Declare Your Independence: Working For Yourself
There’s a saying that it’s better to be hurt by the truth than to be comforted by a lie and this wisdom applies to striking out on your own and working for yourself. The truth is that starting your own business is a challenging road to take and the uncertainty alone is enough to discourage many from joining the ranks of entrepreneurs. It’s also true that starting your own company gives you flexibility and can be a rewarding opportunity to showcase your unique talents. For the right kind of individual, becoming an entrepreneur is a chance to write your own ticket and to accomplish personal and financial goals on your own terms. These are some truths that successful entrepreneurs have discovered and will help you decide whether it’s time to take the risk and begin working for yourself.
The basic business axiom about creating a need then filling it certainly applies to those looking to go into business for themselves. “I began by asking myself if there was a need for my product,” says entrepreneur Steve Laughlin. Laughlin, who created a line of various colored tile fillers to match with damaged floor tiles, queried everyone from homeowners to hardware store clerks. “I found out that customers had asked about it at hardware stores, but nothing like it existed,” he says. His next step was to research to determine if his area was a viable market and if people would be willing to pay for his tile filler. Initially, Laughlin demonstrated his product free of charge and after he established an impressed clientele he soon began getting referrals by word of mouth. It’s more likely that you will do research and find that there are competitors in your market area. Then you have to determine how to position your business against existing ones and create your own niche.
Construct a Business Plan
With your new enterprise you are operating largely from your heart, and it can be hard to consider the bottom line. To apply for business loans or other types of funding, a business plan is essential. Writing one takes time and no one will give you seed money for a plan that is not carefully thought out. Every business will have startup capital investment requirements, sales potential and profit margins. You have to be prepared to invest more than yourself in your new business and ask yourself how much of your own money you are willing to risk. With a small business, you’ll need a substantial amount of capital to launch and keep it going until you began making a profit. “I wrote 3,000 letters to different people and companies who I thought might be interested in funding my fashion business,” says Olga Kostrova, creator of Toronto-based OL Grandeur Fashion House. “So be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort.” Research which loans or other financial assistance options may be available to you. Examine the sales and net profit potential after factoring in expenses for facilities, staff and equipment.
Whether you are working toward personal, economic or retirement goals, every business decision you make should help you reach your goal. “My goal was to become profitable one calendar year after I began charging for my product,” relates Laughlin. Fortunately, his deadline was conservative, and his tiling filler business turned a profit after only nine months. Accountability is important when you are setting goals. If you are in business alone, it can be hard to hold yourself accountable when you fail to reach expectations. Consider expressing your specific goals to someone you respect who will be aggressive about holding you to your word. Those who succeed at being self-employed relish a challenge and love having the freedom to make their own decisions. They are individuals who put more value in being able to do things by themselves and for themselves.