Oh, the glory! Start your own company and achieve great fame and fortune!
OK, maybe not. Run your own business and destroy your life savings.
How do you decide?
Last week I talked about the decision of staying or leaving your current job, but for most people what you might be jumping to is something similar to what you’re currently doing – another job working for someone else.
In the current economy, often, people are struggling with finding another job to jump to. So a great many are setting off on their own course, to run their own business. I’ve done this twice, actually, since 2009. The first time was totally unsuccessful, and the second … well, it seems to be working but I haven’t yet achieved all my goals. But the progress is measurable and growing steadily. I’m on course to break even by the end of this year.
There’s some great value you’ll get by running your own business:
- You’ll have a large degree of freedom.
- Your future is directly connected to the actions YOU take – or don’t take.
- You’ll learn a TON of stuff. Much may be associated with pain and anxiety, but you’ll be learning every day.
There’s also the downsides:
- You don’t have others to blame your problems on. It can be a lonely journey, and it takes some maturity, optimism and faith to weather the ups and downs.
- Many times you’re linking your success to an idea or process that comes from others. They want you to see the opportunities this represents, but there’s always risk and costs as well. Those are often the difference between a successful business and running your entire life savings into the ground. Sadly, there are quite a few business models out there for which, I believe, very few are ever able to make a living.
- If you don’t take the initiative to do everything required – sales, inventory management, delivery, bill collection, marketing – you’re not going to succeed. Either you’re doing this yourself, or you’re paying someone and managing them.
Whether you’re starting out with your own idea, taking over someone else’s business, buying into a franchise, becoming a contractor, or entering into a direct marketing partnership, you need to answer these questions:
- Is there a ready market of people wanting to buy?
- How long will it take for me to acquire the skills that I’ll need to do everything required?
- Is it something that I want to dedicate myself to full time?
- Do I have enough resources to get to when it’s paying me income?
Each of these are incredibly deep, serious questions, and you can’t necessarily take the answers that others give you. For example, there’s a particular home-based business that’s growing rapidly right now, and I’ve met 6 people over the last year who have bought into it. From what I can see, only one of them is succeeding at it, while each of the others appears to be making minimal income. You can tell this by the fact that they’ve had to develop other sources of income, and they’re not really marketing this business very actively.
So they’re IN that business, in theory, but in fact they haven’t dedicated themselves 100% to making it successful. Which means they probably won’t be.
The company they’ve bought into seems to be well run, but it also is over-extending its promise to these independent agents. They make it look too easy. They claim that the market is growing faster than it probably is. They stress that there’s minimal investment of money, while downplaying that success will be built on working hard for 40+ hours a week.
When you’re buying into someone else’s idea and business model, you have to do your own homework. And you have to decide FOR YOURSELF that it’s something you want to dedicate your life to for many years – because that’s what it will take.
In return, you’ll learn thousands of things you never imagined, you’ll develop wonderful new relationships, and you may just be able to find that new, invigorating career. Even if you don’t make your venture fly, it can help you to be a much more valuable employee.