Take this job and shove it! I will just open my own business and be my own boss. How many times have you thought this…those of you that aren’t working for yourself now that is? I can tell you in my 17 years in business, I have thought this many times and have actually done it once. I did it for three years in fact. My husband and I opened our own marketing strategy consulting business. In the words of Charles Dickens “it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.”
Owning your own consultancy can be very rewording. Where else can you have a direct impact to a company’s bottom line? In those three years, my husband and I did some really great work and the rest solid work. I really enjoyed working on my own, but there were some really bad downsides that forced me back into the workforce.
When people ask me to tell me what they need to do to own their own business, I purposely focus on the hard stuff. I want them to know that starting your own business can be really rough in addition to rewarding. You need to be prepared so that you don’t fail. So here is some of what I tell them…some you have probably seem before and some you probably haven’t.
- Get ready to work harder than you ever did as an employee—having your own business is 24×7.
- Have six months of salary saved—because you probably won’t make enough to support yourself, at least initially.
- That’s why I say don’t quit your day job—if it is possible to start part time so that you can start to build your client base before you go out on your own completely, you should do it.
- Get your money up front, at least half of it anyway—think of it like when you hire a contractor to work on your house. They require at least half up front and there is a reason for that…people don’t pay (even the best intentioned people).
- Get Quickbooks (or something like it)—let’s face it, you’re not an accountant or a bookkeeper. Having Quickbooks will help you keep track of your accounts. And, once you start your accounting system, keep it up. I can’t tell you how many long nights I have spent trying to recreate billings and deposits so that I can file my taxes.
- Speaking of taxes—pay them at least quarterly, I paid them monthly. You don’t want a really nasty surprise at the end of the year, especially if you are a sole proprietorship.
- Get ready to sell, sell, sell—most of your beginning activities will be selling your services. If you aren’t comfortable with hearing “no” and you can’t afford a sales person, being on your own isn’t right for you.
- Get a partner—it is much easier to make it if there is more than one of you doing the work (and selling your services).
- Get certified—if you are a minority-owned business, you should spend the resources to get yourself documented as such. You never know when that will come in handy.
- Get the appropriate insurance—if you are in the consulting business and/or if you have an office, you will need general liability insurance at some point. And, when you hire your first employee, you will likely need workers’ compensation coverage.
So are you ready to tell your boss to take this job and shove it? Or, are you doomed to cubicle nation, at least for now?