to strike out on their own is that they feel that they differ in their vision of where a particular market is heading. If you just can't make them see any other way, perhaps proving them wrong by successfully exploiting the very thing you disagreed about would be a good way to win that argument.
Employment contracts often prohibit former employees from setting up in business, especially in direct competition with their former employer. The last thing you need is expensive litigation in the first year of your new start business so just be sure what the official position of your company would be if you were to jump ship to pursue your own venture.
Again, a common catalyst for the jump into small business ownership is the fear that your employer is about to go bust. If it really is, this could be the perfect time to set up on your own, perhaps even buying some of the company assets from the receiver in order to get off to a flying start yourself.
This is an intolerable situation. If work is unbearably uncomfortable and you think you could do a better job, it's sometimes well worth giving it a go.
Perhaps your employer is funding a qualification and that is causing you to have itchy feet. Perhaps you are still very new in your job and you are learning a skill that will be critical in your new business. Wait till you have learned what you absolutely need to know or till you have the bit of paper you need until you jump ship.
Be sure that you can afford to make the change. If you can't make it six months on your savings, go back to the drawing board or start cutting expenses before you leave your present job. Don't put financial pressures on yourself - you'll have plenty of other pressures to work through. Be prepared to cut the frills and live lean during the search months. You can make up for it later.
That's it. The rallying cry of those leaving their jobs to participate in the Entrepreneurial Revolution can be seductive, but make sure you look before you leap. Small business ownership isn't for everyone, but you'll be better equipped to face the challenges of starting your own business if you consider these twelve points before you quit the day job. Good luck out there and if you need a helping hand, remember that Continuous Business Planning are only a phone call away.