Deciding to become an entrepreneur is a big decision. You may be a stay-at-home parent ready to re-enter the work world as an entrepreneur to maintain flexibility in your life or you may be in the corporate world and always dreaming of what you would rather be doing with your life. Whatever the reason, there are many things to consider and plan for when you feel called to move into entrepreneurship.
You want to list all jobs you have ever had (volunteer or other) and what responsibilities you had. What are the skills or knowledge that you built up in these different jobs or positions that will be helpful as an entrepreneur? For example, a leadership position in PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) requires tremendous leadership and organization skills. What else? You want to be able to capitalize on or leverage these skills.
After you’ve figured out the skills you already possess, you have to take into consideration all that goes into starting your own business (everything from pitching to investors to taking out the trash). Be realistic about what you can and can’t do, then look at ways you can gain more skills and knowledge, which brings us to the next step.
What other skills do you need to build if you are building your own company? You may need to start a company as a solopreneur and not have funds for hiring all the expertise you may not have.
Figure out what you need to know and go take classes online or in person. Take a look at your local colleges, community centers and libraries, you’ll likely find there are a ton of options for night courses. If your current company has tuition reimbursement, you may even be able to take classes through them if it will help you be more effective in your current job.
Personally, I went out and took classes in Photoshop and in web-design so I understood the language and could maintain my own website once it was built. Those two classes and the skills I gained from them have saved me thousands of dollars and it is easy to do.
When you start your own company, if you are funding it through your own personal income, you need to have the expected funds saved. I also recommend having a good savings account in place to support you until you can build up your sales. The truth is, with more start-up businesses, the revenue doesn’t come in right away so being prepared financially is a must. Ask yourself, ‘How are you going to fund your growth? How long will it last? In business, this is called your runway. Understanding how long your business can ‘run on red’ and dividing your current cash position by your monthly burn rate is an important part of cash-flow management.
This is also the perfect time to look at reducing your overall expenses. Often we spend money on goods and services because we can, but when you are funding a company, a lot of these expenses may no longer be priorities. Things like a housekeeper or yard maintenance crew. I personally cut back on expenses but was fortunate to have a working spouse whose income covered all the basics. What is your situation? Plan accordingly.
This is BIG! Especially if you are building a service-based business. You need to meet people and make connections. It is amazing how many free and low-cost resources are out there to help you if you know about them. The Small Business Association (Canada) and the US Small Business Administration offer free online classes and resources. There are many networking groups that are set up primarily to help each other grow your businesses, many of which can be searched on LinkedIn. Tell people what you are doing and when they say, you should reach out to such and such… Do it. Listen and learn. The more networked and connected you are, the better you will do. I have networked a lot and have so many amazing relationships with people who love what I do and refer people to me all the time. There is no better way to build your business than through the word of people who believe in you and your product or service.
When looking for a coach, you want to find someone who has not only started and succeeded with their own company, but helped other people do the same. The coach is going to be able to help you create a logical game plan for moving from dreams and desires into the reality of having a company. If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, the career coach can help you understand your true gifts and dreams and help you figure out how to transfer these skills into a venture you can make money at. The reason it’s good to have a life coach to help you along your path to entrepreneurship, is they will be able help you through the tough days and obstacles we all face when learning something new. What’s more, they can help address areas you may need to strengthen to be a good business owner.
Last, but not least, every entrepreneur needs to be able to sell themselves, their products or their services in one way or another. I don’t mean being the hardcore salesperson that pushes things on people. You want to be so genuinely thrilled with your business, products and services that it is easy to talk about them with others. If you don’t get out there and spread the word about yourself or your company. No one will do it for you, unless you have hired a sales representative to help you with this aspect of the business. One of my biggest weaknesses is mass marketing or selling myself online. It just doesn’t feel authentic to me. That said, I am good at what I do, so once I get on the phone with someone and get a chance to tell them what I do, it sells itself. And then those people refer more clients to me.
It is pretty magical when your business grows just because you love what you do and are so engaged in what you do that people are drawn to it, benefit from it and tell others about it. Just know that sales and/or marketing will be part of your job description in one way or another and have a plan on how you will manage it if it is not your forte.
Marla Williams is an intuitive life, career and business coach who has experienced tremendous success guiding individuals, professionals and entrepreneurs through a groundbreaking process to discover their purpose and capitalize on their distinctive gifts so they can begin to forge their own unique path in this world. She has a BA in Organizational Development, is a certified life coach, certified project manager and an experienced and certified professional in human resources (PHR) and was a key leader instrumental in helping grow a $12-million-dollar company into a $2.3-billion-dollar company. Connect with Marla through Noomii and her website.