The last few weeks we’ve been talking about money, both getting into the right mindset and managing your money properly by setting up your personal and business accounts and defining your financial goals. Money is one of the biggest concerns for people as they think about making any kind of change in their career and it’s particularly important in the context of launching your own business. But it’s not the only consideration! Launching your own business requires a lot of thinking, planning and preparation, it puts high demands on you as an individual… and it’s simply not for everyone.
Running own business is an incredibly attractive proposition, promising freedom and economic independence for those who succeed.
And that last bit is pretty important: for those who succeed.
There are various statistics floating around about how many businesses fail in their first year. Although there’s no one figure, the point here is that starting a business is inherently risky and a lot of people will fail in their attempts.
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There are different reasons for failure of course. But they can include:
- failing to validate the business idea
- a lack of understanding of the customer or the market
- missing a clear value proposition and differentiation versus competition
- not finding a viable business model.
You may have heard of the lean startup model and the essence of this is that you don’t need pages and pages of formal business plans. Instead you need a starting point and then you’ll learn as you go, ‘pivoting’ and evolving as you get actual results from the real world.
But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need a plan at all.
In my experience failure can also be the result of less obvious aspects:
- not preparing yourself mentally, in terms of your mindset
- a lack of commitment and willingness to do the work
- not getting external help when you need it
- not creating a working schedule and environment to support you.
A lot of people simply give up too soon, when things get tough, and so persistence and resilience are two important attributes if you want to succeed.
In fact, there are quite a few personality traits that are key to being an entrepreneur and the truth is that some people are more suited to it than others.
Entrepreneurs need passion and a belief that what they are doing is really important; a high tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity; tenacity as they meet with failure after failure; flexibility to learn and adapt as they go; and a knack for networking and communicating their ideas. Some of these traits come naturally and some can be developed.
So how do you know if launching your own business is the right decision for you and how can you give yourself the best chances of success?
Well, it won’t surprise you if you know me at all that the first step I’ll emphasise when setting out to launch your own business is to define success.
When you’re thinking about launching your own business, it’s easy to get lost in all your day-to-day tasks or get caught up in worrying about money and making the financials work. The first step, however, has to be understanding what’s important to you, what your vision is for the business overall and how that fits into your personal lifestyle and priorities.
If you understand your ‘why’ you can make sure that you set up your business so that it gives you what you’re looking for, and this will also ensure that you have the motivation and commitment to stay the course. If you know what you want to accomplish, then you can design strategies to reach those goals. And if you know how the new business needs to fit into the rest of your life – family, friends, social life, free time, travel – then you can make sure that you end up with the right balance for you.
Defining success is the first step as you move forwards with a possible business idea; based on my experience in my own business and advising others I’ve identified four additional steps:
Step 1: Defining what ‘success’ looks like for you
Step 2: Addressing any concerns and building your confidence and resilience
Step 3: Getting clear on your business proposition
Step 4: Building an effective brand platform
Step 5: Designing flexible work-life integration
I’ll be elaborating on each of the different steps in the coming weeks but in the meantime, you can explore where you are in the process with this free scorecard:
The 5 pillars scorecard consists of 50 statements that will help you discover where you are on each pillar, give you an indication of specific areas to focus on, and offer you clear next steps for how to improve your score.
You’ll also get access to a free masterclass that will take you through the 5 pillars, and corresponding action steps, in more detail, as well as the option to discuss your results with me personally on the phone.