On Becoming Self-Employed – Part 2

Some people can’t get over the hump on the self-employment idea simply because they can’t imagine how they’d do it. This is one of the things my friend Tasha is facing right now. With so many big steps to take, she’s quivering at all the places where she can mess up. But if you focus on what can go wrong, you’ll scare yourself right out of a great opportunity. You must deal with the things that are causing you to be fearful and then put it away and get busy.

Ask yourself: what’s the worst that can happen?

Might you lose everything? Have to declare bankruptcy? Have to put having a family on hold? Hey, you could lose everything if you lose your job and can’t find another (a real likelihood in today’s economy) so that shouldn’t stop you. And the way to avoid this outcome is to have a good plan in place so you can check your progress and your downsides to keep you honest.

Not everything you try will work the first time. Some things need tweaking. Some things need time. And some ideas need to be scrapped completely. If you have a stash of cash handy to see you through, you’re much more likely to succeed. That may mean keeping your day job while you launch your new enterprise. Or it may mean taking on a biz partner so you share the costs of the new start up. Whatever it takes that’s what you do if you’re serious about being successful.

Ultimately, you may have to take another job and save up to try again. Hey, been there, done that.

One of the best ways of getting your new enterprise off the ground is to start small and stay lean. It’s pretty well known that approximately 80% of new small businesses in Canada fail within the first five years, in no small measure because of a lack of money. And while you may think you need every new toy under the sun to make the biz go, that’s often not true. One of the reasons why women are more likely to be successful is that they are willing to do everything themselves: do the work, cut the invoices, pay the bills, clean the toilets. The fewer your bills, the less revenue you initially need to survive, and the more flexibility you have to change as you need to. So don’t start with a lot of expenses. Start small, and keep your expenses as low as you can.

One of the smartest things you can do is build a business plan for a new start-up. A boat without a rudder will just drift so one of the most important resources to get you off on the right foot by helping you to think things through is a business plan. If you’re not prepared to invest the time and effort to map out your new business forgedaboutit. Once you’re off and running, most of your business decisions will have to be made quickly on a reactive day-to-day basis. You better have the big picture firmly in mind so you do go off half-cocked. The Government of Canada offers an online small business workshop and websites abound that can help you to create a plan. Find a format you think is applicable to your new endeavour and get busy planning.

There are a bunch of skills you need to have, aside and apart from what you’re primary skill you’re trying to sell to the world. Whether you’re knitting a new kind of self-warming mitten, introducing your Grandma’s Pickles to the community, or opening up shop as the next great web designer, you’ll also have to understand how receivables and payables work, when you must file your GST and how often it makes sense to reconcile your chequebook. Hey! Those are some pretty useful skills in life too. Get busy learning!

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