Becoming your own boss is a major shift in responsibility. For the first time, your income will be directly linked to your results. Fortunately, many people have made the transition before you. You can learn from their experience. The following 10 steps will smooth the path to business greatness.
1. Prepare For The Learning Curve
Managing yourself in your own business presents a dramatic challenge, quite unlike anything you do as an individual. In order to transform yourself into an effective boss, be prepared to learn. That means adopting a beginner’s mindset. Take note of comments from your customers, as well as those who decline to buy from you.
Action Step: Carry a notebook with you to every meeting so that you don’t lose any valuable insights.
Resource: To navigate through a challenging career change read “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful!” by Marshall Goldsmith.
2. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Management achievement starts with self understanding. Knowing yourself for leadership growth is a key way to set yourself apart from other people. How do you get to know yourself better? You can use reflection tools such as the 5 Minute Journal. There is also value in using personality assessment tools such as the DISC Profile.
To go deep with your strengths, use the Strengths Finder assessment (and read the book: “StrengthsFinder 2.0″ by Tim Rath).
Action Step: Complete a personality profile such as DISC to discover your strengths and weaknesses.
3. Become A Master of Meetings
Meetings are a key professional tool that successful managers use to accomplish work and make important decisions. If you are still complaining about meetings, it is time to improve. Top managers show mastery of effective meeting habits, such as following a written agenda and keeping a meeting focused.
Action Step: Review the meetings you regularly attend and make note of which one is most effective? Visit the person who runs that meeting and ask them for advice on how to run effective meetings.
4. Talk To Three People Who Run Companies In Your Niche
There is no replacement for the advice and insight of successful entrepreneurs in your own industry. For example, if you are planning to open a fitness company, there are many questions you ask before you start. You could; for example, ask successful people how they obtained customers in their first year of operations. In addition, ask what expenses are truly necessary to get started. The answer may be less than you imagine.
Action Step: Use Linkedin Advanced Search and contact three successful entrepreneurs in your industry. Ask them to lunch. Come prepared with a list of questions!
5. Focus on Sales, Not Business Cards
Starting a business is exciting! The excitement and the potential for significant income are some of the reasons you may feel drawn to start a business. In order for your business idea to succeed, you must spend serious time and attention on sales. Resist the urge to spend a lot of money on business cards, office supplies and other expenses. Sales needs to be the top priority.
Action Step: Experiment with different sales and marketing ideas (e.g. cold calling or online marketing) until you start to find success.
6. Open A Business Bank Account
Managing money effectively is important to growing your business. To avoid tax problems, open a business bank account so that your business expenses and revenues are kept apart from your personal money. Many banks and credit unions offer low cost business checking accounts to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Action Step: Open a business checking account at your local financial institution.
7. Create A Business Structure (e.g. The Legal Stuff)
As you work to obtain your first few customers, you may decide to operate as a sole proprietorship. That business structure has the advantage of needing little or no paperwork to establish, depending on your country’s requirements. If you expect to face significant risk or liability, you may wish to consult an attorney or lawyer for further advice.
Action Step: Request a meeting with a business lawyer to seek advice on what business structure to use.
8. Build Your Business On The Side
Building a successful company takes years of steady work and learning from your mistakes. That’s why many people build their companies during the evenings and weekends, while they keep a regular day job to pay the bills. Taking this approach also gives you the flexibility to try several business ideas and target markets.
Action Step: Set a goal for how many hours per week (e.g. 10-20 hours per week) you will work on your “side business” to grow it.
9. Build A Six Month Emergency Fund Before You Quit Your Job
Becoming your own boss is exciting! Unfortunately, some people make the mistake of leaving their day jobs behind before thinking through their financial needs. To give yourself peace of mind, set up a seperate bank account where you save the equivalent of six months of expenses. For example, if your monthly living expenses are $2000, then a six month emergency fund would require $12,000.
Tip: If you’re not sure where to find extra cash for your emergency fund try reading: Spring Cleaning Your Finances to Find Hidden Money.
Action Step: Open a high interest savings account and start adding money to your emergency fund.
10. Hire Staff Very Slowly
Hiring your first employee is a major step in the growth of a new business. However, a bad hiring decision has the potential to damage your business and waste a great deal of your time. Delay hiring your first team member until it is absolutely required.
Action Step: Look into hiring a virtual assistant to help you grow your business.
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