By Ericka Simpson
Passion and desire are hard to refuse. They push you into action. If they point toward owning your own business, be bold yet cautiously smart. And expect to experience business readiness symptoms, internal signals that may be painful.
Signs that you may be an entrepreneur
I remember when I first started experiencing business readiness symptoms. Although I was working a full-time job for a major corporation, I felt stuck. It wasn’t that going after promotions, horizontal job expansion and creative, corporate work wasn’t on my radar.
It was that I was ready to move on. I was ready to start my own business.
But, as may be the case with you, I needed to build a pipeline of cash flow before I launched my business full-time. So, for two years, I operated my publishing company as a side job. That’s when the business readiness symptoms got worse.
This is what I learned. Although they are no fun, these symptoms are a part of the growth process. Do any of these business readiness symptoms sound familiar?
• Sleeplessness or the inability to stay asleep for longer than one to three hours at a time
• Desire to explore and learn new things
• Rising courage
• Sharpness to your dreams, especially dreams that offer tips on actions that you should be taking now
• Hopefulness that, at times, feels nagging
• Focus on a hobby, creative pursuit or work that you abandoned years ago (in order to get a “stable” job that would pay the bills)
• Dissatisfaction with just going with the flow or sticking to routine
Welcome to the club! You just might be at the cusp of a business launch. It’s an exciting, nutty time. As invigorating as it may feel, don’t jump too soon.
In fact, one of the best ways to reduce business readiness symptoms is to conduct the right due diligence. Set yourself up for business success. Following are ways that you can easily do that.
Don’t just operate any business, operate a successful business
Identify expenses clearly. Create a line item budget. Include product or service development, employee or contractor payroll expenses, marketing costs and all other expenses in the budget. Stick to the budget. If you don’t stick to the budget, you’re wasting your time to create it.
Conduct market research. If you don’t have experience with market research, outsource this project to an experienced professional. Market research helps you to find out if other companies have the same patents that you want. Other data that market research reveals include how large your product’s demographic is, how saturated the market is and where your target audience is located.
Create an advisory team. These don’t have to be people with degrees. Your advisory team does need to have business experience and experience with products or services you’re launching. At the beginning, you may meet with your team bi-monthly. Bounce ideas off your team. Accept feedback without defending your ideas, as this could save you money over the short and long term.
More steps to reduce business readiness symptoms
Develop cash flows. Pre-orders, investors and seed money are ways to develop beginning cash flows. But, don’t stop here. Also develop two to three ways to keep cash flows operating. For example, you might schedule the launch of a new product every 8 to 14 months. You might expand your service areas each quarter or bi-annually. Definitely, establish bill pay cycles and have vendors and customers stick to payment due dates.
Get clear about how much time you have to devote to running your own business. You could easily work 50 or more hours a week and even six to seven days a week during the first few years that your business operates.
Design backups and alternative methods to handle snags and delays. For example, you can develop shipping alternatives and establish relationships with employment agencies should you need additional staff quickly.
Build a strong future for your business
Create a project plan and timeline for when you will complete business launch actions. Similar to a budget, stick to the business launch project plan. Items to build into the plan include getting federal, state and local licenses. You also need to complete any necessary registrations and set up a quarterly tax payment schedule. Open a business bank account. Get business cards, brochures and other marketing tools. Build a website and social media accounts. These are just a few items to add to your business launch project plan.
Build a measurable marketing plan. Familiarize yourself with marketing technology like Google and Adobe analytics and content marketing scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite. Hashtag managers and email marketing tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp are other marketing tools to consider.
Learn about marketing strategies and tools via resources like HubSpot, Search Engine Land and Google Support. Keep learning. Take certifications and set up email alerts to keep up with search engine algorithm and ranking changes.
Take care of yourself to reduce business readiness symptoms
From a personal standpoint, get enough exercise. This means, getting outside in natural light. Eat a healthy diet. Don’t stress and get plenty of sleep (but not too much).
Accept that you may make mistakes along the way. Be patient with yourself. Seek support when you need it. Hire people who have the skillset that can move your business forward. Also, hire people with strong ethics and morals. It may sound simple, but this one can save you big.
Stay positive, even during periods when you may start to doubt yourself or feel afraid. If you’ve got a serious case of business readiness symptoms, you just may be ready to leap! Just do it smartly!