Have you ever thought about running your own business? If you have, you're not alone; 99.7% of businesses in the United States are small businesses. Still, starting your own business is no small feat.
When you're planning on starting a business, you need to have a business plan, secure the right talent to fill any gaps you have, have a proper space to work, and of course, money. You may have heard that running a business is nearly impossible, but rest assured, there's hope!
First things first, let's make sure you're the right candidate for running a small business.
Click "READ MORE" to unveil the 19 ideas and tips that will help you become the next top entrepreneur!
Quick Guide: Jump to the Section You Want to Read
8 Warnings Not to Start Your Own Business (Yet)
However, if you aren’t ready for it, the challenges that come with striking out on your own could sink your new business before it’s had a chance to get off the ground. With 20% of small businesses failing in their first year, it’s crucial that you are prepared for the blood, sweat and tears involved before you take the leap.
But don’t be discouraged; for many the hard work is worth it when you consider the freedom over your own time and finances. Here are 8 signs that you might not be ready for it (yet).
1. You Have No Relevant Work Experience
- Take a part-time job in your target industry. For example, if you want to open a café and have never worked in the catering industry before, it would make sense to try working in one first. This will help you assess whether you like the industry before taking the leap.
- Get some new qualifications. If you’re making a big career change, gaining new qualifications or re-training will help to support your new business.
- Do your research. One of the best ways to find out what a new industry is like and what you can expect from your new role is to talk to people who already work in that area.
2. You Fear Failure (Too Much)
As mentioned above, a large proportion of businesses fail within a year, so it’s a rational worry — but it’s something that you’ll have to deal with. The successful entrepreneur knows how to manage those fears, and understands that failure can just be another step on the road to success.
3. You Aren’t 100% Sold Out to Your Idea
Ask yourself the following questions to make sure your heart is really in it:
- Am I willing to make sacrifices? You’ll have to sacrifice time, money and financial security to get your business off the ground.
- Am I willing to persevere through tough times? If you think you might give in as soon as the going gets tough, you’re not ready yet.
- Am I willing to make this business my number one priority? If you want your business to succeed, it has to come ahead of everything else.
4. Misjudging the Criticality of Networking
If you’re not willing to get out there and present your company to the world, you probably aren’t ready to start your own business. However, networking is a skill that can be learned like any other, so begin practicing in your current role until you feel confident enough to network for yourself.
5. You Tend to Shy Away From Responsibility
Research by the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that people who blame others for their blunders learn less, lose status, and perform worse compared to those who are prepared to admit they messed up. As the leader of your business, you need to be prepared to take full responsibility for your failures as well as your successes.
6. You Struggle to Embrace Change
As well as doing your main role, you’ll have to quickly learn to do every other role that a company needs as well, such as admin, accounting, marketing, and finances. You need to be willing to embrace a lot of new skills in a short space of time, or your business will likely falter.
7. You Often Delay Doing the Hard Work
When you work 9 to 5, all you have to do is your contracted hours, but when you’re your own boss you will have to work more because you are the only person you can rely on. You can’t coast along and expect someone else to pick up the slack — you need to maximize your productivity. If the thought of working long hours on your project fills you with excitement, then you’re ready to start your business. If it fills you with dread and boredom, then it’s too soon.
You might think that automation will let you skate by with minimal effort — indeed, aspiring entrepreneurs often pick up established Oberlo stores, hoping that dropshipping will handle all the work, only to realize that the key element is great marketing. You get out what you put in, and you need to be ready to give everything.
8. You Have Trouble Managing Stress
According to the Gallup Wellbeing Index, 45% of entrepreneurs report feeling stressed, while another study by Bank of America found that running a small business is even more stressful than parenting. It’s crucial that you have some good strategies in place for dealing with stress before you start your own business, as there are bound to be some difficult times along the way.
If you identify with any of the above 8 warning signs, it’s probably too soon to start your own business. Give yourself another year or so to gain more experience, build your network, learn about the responsibilities of becoming an entrepreneur, and refine your business plan. Taking a step back to prepare more now will only make your business more likely to succeed once you’re sure you’re ready to launch.
How to Run a Business in 6 Simple Steps
Now, it's time to learn the basics of starting your own business. While starting and running a business is a complicated process, it can be distilled into 6 simple steps that will help you get started on the right foot, and stay there.
For a few additional resources, check out this article here.
1. Fully Research Your Business & Industry
Find some trusted friends or family members and run your idea by them, but don’t stop there since your close circle may just tell you what you want to here. See if you can't put a small focus group together, preferably strangers. While a focus group can't fully represent how your idea will do in the wild, it will at least give you an idea of how it could be received by the public.
You'll also want to research the industry and market to see if other ideas like yours have been attempted in the past. Look for what is/isn’t working, typical profit margins, and other commonalities you run across. Also, see if the market looks like it's trending in the right direction for your idea. For example, you wouldn't want to launch a product or service in the housing industry during the real estate crash of 2008/2009.
2. Draft a Solid Business Plan
You can handle this in one of a few ways:
- Draft your own simple plan: A simple plan on a sheet of paper can be sufficient, depending on the type and scope of your business. Having anything down on paper is better than nothing, especially in the early stages. Obviously this isn't ideal if you're planning on investing a lot of money, hiring others, etc.
