What would it take to consider placing a bet on yourself? What would it take for you to exchange your employee status for being your own boss?
Becoming your own boss may be one of the most frightening and exhilarating career decisions you will ever make. If you’re looking for motivation, or even a quick gut check, read on and decide if it’s time to ante up and go all in.
If you’re looking for a magical, no-risk, perfect moment, I’m afraid you’re already out of luck. There will never be a perfect time! There’s always a reason to wait—a rocky economy, a fluctuating industry, or an unsettled personal life. If you really want to start your own business, you don’t need to wait for the perfect time. You just need to wait until you’ve developed a solid, well-researched plan.
There’s one thing that the creators of Apple, Amazon, and your favorite bakery down the street have in common: all of these businesses started with a few brave souls, a solid idea, and a willingness to gamble on themselves.
Your Ace: a Business Plan
Before you start spending, begin with a detailed business plan. Dedicate a notebook, a file on your computer, and a significant amount of time to creating your business model, setting goals, and stating how you will deliver on your dreams. Make sure you include:
- The service/product your business will provide
- Research regarding industry trends
- Why customers need your product/service
- Your business and management structure
- Marketing and sales strategies to reach customers
- Immediate financial needs
- Financial projections for the future (and contingency plans)
We’ve all heard it takes money to make money, but that doesn’t mean you have to financially go it alone. While you may need investors (make sure you have a lawyer go over any contracts), you should also make a notable contribution to your business. According to QuickBooks™, it may not even take as much as you think—over 40% of small businesses started for less than $5,000.
Even with that good news in mind, make sure to calculate:
- Your start-up costs
- Do you need an office, equipment, or storefront?
- What do you need to create your product/provide your service?
- What licenses, insurance, and taxes do you need to factor in?
- Do you need an accountant, marketing maven, or sales rep? Will you in the future?
- Have you saved enough money to cover living expenses until your business takes off?
Unlike slots, starting a business is not a solo venture. Professional relationships are vital to a successful business, and networking is the best way to create those relationships. Use LinkedIn® to build industry connections. Join a small business owners group locally or on Facebook, follow companies you admire on social media, attend conferences to learn more about your field. If you have friends who own businesses, take them out for a cup of coffee and learn from their experiences.
If you’re looking for further resources to help you decide if you’re interested in starting your own business, here are some great places to start:
- Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) offers Entrepreneur Boot Camps.
- VetToCEO assists with creating a business plan, marketing strategies, understanding finances, and building your business through networking.
- Milspo Project is a global network of entrepreneurs who share ideas, tips, and inspiration.
- The National Military Spouse Network (NMSN) is an organization committed to the education, empowerment, and advancement of military spouse entrepreneurs.
- Cornell University just announced free, online courses for women entrepreneurs to encourage and empower women to start their own businesses.
Here at MSCCN, we believe in your dreams. Go out, make a plan, and tell us all about your success stories!
Story by Amanda Marksmeier