You have the BOSS FROM HELL, we get it; the one that undervalues you, constantly belittles you, overworks you and your chances of promotion are zilch. You spend your days dealing with angry customers, taking the blame for company failures that are outside your control. You waste hours every day battling public transport to get to work and back. You’re so exhausted from overwork when you get home you resort to collapsing on the sofa and eating a takeaway. The New Year Resolutions you set fell apart in the first week of January and you’re now at rock bottom. You can’t remember when you last had the energy to call your Mum, go for a walk or try and eat healthily. The only way you can think of getting your life back on track is quitting your job and starting a business.
Whoa! Let’s just stop there a minute. We’ve all been in this scenario. Some jobs just suck and drain the life out of you. It doesn’t mean the answer is starting a business!
Starting a business is rather like embarking on a long journey. You’ll start off all excited and raring to go…
There’ll be fear at leaving your comfort zone and setting out doing something new. “What will people think when I tell them what I’m doing?” “Will I sound stupid?” “My friends and family are really negative, should I just get another job?” “What am I going to do for money whilst the business gets going?” All perfectly valid fears and trust me everyone feels this way.
On this journey, you’ll be facing new challenges and you’ll need new skills. Some of these skills could be things that come naturally to you. For example, I’m happy to tinker around with websites but I’m not so keen on accounts. It’s a case of thinking about the skills your new business needs and how you’re going to acquire them. In the early days, until your business starts to grow and make money, you may have to do everything yourself. That’s just how it goes, but as soon as you can afford it, buy in services in the areas you struggle at. This will free up time to work on the important parts of your business, the money making parts.
With a new business, you can quickly become overwhelmed and feel a bit lost. A few weeks in and the excitement of setting up your yoga studio has worn off. You have a whole list of things you need to do urgently! Where do you start? What do you prioritise? You could be hiring staff, ordering equipment for the studio, checking you meet fire regulations, building a website, registering for VAT… the list will feel endless. With all this going on – when do you sleep?
There are two types of people who start a business. First up are those who come up with an idea and launch straight in. This can work. It’s never advisable but you wouldn’t be the first (or last). If you have tremendous amounts of energy and don’t mind having to firefight, redo things when they don’t work out the first time, this could be for you. Start small and have a go. Just be ready for that huge list of urgent stuff that needs doing… the things you hadn’t thought about…
The second type of person is the one who plans, and plans, and plans. You have to be careful here and make sure you don’t become the person who spends so much time planning they never actually start a business. Oh yes, these people exist. Years ago I worked in Manchester for an engineering company. Every morning I would start the day having coffee with a colleague and discussing how we were going to escape our jobs. Years later, my colleague is still there. Lots of plans made but he never got out of the planning stage. Personally, I think its really important to plan and have a step by step approach to starting your business, but just make sure you don’t get stuck.
It can be a lonely and anxious journey starting your own business. There will be times when you miss the banal chat in your former job. A day when everything’s gone wrong and you actually start to think that your former boss wasn’t so bad.
You can feel lonely even if your new business is in the service industry and you spend all day talking to customers. It’s time like this that you need a support structure. Friends and family won’t hack it. Only people who’ve been there, run their own business, that will understand what you’re going through. Ever wondered why there are so many networking events for businesses? It’s not just about marketing. It’s the relief of being able to talk to people who have the same fears and challenges to deal with. Whether your support comes from coaching, networking or business friends – find one. You’re going to need it!
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not all doom and gloom. There are perfect highs when something goes well.
Somehow it’s just better when it’s your business and you have a great day. Winning a contract is sweeter. Getting praise from a customer is more meaningful. Completing your own creative work, something you have total responsibility for is more fulfilling. Oh, and being told by your staff that you’re a great boss is the icing on the cake!