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Have you ever thought about leaving your day job and really striking out on your own? There may come a time when you’re at work, look around, and suddenly realise that this it isn’t really enough for you anymore. When that time comes, you may decide that it’s no longer enough for you to be just another employee: it’s time to become an entrepreneur, and have your own staff of your own. It’ll take time to get the ideas, funding, and so on together. Once you do, you’re ready to dive in and see what you’re made of! But beware: there are some things you (and I hint hint) need to know beforehand...
It’s On You Now
People can sometimes take for granted just how simple being an employee really is. You turn up at the office, do the tasks you’ve been assigned, and, with a bit of luck, head home at the end of the day. The actual running of the company and the direction that it’s heading in? That’s not on you. But it will be on you when you have your own company. Every decision that needs to be made, from the type of printer you buy to the ambience of your office, will have to come from you. Be prepared to have more responsibility than you’ve ever had at work! I know this can be the scariest part of striking out on your own but with perseverance you know you have gotten through lots of hard work and life lessons. And that is why....drumroll...I am looking forward to pursuing my blog and small business on a more full time basis. It is on me now, so I am really looking at each of these reminders as I take this leap of faith.
Numbers Will Become Important
You have to wear many different types of hat when you’re an entrepreneur. Your actual area of expertise is going to be important, but given the varied range of tasks that are involved in running a company, there’s going to be many more tasks that you have to take care of, too. Take numbers. You need to be aware of your incomings, outgoings, taxes, and just about everything else concerned with your company’s financial health. Before you make the jump to entrepreneur, you might want to brush up on your mathematics skills, or set aside a portion of your budget for hiring a person to take care of all these details for you. I am not a numbers girl but luckily I married a numbers guy and I got my MBA while I was working. This has really been a big help in preparing to strike out on my own and thinking through the real numbers that I will face. If you are ever considering going back for a degree while working or just taking a continuing education class, I am always happy to answer any questions - I have done both and I think they have been invaluable.
Doing as You Please
In your current or most recent job, you’ll likely have had a degree of freedom. But that degree existed within the broader framework of your company’s goals and aspirations, as well as it’s employee guidelines. Now that you’re out on your own, you have unfiltered creative license; whatever you want to do with your company is fine; it is, after all, yours! This can be liberating, but it can also be a little bit scary. The key is to trust yourself to do the right thing! I still plan to plan to keep a "workday" as I would in an office so that I can stay on task (But see note below "The Clock Is Off")
Thinking Like a Boss
After many years of being an employee, it can be disconcerting to suddenly find yourself in charge of other employees, because being a boss requires a type of thinking that may you not currently possess. The trick is not to overthink your title and lead by example. You’ll also want to brush up on some of your responsibilities, such as following the ACAS code of practice and how much holiday time you have to give each employee. It can take many years to learn how to become a great boss; to begin with, focus on getting the essentials right and then wait for the other qualities to sink in. And the golden rule can never hurt - remember what bosses you loved and try to emulate that.
You’ll Need Extra Help
You’ll be telling people that you’re “setting out on your own,” but that’s not really the case. There’s not an entrepreneur on earth who set up their company all on their own; everyone receives help, and you will too. When you’re first setting out, it’s a good idea to engage in a bit of self-analysis and identify what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you discover that there’s an important area of business that you don’t really know how to do to a high standard, then look at roping outside help. You can outsource tasks to another company, or hire an employee on a short-term basis if you don’t have the budget to hire a full-time employee for that task.
The Clock is Off
Ah, the simple joys of being an employee. You can waltz in five minutes before you’re due to start, work a solid day (or sometimes, when you’re extra tired, just phone it in), and then clock out and leave the stresses of the day behind. This isn’t really the case when you’re the boss. Then, there is no such thing as a working day; the clock is off. You might find that you’re getting up at 7 am to work on your business, and then finally closing your laptop at 11 pm at night on some days. It’ll be worthwhile setting a structure to your day, and sticking to it, that’s for sure. And for me this has been the current trend anyway if you have a day job plus a side hustle - you are already accustomed to working all hours so you know you can do it.
Perfection Doesn't Exist
If you have only one task to do, then go nuts: you can strive for perfection as long as the people waiting for the task to be completed will let you. When you’re a boss, you can’t have the same standards: there are simply too many tasks to be done. If you’re a person with high standards for everything, you might have to learn to let some things go if you’re going to make the kinds of progress your business will need. There also may be things you just don't do until you can. I have wanted to started a podcast and youtube channel for a while but knew I could not take on any more while I had my full time job. Now I hope to have time for those but realize each one of these media can be a full time job so I will have to do what I can in each
You’ll Want to Keep Your Bridges Intact
You should always start a business with the belief that it’ll succeed, but the fact is that many businesses do fail. As such, you’ll want to make sure that you haven’t burned any bridges that prevent you returning to your old job. Always leave on good terms, and don’t rock the boat by pinching employees or setting up a company that’s in direct competition with your old employers. I work in the biggest small town in the US (HTX) and you may also need a reference for future clients and your current bosses are your "clients" so it will be important to always treat them with respect and work with them on any transition you may make.
You’re Going to be in Unfamiliar Territory
If running a business was easy, then everyone would be doing it. When you jump off the ship of a stable job, you’re going to find yourself in unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory from time to time. Don’t fight it, embrace it!
You Can Do It
Finally, know this: everyone has doubts when they start a company. Never forget that you’re able to achieve your dreams! Work hard, trust yourself, and move forward with confidence. I will keep you up to date on the ups and downs of my new decision to pursue my business dreams and continue to give you my lessons learned.
And now it's your turn? Any advice I should get from you? My ears are open!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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