Are you getting nowhere in corporate America? Do you have dreams of starting your own business? Whether this is a distant dream for you or you’ve already started down the path of self employment, I’d like to offer some brief advice that I’ve learned the hard way.
First, find your strongest talents. It is so easy to begin a business and try to be a jack of all trades. In order to clearly define your strongest talents, talk to people who know you well. Also think about the types of projects that get you excited to head off to work. Fine tune what you do well and focus on that aspect for your business. It might mean turning down work that doesn’t fit your talents, but you will be more believable to your clients and more successful in the end.
Second, have a plan! Take the time to complete a business plan. Every successful business owner will tell you that a plan is essential, yet the lack of a creative plan is why so many businesses fail. Without the clear directions that a plan defines, you may not be happy where you end up. Remember that the world is changing fast and you must also take time to continuously fine tune long term plans. Do your goals still make sense given the changes that may have occurred in the past six months? If you do not set aside regular time to evaluate, you risk getting tunnel vision and missing great opportunities.
Third, network, network, network. Join associations and attend conferences. You will meet people who have successfully accomplished what you are trying to accomplish. You will get fresh ideas and meet people who could help you down the road AND who you can also help. Just like with so many things, running a business is all about relationships. Build them, everywhere. I have found that sometimes the most valuable aspect of attending a conference is the people that I meet. We share ideas and experiences and it has helped tremendously.
I often hear that “small is the new big” these days. In other words, small companies are taking over business in many ways. Small companies can adapt quicker and maintain lower overhead. There are also so many ways to market a business now at low or no cost that small companies are able to compete with large business. Expensive print and TV advertising is no longer a must.
One thing I know for sure. Everyone I talk to who is successfully self-employed, would never go back into the corporate world. That says a lot. Good luck!