Hello, friends! So, January is upon us again and a new working year awaits. (Sigh). This year, it's not a sigh of frustration but a cheerful, wistful sigh full of anticipation and excitement. 2016 for me was pretty epic, no doubt! I celebrated 4 years of freelancing, welcomed my first born into the world, ushered in some fantastic new clients and generally, had a bit of a ball. 2017 has a lot to live up to, but already there are some exciting things on the horizon, all of which I'll be sharing with you very soon. This year is all about taking risks and realising dreams.
Of the past year, I've had more and more emails from young designers all over the place asking for advice and tips on freelancing as well as chaps and chapesses who've been working in the industry but have found themselves unemployed and looking to set up on their own. It's been my privilege to offer what advice I can and I've been truly humbled to be asked as I'm sure there are many, many, MANY much more qualified people to ask in the world. This month I've also been involved with Welsh Ice's new venture Boma Camp. The team behind Wales’ largest innovation center and co-working space are inviting users to trail a new online learning platform to help aspiring entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. I've been lucky enough to offer some tips and tricks and share my own start-up story.
Hearing about the many people who are taking the brave steps to starting their own business and working for themselves and hearing the questions they have, I thought it would be useful to put together 7 signs you're ready to start your own business. This is of course, based on my experience but will hopefully be useful to anyone sitting on the fence. Here goes...
1. Your day job is no longer fulfilling.
For people who are destined to work for themselves, there might come a point where you feel a bit claustrophobic heading to the same office, to do the same thing, with the same people every day. Working for a great company can be invaluable though and no doubt you've learned a great deal and grown as a professional during your time there. Think of it as your stepping stone to where you want to be and learn as much as you can along the way. When it's time, you'll know. Whether you've reached your earning potential, feel creatively stifled or just generally yearning for something different, it's time to go. Being in a job you don't love, won't do you any favours.
2. You feel more excited about the risk and have a plan.
Leaving a full-time job with a regular wage is, of course, a risk. Especially when you're doing it to go and work for yourself. But if that thought begins to excite you more than it scares you then it's definitely time to think seriously about it. This is where the planning comes in. Make sure you've got a good idea of what your first step is before you jump off the cliff of full-time employment and if possible, try and make some progress before you leave. Whether it's a full-blown business plan and some funding applications in the post or just a rough outline of the back of a serviette (worked for Richard Branson) have an idea of where you want to go and how to get there.
3. You're ready to learn.
In all likelihood, you've been in a role that requires one area of expertise. Perhaps you've been a designer, an account manager, a social media manager, an accountant. It's unlikely you've been all four at the same time. Well, get ready to learn. With no departments on speed dial, you'll have to wear lots of hats in the early days. It won't be easy and you'll mess up quite a lot but you'll definitely learn a great deal.
4. You're okay with the fear of failure.
It's unlikely to go super smoothly but if you're up to the challenge of finding solutions and navigating problems then have no fear. It's all about trial and error. Being a business owner means you can't get frustrated, throw your toys out of the pram and refuse to talk to anyone. You have to pick yourself up and get on with it, and don't forget that smile! Just keep swimming...
5. You understand when to ask for help.
Setting up on your own doesn't mean that you have nowhere to turn and it doesn't mean that you have to do everything yourself. As I said, you're not going to be brilliant in every role. For me, it was numbers. I found myself spending too much time trying to work out accounts and HMRC forms and not enough time doing the paid work, so I asked for help. Yes, I had to shell out a few bucks for an accountant but the time I would have spent trying to figure it all out, was safely spent on client projects, earning money. There are also tons of great blogs online and community social media groups for entrepreneurs, so don't be afraid to find someone who knows the answer.
6. You're passionate about your new venture.
People talk a lot of fluff about passion and it's true, it isn't enough. But it is essential. Being bored in your day job won't be enough to launch your new successful business. You must be passionate about what you do, have a product or a service that people need and be passionate about telling people all about it. If you're not enthusiastic about it, how do you expect your potential customers to be? It's also essential to find out whether your passion, is a passion for others. Who will you sell to otherwise? Do your research!
7. You know why you're doing it and what you want from it.
Why are you doing this, what do you want to get out of it? Some entrepreneurs dream of running a huge company and sitting in a fancy leather chair, surveying their domain. Others (like me) just want to improve their quality of life, have flexibility and more family time. If you work out what's important to you first, it'll be easier to figure out how to get there and plan. Focus. Of course, things might change as your business progresses but just adapt as you go along. Are you doing it because you want to be rich, live abroad, spent more time at home? Ask yourself.
These are certainly not the only points to consider but it's not a bad place to start. As long as you know that it won't be easy and you'll come across some difficult times, then you'll be fine. But, it will also be fulfilling, rewarding, exciting, thrilling and unlike anything you will ever do! Are you up for the challenge?