Every now and then, some of our friends are bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. They tire of the corporate routine, the work hours and travel, and the thanklessness of working for someone else. Some of us are poked to offer advice and take sides. I take the side of employment if you are not properly planned. Having run a business for more than 18 years now parallel doing full time job as well, my opinion is that entrepreneurship is needlessly romanticized.
As the world becomes more digitized and access to the internet is something we all enjoy, more and more of us want to quit our day jobs to start our own businesses. The word “entrepreneur” is thrown around a lot these days, with many people seeing it as a means to enjoy a whole new level of professional, financial and personal freedom.
It is not difficult to see why, either. Having the ability do what you love, when you want and on your own terms is certainly attractive, especially when you could potentially build it into a sizable income. Don’t be too quick, however, to abandon your day job to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. Many of today’s best-known entrepreneurs consider doing so to be reckless and unnecessary.
Further, there is far more involved in transitioning from being an employee of others to becoming your own boss than you may realize. Changing your mindset from that of an employee to an entrepreneur is a major key to successfully bridging that divide. If you operate with the mindset of an employee — a person who is used to working for others and being paid by them — you will almost certainly fail. When you work for others, you do what they tell you to do. As an entrepreneur, you decide what the next best step is, and you execute that step in your day-to-day actions. The latter requires both a significant mindset shift and major discipline.
“Entrepreneurs” are rarely the modern-day maverick who suddenly decide one day to quit their jobs and pursue their dreams. After all, quitting a job to pursue business is risky, especially without having a safety net in place. In fact, the majority of people who decide to start an online business will fail within the first year.
First, the dividing line between work and life is erased the day you become a business owner. There is no shutting off. The long task list plays in the background whether you are at the cinema or in the shower. You wake up with the nightmare that a client deliverable has gone horribly wrong. Work consumes all your waking hours, and those who tell you to delegate, fail to see that delegation always needs a minimum of two people to work.
Second, that big canvass of office infrastructure that protects you, yes, that very thing you take for granted when you are at work, is sorely missed. There is no coffee machine in your tiny office and you have to stand by the kettle with the phone pressed to your ears, wondering how to measure tea and also make notes. When that printer gives up just the night before presentations have to be handed out to the classroom, you wonder how the ink got all over your fingers. You miss the tech support boy you did not even care to smile at. From replenishing stationery, to filing tax returns and fixing your HDMI cable, you have to know all, and be capable of seamlessly slipping into as many roles as required.
Third, if you think your boss is bad and you want to be your own boss by beginning a business, you have got it wrong buddy. At work you soon figure how to manage that one tyrant. At your own business, you have a bunch of clients, a set of vendors, and your own colleagues who will all make simultaneous and mostly unreasonable demands, and throw tantrums when you least expect it. Imagine having a tough deadline and your key resource calling in sick. At work you will escalate the issue, call for a replacement, vent at a colleague, draw on others you bailed out earlier, and begin thinking about how your boss will placate the client. If it is your own business, the only choice is to simply put your head down and do the task in abject loneliness, hissing under your breath about the unfairness of it all.
Fourth, the comfort of the pay cheque is something we just do not appreciate enough. Running a business is a real life exercise in managing that demon called cash. You will find that you won a large mandate, delivered it to great quality in time, and returned to your office in a celebratory mood, only to understand that your wait for being paid has only just begun. While your vendors will pester you for payments, your clients will offer a variety of creative excuses. Your employees’ enthusiasm about being a part of your team and feeling like owners, will all evaporate after a few months of delayed and deferred salaries. You will be too scared to take a bank loan or discount your invoices, worried about repaying with interest and building up debt.
