After years of sitting in my cubicle dreaming of the entrepreneur life, I finally took the plunge into entrepreneurship. Eight years of the corporate life provided a great foundation for this new career; however, the learning curve for small business ownership was definitely steep! There are five critical actions that I took that made the transition easier and that I recommend to all budding entrepreneurs looking to make the switch from corporate life to entrepreneur life.
Here are my tips for those looking to make the leap into business ownership:
- Up Your Networking Game: One of the most important steps you can take before making the switch is to get out there and start connecting with others. Put yourself out there, attend events to meet new people, reach out to grab coffee with people you haven’t spoken to in awhile, connect and reconnect with new and old contacts online. Networking is a powerful way to learn more about the industry you want to pursue, to get advice on your business idea, and it is an effective way to get the word out about your new business!
- Find the Business Model That Fits Your Needs: Talk to other business owners and entrepreneurs so you have a solid understanding of the different types of businesses that you can pursue and the rewards and challenges of each of these models – service based businesses vs. product based businesses, brick and mortar vs. online, franchise vs. new concept – make sure you pick a business model that fits with your expertise, goals, and lifestyle.
- Do Your Research: Conduct research so you have a solid understanding of the industry you are interested in pursuing and the customer segment you are interested in selling to: what is the status of the industry, who are your competitors and where will your business model fit in the industry, what is the demand for your product and how will your target audience react to your product or service. Knowledge is power, especially when you are starting your own business!
- Solidify Your Financing: Make sure you have a clear understanding of the costs to start up your new business – how much will it cost to build and launch your business — AND how much will it cost to get it up and running as you begin to build sales. It is best to be conservative in your projections, particularly the first year, to finance and plan. Once you have a solid understanding of the costs and have vetted with other experts, explore and solidify financing options to make sure you are covered accordingly.
- Enjoy the Process – It is a scary but rewarding endeavor to go out on your own and take the leap into entrepreneurship! The benefits of the entrepreneur life include the ability to connect with others, make your own decisions, and become an expert in your industry and in your business. As you tackle the above, make sure that you are enjoying the process and eager to discover more. It is only the beginning of an exciting journey!
Check out “Financing for Startups: What You Need to Know” to learn more about getting your business off the ground with financing.