- Draft a full-length business plan: Creating your own full-length business plan is a lot of work. Not only this, it varies a lot by industry. What goes into creating a mobile app business plan versus a coffee shop business plan will be drastically different.
- Hire a Business Plan Writer: This is the most ideal of the three choices, but it can be costly. Depending on the scope of your business, you could be spending anywhere from several hundred to several thousand on a proper plan. Again, this will act as the foundation for your business and could play an instrumental role in attracting investors, so spending on one isn't the worst idea.
3. Determine Funding Required to Start & Keep Things Running
If you have a professionally-drafted business plan, you should have a very clear idea of how much money you'll need both in the short and long term. If not, do some additional market research and see if you can find stats on how much other startups in your industry needed, how much their expenses were each month, and so on. Check out this article if you are looking for some startup statistics.
If you don't want to bootstrap it, consider crowdfunding or hunting for individual investors in your area. It's important to remember that most crowdfunding sites will take a percentage of your funding or require a fee. This added overhead can be worthwhile if you manage to raise enough, but it's still worth noting. Family and friends are another source of fundraising, but that can get tricky, especially if things don’t work out.
4. Register Your Business Properly
It's also a good idea to buy a web domain for your business. Even if you don't plan on running an online store or site, owning the domain is great for planning ahead. Even local businesses should have a website, and having your domain taken by someone else first can be a costly process, as you'll either need a different domain or you'll have to buy it from them.
5. Promote & Build Hype
You also want to make sure you have your unique selling proposition (USP) ironed out. This is essentially what makes your business different from the competition. Think of it as your elevator pitch.
It's also a good idea to make sure you start building an email list from day one. This is where a website can be incredibly useful, as it gives you a place to direct people where they can then subscribe to your newsletter. Having access to email addresses gives you a great outlet for sending updates on products/services, discounts, and so on.
Also, referral software can help bring in leads and promote your new business via word of mouth.
6. Start a “Side Hustle” While Keeping Your Day Job
5 Standout “Start Your Own Business” Ideas
1. Start a Digital Marketing Consultancy
As the name implies, digital marketing is all digital (online). Being such, many digital marketing firms are completely virtual, have no office space at all, and all workers are remote. This makes digital marketing a great candidate for those of you interested in running a business with a low overhead cost. There is of course the knowledge barrier, as a lot of knowledge and skill sets go into being a successful marketer. Fortunately, there are a number of great resources available online where you can learn the basics and grow your skills.
Once you have a solid foundation of knowledge and experience, you can start off as a contractor or freelancer. Eventually, when you have the proper client roster, you can go the agency route and start bringing in outside talent if you wish.
2. Become a Top Notch Virtual Assistant
If you're knowledgeable on most major organizational programs and tools like the Microsoft and Google suite of office software, becoming a virtual assistant will have virtually no overhead cost for you to begin. As a virtual assistant you'll help execs stay organized, much like an in-office assistant, but using online communications and planners.
To start, look for jobs on Indeed, Upwork, or other freelance sites. You'll likely have to start small, but can soon find yourself working for some very important people, making great money.
3. Crank Up a Lawn Care Company
Educate yourself on gardening and lawn care basics, and put out an ad. Even better, start a Facebook page and help some friends or family members for free. This will get you some nice reviews. From there, start out small and help those in your immediate area for a low price. As time goes on you can look into buying more equipment like zero turn mowers and even bring on additional hands to work for you.
Ideally your company can grow to a point where you aren't even mowing lawns or tending to landscaping projects, but only manage the workers and finances.
4. FaceBook Ad Management
Once you know how to manage FaceBook ads, turn to the usual suspects - Indeed, Upwork, FlexJobs, etc - and look for smaller clients. This will give you a better chance of landing them, as the bigger clients will be looking for seasoned ad experts.
After you've gotten sufficient experience, you can look into creating a full-blown brand for yourself and starting an online ad agency. Just like the digital marketing agency, you can hire others with complementary skills and scale your business.
5. Pet Sitting/Walking Company
The great thing about starting a pet sitting/walking company is that there's virtually no cost upfront. If you want, run an ad. Otherwise, start a Facebook page and ask your friends if any of them need their pet watched? Once you've accrued some reviews, consider putting an ad out.
If your pet sitting company is successful enough you can eventually look into renting or buying a space dedicated to your business, and hiring enough hands to staff it.
Look Before You Leap: Final Words of Wisdom
Life as a business owner is no walk in the park. There are countless struggles, incredibly difficult days, and uncertainty is certain in the beginning. Even still, there are countless perks, and it's a lifestyle unlike any other. As you grow your business, think about protecting your online search history, finances, and identity with a VPN which hides your IP address and encrypts your network data so no one can see what you’re doing. One click, and you’re protected.
Starting your life as a business owner may be intimidating now, but the only way you'll find out if you're cut out for it is if you go for it. If there is only one piece of advice you remember from this article, start your business as a side hustle while you keep your day job. That way you can ramp up things and try it out before you make the leap.
One year from now, you could be looking back at the person you are right now, and be amazed at how far you've come.
No matter the type of business you run, leadership is always essential to success. To get started on the right path to leadership success, contact me for a free consultation so we can lay out your personal journey, one step at a time.