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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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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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