Yvonne McLean, an executive coach and leadership development consultant talks to Gill South about taking the plunge.
There's a wise saying: "Choose to do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Many of us long to leave the world of employment behind and go into business for ourselves. As someone who has done precisely that, I cannot recommend it highly enough. But, a word of caution: look carefully before you leap. Are you leaping out of the frying pan into a bonfire?
Do your homework
It pays to prepare yourself before cutting off the ties to a secure and regular pay cheque: know yourself well and have strategies to support you through the good times and the bad.
People are motivated to start their own businesses for a variety of reasons. How passionate are you about your proposed business? Tom Peters, the American writer on business management practices, has identified passion as the key driver for a successful business: "The life of an entrepreneur is occasionally exhilarating, and almost always exhausting. Only unbridled passion for the concept is likely to see you through the 17-hour days (month after month) and the painful mistakes that are part and parcel of the start-up process."
What is your motivation?
For many people their strongest motivator for starting up a business is purely money - they look at their current job, how much their employers earn as a result of their labours and decide they'd like to earn all of that 'without the middle-man' (their employer). It may not be that simple.
Being your own boss means that the buck stops with you. How optimistic and mentally tough are you? What is your appetite for risk? Because, owning your own business is risky - you don't have a guaranteed regular income. In fact, your income isn't guaranteed at all.
If you consider yourself as shy and you hate meeting new people, how will you build your business and keep the business pipeline full? What is it about you that makes you "shy" and "not keen on networking" and what are your strategies to change that mind-set?
How do these potential negatives weigh up against all the benefits you've identified for owning your own business?
And when times get tough...
What about that business will keep you hanging in there to make it work, if times are hard? How much resilience, self-discipline and "stickability" do you really have? Are you someone who completes things and knows when to call time or are you just a good starter?
A gradual exit from the day job
Before making the leap, consider a half-way house - trying out your business on a part time basis, before fully committing to cutting the cord to regular paid employment. That may be a viable way to find out the answer to some of these questions.
Whether you do that or really want to make a leap of faith, do take some time to consider what exactly is it about your current occupation that is driving you to a decision to go out on your own? This is particularly important if dissatisfaction with your current job, as opposed to a real desire to build a business doing something you love, is your motivator to start your own business, and you do worry about the insecurity of no longer having a regular pay cheque.
Are you currently playing to your strengths and doing work that interests and stimulates you? If not, what's stopping you discussing this with your boss? Perhaps you can make adjustments to your job that will reignite your passion. Maybe it's time to change jobs.
Best case scenario
The wise saying "find your passion, make it your profession, and you will never have to work again," is so true - because doing what you love doesn't feel like work, even when you have to do all the other "stuff" that accompanies it. I haven't been happier professionally than I am now, owning my own business and doing work that I love, without all the politics and bureaucracy of working in a large organisation.
So, don't let the negatives and the chatter box in your head, reciting all the reasons why not to start your business, stop you. Once you've done your homework and are sure that you have the resilience and passion to go it alone, go for it! Because, the good news is that you are the master of your own destiny!
As Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says: When you have come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step out into the darkness of the unknown, Faith is knowing that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid to land on, or you will be taught to fly.
Some couples would never set up businesses together for fear of the pressure it would put on their marriage or personal relationship. But every day business entrepreneurs are doing it and surviving. Tell us your secrets of staying together while going through the daily pressures of running your own business. Email me, Gill South at the link below: