There comes a point in every career where the allure of going your own way beckons. Working for someone else is how most people start, but what happens once you have enough experience and confidence to stand on your own? Thoughts of going solo might be triggered by being passed over for a promotion, seeing someone else jump ship, or a gradual sense that you’re ready for the next step in your career. Which begs the question, is it the right move for you?
The Impact of Motivation
If the thought of your own private practice or solo venture beckons, ask yourself why. The freedom of being your own boss and doing things your own way might be tempting, but something deeper must carry you when the excitement wears off and the obvious benefits are shadowed by the unexpected or tedious. Being in charge of your own clientele essentially becomes small business ownership. Adding new clients, servicing them, dealing with logistical and regulatory issues big and small becomes quite a commitment not to be taken lightly. When you are the engine of your business, everything stops when you stop, so be sure you have the right motivation. Understanding your true motivation for going independent is key to carry on when things get difficult. The first most important question is why you want to make the change. Is the added responsibility your way of taking control of your future or is there something bothering you about your current situation? Uncovering your deeper motivations can help align your goal to your happiness. Many ventures stop before they even start because the motivating force behind them isn’t strong enough to overcome doubts or inertia.
Dig Deep for Self Determination
A useful exercise is the “Five why” method. Wanting to make more money is a common reason. However, if your reasons are only financial, you can gain more satisfaction in your current position simply by asking for a raise. Asking a second question of why you want to make more money is more useful. Perhaps you want to save for a house or raise your standard of living. Going even deeper and asking a third time might reveal that you want stability or a certain amount of respect. Being your own boss is not for the faint of heart. If your motivation is security and safety, perhaps it is not the right choice. However, for those seeking to make an impression, being in charge is a fine way to show your status. Goals related to autonomy, mastery or a cause are the most durable sources of drive.
Make a Plan for Success
With a clear sense of purpose, you can define fulfilling goals you can stick with. To be clear on the concrete real-world steps to reach those goals, a business plan is in order to organize your thoughts. What sort of services are you offering and how does it differ from other products already out there? Think of the opportunities your business has for solving problems and how you will help your customers. Analyze the market and need for your services and how you will reach new clients. Dedicate time to estimating fixed costs to determine monthly expenses and how much starting capital you need. The biggest expenses are commonly rent and staff, on top of utilities, phone bills, supplies and advertising. Predicting revenue depends on your current clientele and market, so it may be useful to build a model of how your business might perform. If you are unsure, check out the financial modelling training options here. A business plan that makes sound financial sense will not only help you take the appropriate steps, but also convince others to invest in your venture, and financial modeling training could be the way to go.
Make a Graceful Exit
There is a solid plan backing your dreams, now it’s time to give your two weeks’ notice. Goodbye can be awkward. What do you owe your current employer? If you have a non-compete clause in your employment contract, make sure you are not violating it. Note that even if you do have such a clause, they are unenforceable in states like California, so check your local regulations. Depending on your industry, more notice as a courtesy can soften an exit. Ideally you have a mentor relationship with someone more experienced that would not be damaged by such a well thought out move. Someone who really cares for you will be interested in your growth and will not stand in your way. Asking them what is normal for your industry may help. If you do not have a mentor, checking in with your HR department may be necessary. Giving your boss a heads up may make things awkward but helping cover your role as you exit is the professional thing to do. Close as many projects as you can and split and delegate to your coworkers anything remaining. Making recommendations for your replacement or giving solid leads can help too. Stealing client lists will certainly burn bridges, but there is nothing wrong with offering your services to customers you have an established relationship with.
Building Your Business
If following the business plan is paying your overhead costs and you are finding it fulfilling, it might be tempting to get complacent. There is nothing wrong with simply staying the course. Paying less attention to minor distractions that pop up may allow you to focus on the present plan, but don’t be afraid to change. Many of the most successful practices emerge from reactions to real world problems. Adjusting to new opportunities that come up may take some creativity. Don’t be afraid to pivot! A small business is nimble enough to adapt to such changes. Not having the weight of a huge company means having the ability to experiment and implement new things. That is when you can test new strategies and determine your strengths. Innovation keeps you ahead of the competition. Take advantage of markets deemed too difficult for other companies to reach and providing great service when no one else can deliver is how your business will grow. Only going for low hanging fruit will make you miss opportunities. Set your sights higher. Look where your competition isn’t, find out why, and see if you can get around the thing that’s holding everyone else back. Look where your competition is falling short, find a way to do it better or cheaper. Luck is made by first being open to opportunity. Those who have lucky things happen are the ones able to notice the penny on the ground or the future big client that needs a hand today. As the boss, looking for opportunities for your business will always be on your mind.
Being the Face of Your Brand
Making a name for yourself becomes essential as you become your own brand. Networking with local businesses, professional groups and social clubs should be generating new opportunities for business. Everything you do is a reflection on your work. Honesty and diligence during your social life reflects well on you as a professional. Volunteer opportunities can be a way of advertising. Goodwill generated by donating your services will not only feel good but will help you to break into new markets. Whatever clients you gain will trust you on your reputation. Meetings will have more importance when you visit as the boss. Checking in with your old mentor or previous coworkers can help you keep abreast of what’s going on in your industry. Solid relationships will mean more support in the future, and you may even attract others to join you.
Working for yourself brings a sense of accomplishment and pride that being just another employee cannot match. Growing a small business into a large thriving business is a journey of small wins over daily problems. For people with the right motivation, running a small business gives the kind of purpose that brings not just prosperity but meaning to their lives. If you can form a solid plan and raise the capital, why not do it?