“I knew that if I failed I wouldn‘t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” Jeff Bezos
With an increasing number of young professionals leaving their current employer in search of work that is more satisfying, perhaps you’ve considered starting your own thing. In our experience, doing so is perfect for some but not for most. If you’re contemplating becoming your own boss, here are some thoughts that you may find helpful:
- Know what floats your boat and go do that. But first, work at it while on your present job until you are ready to commit. The chic term for this at the moment is “side hustle.” Lay the foundation before you pull the plug.
- Expect to work very hard to be your own boss. As one entrepreneur we know says, “Expect to work 100 hours a week in order to avoid a 9 – 5 job.”
- Find a substitute for the loss of social contact. While deep introverts may not miss the interaction with colleagues, many of us will. Spending a great deal of time alone while you get the flywheel moving with customers and activity will take a while, so be prepared for and create a plan to overcome the isolation. Continue to find time for friends. Perhaps form or join a group of entrepreneurs who meet to discuss ideas, challenges, and solutions.
- Build a strong support network. Not unrelated to the above, you can’t do it all, and you need to focus on those (usually the most difficult) activities that will actually get your business off the ground and give it the greatest chance to succeed. Delegate, outsource, rent, or buy everything else. The owner of your nearest UPS store likely needs to become a good friend!
- Doing good things can happen only if the numbers work. A real estate entrepreneur we know takes great pride, rightfully so, in providing decent, safe, clean, affordable housing. But she’s the first to say that this is possible only because the business sustains itself.
- Think about the present and future alpha. Namely, how you will be different, better, and more compelling than your competition. What will be your alpha – your differentiators? Stay put at your present job until you find it.
- Nice people do win – when they know what they are doing. The greatest tool to mitigate risk is superior knowledge. Identify and learn the skills needed to succeed. For example, you may need to take certain courses, get certain licenses, or master certain software such as QuickBooks. Shore up your skillset.
- If you’ve decided to make the leap, sooner rather than later go ahead and leap. As Michael Dell says, “Don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity, that you miss the right opportunity.” There will likely never be the perfect moment to leap, so if you feel ready, go for it.
So, is it time to be your own boss? To that, we can only provide our favorite, “Aristotelian response that we use to answer almost any question: it depends! But for some of you, it is the right move. And to you we say that if you need a mantra to sustain you when times get tough (and they will!), or lonely, here’s one: “If you don’t build your own dreams someone will hire you to build theirs.” (Tony Gaskins said this, and he’s a motivational speaker who has appeared on Oprah, so he must know). Good luck!