Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

A Self Employment Checklist

Entrepreneurship has always been a key driver for job creation in our marketplace, and small businesses will continue to generate the lion’s share of new jobs in the future.

When it comes to job creation, there’s no playground quite as exciting or readily available for new entrants than the world of self-employment. While stepping into business is not for the weak or weary, it holds great promise for anyone with skills to market and a modicum of get-up-and-go.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you consider joining the ranks of the self-employed. Continue reading A Self Employment Checklist

Myths about Owning a Business

Successful business owners make running a business look easy. Observing from the outside, it’s easy to imagine that they harvest massive rewards with little or no effort. That is just one of many misconceptions about owning your own business. Here are a few more:

1. A Business Is a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme.
It’s more accurate to say that most “overnight successes” take at least 25 years of hard labour. An entrepreneur is a twisted individual who will work 15-hour days at minimum wage to avoid taking a real day job at $20 per hour.

2. You Need a Lot of Money to Start a Business.
Some businesses do have a high start-up price tag, many do not. If you are a tradesperson who owns all the necessary tools to work for someone else, you might already have most of what you need to start your own business. Many people start small enterprises by investing a lot of sweat equity and little or no cash. Continue reading Myths about Owning a Business

Isolation Not Always the Entrepreneur’s Best Friend

Running a small business can be a lonely trek. Isolation can be a challenge for new business owners working alone. This can come as a shock to anyone who gives up their day job to run their own business. Isolation can be powerful enough to send some early-stage owners scurrying back to work for someone else. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with isolation:

1. Write your goals and post them in a visible location in your work area. Annual sales targets are wonderful and necessary, but too broad to be useful on a daily basis. To gain maximum motivation, break your long-term targets into weekly or daily goals.

2. Foster a healthy sense of urgency. Cultivate a bias for getting things done. Ask yourself, “What am I doing right now to move me closer to achieving my goals.” Most of us can achieve much more than we think we can by adopting a “do-it-now” attitude.

3. Establish a support network. It’s healthy to interact with positive, supportive people. Your support team can be arranged formally, or be completely unstructured. My support network is an eclectic assortment of special souls that I occasionally have coffee or lunch with. To battle isolation, try having at least one power-lunch or meeting per week.

4. Make your customers your number one focus. You are not really in business until you are serving customers. If you’re short of customers, get busy marketing to bring in more customers. More time invested in your customers will leave less time to be idle, and less time to dwell on isolation.

5. Get a part-time job. Seriously. I have not yet owned a business that was able to support me during its infancy. Many thriving businesses get their foothold while the owner works for someone else. A full or part-time job can help you bring in some needed cash, as well as providing the human contact that might be missing from your business life. Besides, working for someone else might just remind you why you started your business in the first place. Dancing to someone else’s tune for a time may be the nudge needed to rekindle your passion to be your own boss.

In spite of the downside, isolation has its benefits. If you’re the sort of person who thrives on freedom, the autonomous workspace is more likely a welcome friend than a downer. If you enjoy independence and prefer to work without someone looking over your shoulder, small business ownership might be ideal for you!

This is one of the topics that will be discussed in the  Fast-Track to Self-Employment BootCamp coming up June, 2012 in Prince George, Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria. Navigate the transition from employee to being your own boss with finesse.

Business is More Than a Crap Shoot

Those who haven’t owned a business tend to think businesses are built on mystical gut feelings that readily morph into bulging bank accounts, hot cars and holidays. Sure, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates did just fine by following their hunches, but the hype overshadows the massive amount of work it took to make Facebook and Microsoft successful.

Statistics on the failure rate of small businesses can be sobering. Conventional wisdom suggests that about half of small businesses (those with revenues under $30,000) survive after three years, while approximately a third survive after five years. To be sure, this category of business activity, also referred to as micro-enterprise, includes a lot of businesses that are simple to start and easy to jettison when something better comes up. The statistics deal with the most developmental business arena, where a lot of newbies cut their entrepreneurial teeth. It also includes a lot of drive-bys who jump in long enough to check out the self-employment scene, and bail out once they realize they’re earning less than minimum wage.

Whatever else the high failure rate of new business tells us, it hints that success is more than blind luck. Some would characterize entrepreneurs as risk takers. While there’s a bit of truth to this, successful business owners are not so much gamblers as they are effective risk managers.

One of the cornerstones to becoming an effective risk manager is to find a healthy balance between intuition and due diligence. Due diligence is the research needed to validate your hunches and clarify your business case. A business case is built on more than notions and dreams; it has to have a solid indication of demand for your goods, customers that are willing to pay the right prices, and a bulletproof plan for getting in front of customers.

New business owners can increase their chances of survival by doing due diligence in the following three ways.

  1. Validate the Demand. To confirm demand for products or services, business owners will learn all they can about their customer’s wants and needs. This education can come through a combination of reading, working in the target industry, conducting surveys, and most importantly, talking to customers.
  2. Validate the Prices. When it comes to setting prices, there’s no confidence builder quite as convincing as making sales. However, prior to making sales, entrepreneurs can learn about pricing by knowing what it costs to produce their goods, and by learning everything they can about the industry and in particular, the competitors. The Internet is by far the easiest source of information on prices.
  3. Develop a Marketing Plan. Think of marketing as everything you will do to communicate to potential customers. Your marketing plan will detail how you’ll get your goods in front of customers, including costs each marketing campaign or activity.

Business success is much more than a crap shoot, and much riskier than buying a lottery ticket. It’s also true that business, managed effectively, is a surer path to success than gambling. And if you enjoy the work you do, it can also be fun getting there.

Gates and Zuckerberg are inspirations for us all, but don’t be blinded by the hype. If you’re feeling intuitive and lucky, buy a lottery ticket. If you want to build a successful business, by all means follow your instincts, but do your homework by validating your hunches before putting any significant investment on the line.