“I dream about operating my own business, but I don’t have the confidence and courage to step out and do it. Other than platitudes, what can readers suggest from their personal experience about how to overcome the hesitation in order to get out there and do it to see if it will work?”
Irene Orkin, Inmyhands.ca:
“Tired of being downsized or made redundant, I too dreamed of having my own business. Here’s some advice that worked for me:
- Get yourself a business mentor. Check out your local chamber of commerce for some successful entrepreneurs. Reach out and connect. Many successful entrepreneurs are only too happy to spend some time helping you get started.
- Check out your local ‘Y.’ Many of them offer a business development course for minimal cost to help you formulate your dream and put it on paper. They help you with market research, startup costs and creating a business plan. The course is short, about eight weeks, and costs about $160. I was already running a business, but taking their course helped ensure a greater level of success for it.”
Allan McMordie, Chimera Systems Inc.:
“First, have a spouse who is employed so that you are not totally relying on your income. That helps through lean times.
Second, associate yourself with others who will make money if you work. If you are a consultant, get connected with a reputable agency. They will be motivated to find you work if they can make some money also.
Lastly, spend some time in a large employee cafeteria or food fair seating area and listen to all the employed people complain about their jobs, their bosses and their fellow workers. Relish the fact that you don’t have to worry about that (crap) anymore.”
Ashish Mehta, Shresth Handicrafts, New Delhi, India:
“Do a detailed cost-benefit analysis. Do some business-situation analysis, no matter how raw. This analysis will give you a picture of what you need to put at stake / sacrifice to get your dream going. Once you reach this point, do some soul searching as to whether you are ready to pay the price the venture requires of you, both in monetary and emotional terms.
This is more than just a starting step. It also helps you motivate yourself and helps you grow in the face of day-to-day adversities in your venture. It gives you faith in your venture and helps you stand the test of time.”
Dave Hanley, Insurance Systems Inc.:
“Lots of people can see the vision of running a business, being their own boss and being hugely successful. But very few can put together the critical steps in order to make that vision a reality.
There are logical steps to execute any plan, and it is important that anyone who has a vision can identify these steps, but more importantly, put them into action. The issue that confronts many entrepreneurial ‘free spirits’ is that they are purely visionaries and too disorganized (or busy!) to follow a logical plan of execution.
Many entrepreneurs bring someone under their wing to carry out the execution side of the venture. This person does not have to be someone with 20 years of experience and endless credentials; often the best person for the job is, as Gordon Gekko said in the movie Wall Street, ‘someone who is poor, smart and hungry.’ These people are often young, driven by success, smart enough to make decisions on their own and willing to help the entrepreneur carry out their vision — whatever it may take.”
Joshua Kerbel, Prescott Thackery Merchant Group Ltd.:
“Stop thinking about the downside. You can keep dreaming or you can actually just do it. Any other advice is exactly what you say it is, a platitude.”
Matthew Davis, CEO & co-founder, TrainingFolks Inc.:
“One of the most common fears about starting your own business is the lack of income. There are a number of ways to get money to do so; however, depending on what your dream is, you may consider this option as a safe way to get started, versus some of the higher-risk ones.
Start by investing today in your business. Pay your business first from your current monthly income, then change your personal lifestyle expenses so you start investing month by month. For example, if you take home $2,000 a month and live on all of it, instead you should pay your business $200. Transfer that amount to a different account that will be used for your business, then live on the remaining $1,800. This will do two things for you: 1) you’ll follow the theory of paying yourself first; 2) you’ll have to tighten your expenses. One of the most important things to do as a startup is to keep costs low.
In time, your money will grow into your business and so will your skills of learning to manage and act like a business owner. Granted, it’s not enough to just finance a business, you need to run your business by planning, strategizing and looking for a good client where you can service their needs. This will build your sales confidence as you build your client list. Invest the extra time after hours upfront while you still have your current income. This will tell you when you are ready to go for it.
If your business idea is such that you can’t follow this approach, consider finding a business partner and have both of you invest. One day maybe one of you can focus 100% full time, while the other works 25% of the time and holds down a 9 – 5 job. This second approach will increase the cash flow of the business sooner, not to mention give you a person who you can celebrate with when you close that huge deal — or have to fix a problem.”
Tony Sabherwal, Magic Oven-Handcrafted Foods To Go:
“The courage you are seeking is really your willingness to part with what you have. When we started our small business eight years ago, my wife and I sat down and figured that if we lost everything in our business venture it would take four years to get it all back.
For the price of four years of comfortable living working for someone else, we decided to go out on our own. Eight years later, we have 16 times more employees, 16 times more sales, three times the salary and 10 times the net worth. We have also been featured in pretty much every local newspaper and magazine for our creativity and ingenuity.
Courage will come if your immediate family is willing to risk their ‘mediocre and secure’ lifestyle. You have little to lose and a lot to gain. Do it.”
Heidi Ehlers, BLACK BAG creative recruitment inc.:
“Have an ironclad goal in mind that is not open to interpretation or subjectivity. In order to be a goal, it must be quantifiable and have a date attached. Then write a plan, which is the series of steps you must take to achieve that goal, and when you will take those steps.
Your goal should be broken into increments. In the first three months, I will; in the first six months, I will; in the first year, I will; in the first 3 years, I will; in the first 10 years, I will.
Run the numbers to see if you can reach your goals. The fear comes from the uncertainty; the courage comes from the numbers, and the numbers don’t lie. Once you know what you’re aiming for, you’re 75% of the way to achieving it. Good luck.”
For her answer, Heidi Ehlers will receive a copy of The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work by Richard Leider.
Watch for another Peer-to-Peer Poll in the next PROFIT-Xtra.