Fifth, you will slowly find that the objectives and purposes of your business are modified dynamically as you go along. What you began doing won’t do well. You will tell yourself to keep the faith until the cash dries up at the bank. Then someone will come with something else you have the time and energy to work on. Or a client will ask you for customization that completely modifies your product. You will begin to build new dreams around every opportunity that comes your way, and soon enough you will be digging so many desperate little wells to realistically find any water. From time to time, helpful friends will assuage your doubts about the original lofty ideals of purpose and vision, by telling you that you are yet to transform into a blue-blooded business person. You will worry about your learning curve and grab the next mandate whatever it is.
Sixth, you will fall into the trap I call the Midas-touch syndrome. You will unexpectedly do well with something and begin to make money. You will love how your idea succeeded and how well it is performing. That confidence will make you think that what worked here will work everywhere else. You confidence about unlocking the key to success will lead you to put your money into what will later turn out to be harebrained ideas. But until the point of losing it all, you will have no doubt in your mind that you are on to becoming a serial entrepreneur who has the magic touch. Staying with the idea that worked and giving it all the focus is difficult when success comes early and easy.
Seventh, that tribe of private equity investors and venture capitalists will find you when you have posted two to three years of growth and profits. They will lure you with two concepts—the business plan and valuation. Even as you worry about the lofty assumptions that go into the business plan, in front of your eyes a growth path that turns your business into a million dollar empire will unfurl. The valuation matrix will make your heart swell in pride. You will love that range of valuation that is on the last slide of their presentation. The sign off will be heady and the money in the bank a huge relief. And then you will slowly kill yourself trying to achieve those stiff sales targets and the gory reality of financing in tranches. Even before you wake up in the morning the voice that asks “How much did you make today?” will begin to threaten your existence.
If you think you have a horrible job, take a vacation. Don’t jump into the madness of starting your own business without proper planning. Rather than taking the plunge, consider dipping your toe in first.
At the same time, in our rapidly changing economy, you would almost be doing yourself a disservice not to start a business. But, how can you do so while working full-time?
Take the “hybrid path” to entrepreneurship.
If you’re willing to sacrifice much of your free time now to reap the rewards later, you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Often called the “hybrid path” to entrepreneurship, many successful entrepreneurs started their business while still being employed full-time.
Research has shown that those who kept their day jobs while starting their businesses were 33 percent more likely to be successful than their risk-taking counterparts. Leveraging your full-time job in the early days of your business, allows you to build on firmer financial ground, increasing the likelihood that your enterprise will last and thrive through the initial stages. In addition, being entrepreneurial within your existing job allows you to build the necessary skills and traits you will need as you transition from your employee to entrepreneurial role.
Being impatient and chasing short-term gratification by quitting your job and going all-in, is risky and often ill-advised. Building slowly and steadily for the long-term is often the wisest course of action.
Today, it’s more important than ever to start a business.
Still, with all that being said, the time couldn’t be more right to start your own business and become self-sufficient. Unlike in years past, having a job no longer guarantees financial security.
Rapid developments in technology and the ever-increasing digitization of our world puts creative and business-building tools in the hands of everyone. Whether you have skills to market or a great idea for a product, you too could be the next Bill Gates or Elon Musk.
Even if you set your sights a little lower, consider what skills you have that others would gladly pay you for. Figure out what you can charge per client, and how many clients you would need to completely replace your income. Unless you’re already earning seven figures, you’ll soon realize that the numbers are not that daunting.
I was able to build my first business through affiliate marketing With affiliate marketing, you don’t have to create your own product. Rather, you earn a commission by promoting other people’s products.
Though the thought of running your own business, spending your days working on something you’re passionate about, and choosing how and where you spend your time is enticing, realize there are days if not years of sleepless nights, cash flow shortfalls and mindset hurdles between you and your destination.
By building your business while working full- or part-time, you will have the cash flow in the short term to get your enterprise off the ground. Once your business begins bringing in an income which rivals that of your day job, then and only then should you consider whether to pursue it full-time.
Building a business is not for the faint of heart. But, if you’re willing to work crazy hours, delay gratification and learn from your failures, you can build both a business and life like few others. After all, “Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.”
Courtesy : Economic Times & entrepreneur.com