Many people want to go into business. They have certain beliefs and many times delusions about what running a successful business is all about. Many want to escape what they perceive to be the restrictions in employment i.e. freedom on how to spend time and belief that going into business will break through the glass ceiling on how much income they can earn. In today’s article I am addressing that person who is employed and is thinking about going into business as well as that person who may have just moved into business and is starting out. This just a taste of what I have personally learned and I hope this can be the beginning of helping you avoid some of the every expensive mistakes that many have had to go through.
The networks you had whilst employed are not necessarily going to carry forward into your business. When I left employment, I was working for a prestigious bank. I assumed that the clients I had then would cross over with me into my small business. This was not the case. The clients associated with me because of the brand that was behind me i.e. the bank. When I no longer had that brand, they simply could not be bothered. I have met many people about to make this mistake. Do not assume because you are good at your current job that clients will jump into your boat. Many clients are loyal to the brand of your employer. You have to be prepared to build an entire new network and to prove yourself all over again under a new name. Even your close family and friends may very well not become your clients so don’t depend on that. Maybe before you hand over your resignation, see if your proposition is strong enough to attract one or two independent clients who are not associating with you because of the company you work for.
You will be kicked out of your comfort zone. The lifestyle you had when employed, you will not be able to immediately keep sustaining in business. Be ready not to be able to eat out and hang out with your friends that much. The temptation is to continue living like you were so that others can know that things are going well for you. Many times people spend money setting up business to accommodate the image and comforts they had whilst employed. They get an office in the right location with a receptionist, messenger etc. and establish an entertainment budget even before the first client walks in. They then kid themselves that the money will come. Six months later when reality hits, they have to let go of the office and support staff they surrounded themselves with. When you are starting out, focus only the necessary things needed to run that business. Let all other things only be dictated by actual growth of the business. You may not even need an office or full time staff to begin with. Be prepared to be the messenger, filing clerk, sales and marketing all at once. You will not have that free time you dreamed about. A day will come when you have Kes 200 in your bank account and you still got to find the will power to move on. This process is about character building and if you are not ready for your character to be challenged, reshaped and transformed through trials then business is not for you. The character that is created as you are shoved out of your comfort zone is what is actually needed to support the growth of your organization as you build it. Do not look at someone who has been in business and start comparing yourself or live the life they are living. The have walked a journey of 1000 miles to get there and remember you are only on the first mile. You are not an entrepreneur simply because you started a business but you need to be ready to commit to the process of becoming an entrepreneur.
You will fail if it’s only about the money. Two people can start a butchery in the same location. One thrives the other doesn’t. Why? Because of the motive behind the business. One is in it for money and the other because he actually likes what he does and enjoys serving people. He will naturally spend more time learning about it and put up proper structures as well that tend to make the business more efficient. As a result of his motive, his business is more successful. Many people follow the money or think they should start business because of the money. When the money doesn’t turn up as fast as they expected they give up. Being passionate and purposeful about what you are doing gives you the “staying power” required to get through the hard times. Do not start a business only because you think it will make money. Do not start a business because someone else is doing it successfully. They may have a unique ability in them that is not in you so find out what yours is.
Entrepreneurship at the end of the day is a fantastic journey. Just like school, you only learn once you are in it. There is no guarantee that can be provided to you from the sidelines. Commit to the learning process and remain aware that not everything you are thinking or planning may come to pass. The biggest question I think people need to ask is “Am I ready to change?”
Waceke runs a program on personal financial management. Find her on email@example.com|