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The Risks and Rewards of Going into Business for Yourself

The Risks and Rewards of Going into Business for Yourself

No one would deny that starting a new business is fraught with risks, but given the uncertainty involved why is it that the US sees over 500,000 new business starts every year? After launching and running several successful businesses, along with my fair share of duds, I’m confident in my explanation. Despite the potential pitfalls, entrepreneurs launch new ventures because the benefits can be equally if not more significant than the chances that something might go wrong.

Nonetheless, it’s up to everyone to decide whether the rewards outweigh the risks of going into business for yourself.

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Risks Associated with Starting a New Venture

Again, there numerous risks associated with starting a business. Here are five of the most common ones to consider before jumping in feet first.

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  1. Long and Erratic Hours. Whether you’re adequately funded and staffed or not, as a new business owner you can expect to put in many more hours than you would at a 9 to 5. In fact, you’ll probably work more hours than anyone else in your company and with good reason–entrepreneurs wear many hats. Plus, at the end of the day when all is said and done, as the business owner, the buck stops with you. So, the moment you start your new venture you’re signing up for long and often erratic hours.
  2. Many Ruffled Feathers. Again, long and unpredictable hours are often commonplace when starting a business. So, as you might imagine the hectic schedules that often come with entering a new venture often leaves little opportunity to cultivate what matters most–relationships. Hence, family and friends can often find themselves on the short end of the stick when you begin your new venture; therefore, it’s important to build breaks into your schedule because if you don’t force yourself to stop and smell the roses, it won’t happen.
  3. Unforeseen Changes in the Market Environment. Sometimes as entrepreneurs, we start businesses oblivious to massive shifts that are occurring all around us. Many of which could easily have the potential to negatively impact your new business concern. For example, I’ve seen so many sink tens of thousands into new storefronts only to be told by local authorities – after the fact – that upcoming zoning laws will require them to make expensive renovations to ‘stay within code’ or close their doors. Of course, you can sometimes offset these types of scenarios by performing your due diligence. Nonetheless, there are some changes that you just won’t see coming no matter how much planning and preparation you do, which is why you must factor a certain degree of the unknown into all that you do as a business owner.
  4. Lack of Management Experience. There is a notion that I’ve seen among many new entrepreneurs that if they hire good managers, the owner’s lack of management experience won’t matter. Unfortunately, as many find out this is often not the case because without the requisite experience, how will you be able to identify whether your managers are making mistakes. This inability to distinguish between wise or poor business decisions is why many business experts recommend that entrepreneurs take on management positions for someone else before striking out on their own.
  5. Potential for Financial Loss. Running a business requires careful budgeting and financial management. However, the problem with many entrepreneurs is that we tend to start businesses without understanding key management functions, like how to forecast profits and losses or create financial reports.

Our lack of financial know-how is often compounded by the fact that many new businesses start before they’ve had an opportunity to secure adequate funding. Hence, it’s not uncommon to see new business owners scrambling to find odd jobs to make ends meet. One way to avoid severe cash shortages is to set aside six to twelve months of personal expenses before starting your business.

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Rewards of Starting a New Business

While there are vast challenges that come with starting your own business, the rewards can often make up for it.

  1. The Opportunity to Grow through New Challenges. One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is that you get to break away from the monotony of punching a clock and doing the same job duties, day in and out. As a business owner, you’ll face new challenges and tasks on a regular basis. In fact, it is rare that you’ll do the same thing two days in a row! And the best part of performing new activities on a regular basis is that it gives you the opportunity to grow and learn, which will ultimately help you become a better business person.
  2. You Get to Surround Yourself with Great Folks. Let’s face it, as nice as it is to earn a steady paycheck, a 9 to 5 certainly has its drawbacks. Perhaps chief among them is having to work in an environment, not of your choosing. Doing so means that you have zero say in who you will work alongside. Hence, a common complaint among those who choose to work for someone else is that they can’t get along with their supervisor or other co-workers. However, when you’re the boss you get to choose the folks that you work with, and if it turns out that you hired someone that’s hard to get along with, you have the option of letting them go.
  3. Chart Your Own Course. The ability to determine the success or failure of your business is a big draw for many entrepreneurs. In fact, many business owners cite this as their sole reason for going into business. Given that entrepreneurship tends to attract those with a take charge mentality, the business arena is a great place to go if you enjoy making weighty decisions.
  4. A Flexible Schedule. Although we often associate entrepreneurship with long and unpredictable hours, there is another side to it. Running a new business sometimes gives you more flexibility than you’d have as a full-time employee. For example, many business owners have more time to travel and participate in volunteer than full-timers.
  5. Financial Potential. There are many different motivations for doing one thing or another. For instance, some are motivated by helping others, while others find motivation in facing new challenges. But whatever helps you wake up in the morning, it’s difficult to overlook the hefty financial rewards that could await those who can successfully manage business risks. As a business owner, you’re usually only one deal away from reaping huge financial dividends.

There you have it, the most common risks and rewards of starting a business. Learn how to mitigate them, and you’ll be well on your way to big things in the business arena. Here’s to entrepreneurial success!

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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