“The best fights are those fought by those without a Plan B.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Jumping into business ownership is daunting. How do you know when it is time to let go of your previous life? How can you be sure that your new endeavor will lead to success? The truth is, there is no end-all, be-all advice regarding the right time to jump all in or whether or not you will be successful. There are things you can do, however, that can increase the odds of fulfilling your dreams.
Tip 1: Plan, plan, plan
Creating a road map for your business is integral to your success. Not only do you need to know where you are starting from, but you also need to know what your goals are for month 1, month 6, 1 year, and 5 years. Working through these goals can help you to understand what you need to do to reach them. From here, write a list of the top activities that in the end will lead to you reaching your goals. For example, in my business, we need clients. Most of our clients come from personal relationships, referrals, and outbound marketing. In order to be successful, each week I need to reach more prospects or referral partners. Even if I’m swamped with current projects, I need to make sure I am continually touching new businesses.
In addition to planning for how you will get your first clients, you also need to plan your offerings. Create a list of all the services you can provide and create sample bundles or packages. What if someone only needs help with one aspect of what you provide, how will you charge? What if they want something you haven’t thought of, but have the skills to tackle, will you create a custom service offering for that client?
When I started out, I thought I would only be offering data analysis for marketing efforts. I thought I would be helping clients to understand what works and what doesn’t work as a way to tailor their marketing efforts. Though this is something I do, I was able to listen to my tribe and completely shift my messaging and packages to align with what the market actually needed.
Regardless of how much planning you do, your business plan is going to change.
“We should always have a plan B, but at the same time, treat plan A like it were our only option.”
― Izey Victoria Odiase
Tip 2: Surround yourself with positivity, but not naivety
We all have cheerleaders. Often in business, however, these cheerleaders are wrong to not give push back. Your idea may not actually be all that great. This isn’t to say that you can’t make it in business, it’s just that someone who always agrees with you isn’t going to get you to the place where you will find the most successes.
Though you need to remove negative energy of people pulling you back and second guessing your move to entrepreneurship, you need to also make sure that the positive energy you are surround yourself in is made of people who have been through your same journey and can help give push back when you are approaching a common pitfall. The people you surround yourself with will have a direct effect on your ability to succeed. Find mentors and other business owners who can talk you through marketing, technology, hiring and firing, taxes, etc.
Tip 3: Don’t have a Plan B
Here I mean don’t plan on needing your plan b. Jump head first into your business and don’t get distracted. Though your offerings may change, you need to stay course that you are now a business owner. The most successful businesses take shifts in the market in stride, but never second guess their decision to be in business.
“I don’t believe we should carry backup
plans in life’s suitcase—
they’re too easy to unpack
like living a life in yoga pants,
so comfortable our hips spread
into new timezones…”
― Kelli Russell Agodon,
Tip 4: Have backup funds to support you as you jump in
Try not to jump ship unless you have some residual income, clients, or savings already in place. As a new business, you don’t want to feel as though you need to work with every prospect you meet and you don’t want to come across as though you are begging for the next gig. Though being on the verge of bankruptcy can motivate some, most of us will become distracted from our daily activities if you need to constantly worry about money. Additionally, make sure you have truthful discussions with your spouse about how spending and budgeting will need to change and be realistic about startup expenses. Things always take longer and cost more than you initially estimate.
Tip 5: Throw all this advice away (except the part about listening to your market)
If you know it is time to jump into your own business, just do it. You only live life once, why not make it the most fulfilling life you can. I think the number one reason why people decide to be a business owner is that they are worried about security, health insurance, managing their time, but when you just jump into it, you learn to make things work.
I didn’t set out to be a business owner, but somehow freelancing turned into a full time income. Now I can’t get enough. I encourage all of you with a business idea to give it a shot. Start taking on clients on the side or developing your MVP (minimum viable product). Keep your salary, but work towards being self sufficient. In the end you will thank your employer for funding your budding business.
Best of Luck!