So You Want to Start Your Own Business

So, you want to start your own business? Thinking about quitting your job to become your own boss? Women are leaving Corporate America to start a business at ever-increasing rates, unlike our male counterparts. We don’t take such decisions lightly.

Things to Think About

Many of these questions you know and have asked yourself. Others you may not have considered, but your thoughtful answers to them could lead to your success or failure.

  1. Is the time right for you personally?
    What are your current financial and time responsibilities? Be realistic and don’t set yourself up to fail. Quitting a job may become even more tenuous with changes in health insurance laws on the horizon.
  2. How will you cover your expenses?
    In addition to obvious personal financial commitments like mortgages and bills, are you clear on both the budget and the time your business startup will require? Hint: It always takes longer than you think it will and that most everyone will tell you to expect.
  3. Will you have to change your lifestyle?
    One of my favorite quotes comes from Lori Greiner of ‘Shark Tank’ fame: “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours for someone else.” Being your own boss will take more time than your current job for longer than you think. Are you willing and able to make it a priority? You may have more flexibility but there also may be times when you have to make tough choices.
  4. Are you self-disciplined and self-motivated?
    Being your own boss is lonely. No two ways about it. It can be easy to become discouraged and want to just stay in bed with the covers over your head. Are you disciplined enough to keep going? To reach out for help? To not isolate yourself?
  5. Are you sure this venture will make you happy?
    Passion is a characteristic of most entrepreneurs. Not all business owners are passionate, however. Some people start a business out of necessity and their heart might not be in it. You’re starting with two strikes against you, if so. Another consideration is: are you sure THIS is your highest and best good? Do you know yourself, your skills and abilities, your personality, and what fulfills your needs?
  6. Is your support system strong?
    Is your family fully behind your plans? Are they ready to make sacrifices they may need to in order to support you in your endeavor? What about friends and advisors: have you consulted with other women business owners who have similarly embarked on such an endeavor? My favorite question to ask is: “What do you wish you had known before you began?” This is also where you need a circle of other women business owners to rely on, virtual or otherwise. (That is one of the reasons I started the Corporate Fugees Wise Women’s Circle as a private Facebook group, so women would have a ‘tribe’ to consult.)
  7. Have you validated your business idea and model?
    One of the very cool tools out there – fairly new – is called the Business Model Canvas. The Canvas is a one-page visual tool that allows you to structure your business idea and identify potential pitfalls before you invest significant funds and leave a job behind. It begins from the premise that you should test a minimum viable product with a few clearly defined customer profiles. Establishing and proving your model on paper will save you untold misery and missteps.
  8. Do you have the skills needed to be successful in your business?
    Ideas are great but execution is everything. I see lots of ‘visionaries’ get brilliant ideas only to abandon them midstream when implementation chores overtake them. If you are the ‘idea person,’ do you have plans to include a ‘worker-bee’ to execute? Here’s another place knowing yourself is critical, not only what makes you happy but what in kind of situation you will thrive.
  9. Have you written a business plan?
    No, I’m not talking about one of those 30-page deals you hear talked about. Got a secret for you: NO ONE uses those except for very unique funding situations. No, I’m talking about a simple but clear statement that looks at both your long term (your Mission and Vision) and short term (your Goals and Objectives) thoughts about your business. If you’d like a one-page business plan model, grab my 5-Step Practically Painless Business Plan Kit that we use in CEO School.
  10. Do you HAVE to leave your current job to get your business started?
    If you have the option to perform some of these steps before giving up your current source of income, it will alleviate much of the stress of not knowing whether starting a business will be a good fit for you. You’ll also have the opportunity to confirm and adjust your model and your plan, and improve your chances for success if you can begin your undertaking as a side gig.

Next Steps

There is much to think about before embarking on a life-changing journey like business ownership. One option you might consider would be instead to create a job for yourself as a consultant or a contractor. That is a perfectly acceptable option with fewer risks and investments. A number of people, especially those in service verticals, begin that way and once their cash flow is stable they can pivot their model to a business with salable assets.

The point is, you need to know yourself and what’s best for you. No one can decide for you. But I hope these questions will give you a starting place and a way to consider an exciting new endeavor.

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