Thinking of quitting your job to chase your dreams of entrepreneurship? It’s often a quandary for many young professionals who hold such aspirations. Weighing the pros and cons of self-employment seems an endless process and letting go of that “guaranteed” salary is a tough decision for many aspiring entrepreneurs.
In fact, it’s most likely one of the biggest decisions you will ever make!
Just four weeks ago after recently turning 28, I made that very decision to launch my own digital marketing consultancy: OPTIM-EYEZ. Now I want to help others do the same.
The time has to be right for you and you need to be more than 80 percent confident it will work.
Why not less than 80 percent?
You need self-belief, but also a fine balance between this and pragmatic perception.
Why not 100 percent?
Well, that is not pragmatic. It’s pretty unrealistic. If you are 100 percent sure of success, this life will 100 percent not suit you.
With such a mindset, you are not suitably prepared for rejection, setbacks and failure. This is nothing less than dangerous when venturing into life as an entrepreneur.
Prepare for the worst, drive yourself to be the best.
Below are my top seven most important lessons derived from my entrepreneurial journey so far:
Time is precious for aspiring entrepreneurs
In the past, I never really gave time a second thought because I had plenty of it. Now, those days are long gone and I savor every spare second I manage to find!
Believe me when I say you must make the most of your time. Before starting out, plan well ahead and try to get everything in place before actually making the leap. You will be glad you took these steps later on.
Ensure you own a slick, content-filled website which is exhaustively tested, user-friendly and optimized. My website still isn’t live but I invested extensive time into generating leads through my social media channels. That said, I still wish I had a website built and ready to go right now…
Get your house in order before you leave employment: structure your communication channels and collateral. Think about your business phone number, diverts, voicemail, email signature, business cards, document templates and trademarks. The list really is endless!
Next, you have accountancy tasks to organize such as your business bank account, a reliable accountant, software, business insurances (yes, multiple!) and many other time-heavy tasks like networking and relationship building, all before you’ve even started operating.
Ensure you have meticulously planned all of the above before handing in your notice, no matter how tired you are after finishing “normal” work each day. You simply won’t get the time to do so when you’re out on your own!
Relationships are critical
I cannot emphasize this enough. Surround yourself with those who inspire you, those who can bring you on and invest time in you as mentors.
These people are the gatekeepers to another world. A world of success and compounded relationships you could never imagine as reality… until it happens.
If you build relations instead of hard selling your product or service, you won’t ever need a salesman!
I have always been a people person, which has been a key factor in my success. I love to learn and engage. I’m never afraid to ask questions, either.
Always ask questions
“A person’s intelligence can be measured by the questions they ask, not by the statements they make.”
Don’t try to be the brightest spark in the room if you’re not. Learn from those who hold greater knowledge to enhance your own abilities.
Don’t get blinded by the dream
It is damn hard work to “make it.” We often get drip-fed glamorous stories of entrepreneur lifestyles by the media, filled to the brim with white sandy beaches, fast cars and flash houses.
Do you think these people got to where they are by chance? Ninety five percent of the time, no they didn’t.
Unless you inherited millions, be prepared to graft. If the thought of working extremely hard for many years makes you shudder (as your social life diminishes before your eyes), this life really isn’t for you!
Love what you do
Are you hungry for a quick buck? If you have dollar signs in your eyeballs but don’t have a passion for your business, is it worth it? Are you really going to provide the best service for your customers?
In the past, I’ve taken on huge jobs which I later regretted because I just didn’t have the time or energy to carry them out in a 100 percent effective manner. This leads to more fatigue and unnecessary stress. Be true to yourself (and others) at all times.
Prepare for pitfalls
Life as an entrepreneur isn’t always peachy. Yes, you can become very successful, but for every entrepreneur’s success, you can pretty much guarantee at least one, two or 20 failures before they hit the jackpot!
When bad times approach, roll with it. Stay strong and believe in yourself. You will get through and you will turn things around if you really want to. Perseverance is a necessary trait.
Spend time with loved ones
Busy 24/7? For the first 12 months you may well be (and this is excusable). But keep this up into year two onward and you’ll not only unsettle those around you, but exhaust yourself to the point where you simply can’t be productive. Make time for your loved ones and stick to it.