Advertising
Advertising

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Job to Start Your Own Business

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Job to Start Your Own Business

If you want to live a passionate life of freedom, quit your job and start your own business. Escaping the limitations of 9–5 is the only way to experience true freedom. But to be sure your transition will be successful, ask yourself these 12 questions before you take the leap.

1. Are you willing to do whatever it takes?

To start your own business you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. Sometimes that’s not fun: it’s inconvenient and you can’t do what you really want to. The willingness to do whatever it takes comes from a deep commitment to your business that all successful entrepreneurs must have.

2. Are you willing to adapt your approach often?

The only way for a business to fail is to stop adapting. If a product doesn’t sell, keep adapting, modifying, changing and improving it until it does. You might change its color, change its price, change who you sell it to or change its stated purpose. You may need to change the product, change the service or change the product into a service. Keep changing until you get it right. Failure only comes when you stop doing this.

Advertising

3. Are you focused enough to start your own business?

Focus worked for Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, so it will probably work pretty well for you. There are only two resources you put into creating a business: time and money. Even Warren and Bill have a limited amount of both. So do you. To successfully start your own business, you have to pour all you have into it. Your business needs as much of your resources as you can possibly give it, so pour it all in. Don’t spread your resources among several small things; none of them will get enough of what they need to succeed.

4. Are you willing to give up some things in the short term?

The only time you should give up things that are important to you is when giving them up will allow you to have more of them in the future. This is one of those times. There may be no vacations for a year, or two, or three. There will be way less TV. There will be less time with your kids, friends and family. If you want the increased time and the increased quality of time (which comes from money) in the future, you must give up some of it now. Do it for your future.

5. Are you ready for the most intense psychotherapy you’ve ever undergone?

Aspiring entrepreneurs often believe they will learn about business plans, marketing, accounting and business models. You will, but that will be small compared to the self-discovery process you will go through. You’ll learn about your strengths, weaknesses and everything in between. Starting a business is a very personal process and one that will test your limits and make you realize you had capabilities you never even thought possible. You’ll also probably cry a few times.

Advertising

6. Are you able to listen without judging or evaluating?

When you start your own business, you must develop your listening skills to a level beyond what you ever thought was possible. You have to listen to your customers and prospects so closely you can even hear what they don’t say. You need a level of understanding of your customers that you can’t get unless you listen to every word they say and understand their needs and aspirations better than they do.

7. Are you ready to fire your ego?

Your first dirty job as CEO of your own business is to give your ego the pink slip. If you don’t fire your ego, it will be the worst employee on your team. Your ego makes you think you’re right all the time and won’t let you objectively consider all the relevant facts. When you start your own business, you have to be humble and able to consider all information (remember number 6) without feeling threatened by the possibility of being wrong. Ego, pack up your cubicle!

8. Are you ready to accept feedback?

As an entrepreneur, you have to be open and willing to accept the information you receive as feedback. Then you have to take the feedback and use it to make your business, product or service better. You can’t do this if your ego is standing guard — defending you as perfect and all-knowing (good thing you fired it in number 7). You have to be able to accept the feedback and realize that, perhaps nobody wants to buy your little blue widget. However, if you’ve been listening (there’s number 6 again), you’ll know they would buy it at a higher price if you just painted it red and added googly eyes.

Advertising

9. Are you confident enough to ignore feedback?

Yes, this is the opposite of number 8. Sorry about that. But as an entrepreneur, you’ll have to confront conflicting information often. While you do have to be willing to accept feedback, you also have to have enough confidence in your vision for your business that you can ignore feedback as well. One person says emphatically the widget must be blue. Another says with equal emphasis that it must be red. They have equal credibility. It’s your company, your vision and you get to decide: you must decide. Confidently make a decision and let your vision for the business guide you. If you make the wrong decision that’s OK. Speaking of that, we probably need to talk about failure.

10. Are you cool with failure?

The media loves failure. They love to see businesses, celebrities and entrepreneurs fall on their face because it makes great news. They’ve convinced us that “failure” is a big, catastrophic event and (worst of all) the end. It’s not. Failing is just part of the process. It’s just another step toward success. The important thing is to never believe that failure is the end. Just get back up and keep going.

11. Are you willing to take full responsibility for whatever happens?

My high-school English teacher would cringe because each of these headings started with “Are you,” but that’s intentional. When you start your own business, you must believe that everything that happens, good or bad, is because of you. Blaming any other person, entity, organization, situation or the weather will doom your business because it takes you off the hook. It gives you someone else to blame, which your ego will temporarily enjoy, but in the longer term it will spell the end of your business. Because by giving away responsibility, you’ve given away your power. Keep your responsibility and keep your power.

Advertising

12. Do you care about starting your business more than anything?

You’ll never be able to start your own business unless you care about it a whole bunch. That doesn’t mean there can’t be other things you care about — there should be. But your business has to be up in your top two or three. If it’s not important enough, the daily grind and to-do lists will push your business to the bottom of the heap and you’ll never give it the focus it needs to thrive.

Business plans, market analysis, financial cushion and all that are great, but none of that matters if you can’t say, “Yes!” with ten exclamation points to each of these things. The happiest and most successful people in the world are entrepreneurs and that’s because they have answered a euphoric yes to these questions and created a business and a life they are passionate about.

If you answer no to any of these questions, it doesn’t mean you can’t start a business, it just means you’re not ready. Keep reading, studying, dreaming and hang out with some successful entrepreneurs. You’ll get ready.

More by this author

9 Characteristics of Spirited Entrepreneurs Important Things to Know About the Revolutionary “Share Economy” 25 Amazing Productivity Tips From Successful Mompreneurs These 11 Millennials Prove that You Are On the Right Track Incredible Productivity Advice Given By 21 Successful Young Entrepreneurs

Trending in Work

1 How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs 2 How to Become an Entrepreneur (Advice from a Serial Entrepreneur) 3 13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers 4 How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter (With Examples) 5 30 Best Business Books for Entrepreneurs Who Want to Make an Impact

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 28, 2020

How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

1. Digital Savviness

As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence and to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

Companies like Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb and more are a testament to the disruptive impact of technology and the new image of what it means to be a skilled, successful professional. Think about today’s Mark Zuckerberg versus a banker from the 90s.

Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, like cloud applications and collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

How to Develop This Skill

For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will, eventually, slowly but surely garner more traffic.

Note, however, that an increase in search traffic does not immediately imply an increase in revenue. But it’s a start for delving into customer conversion rates in the future.

2. Financial Forecasting

Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business and is not just reserved for the likes of listed companies providing financial guidance to shareholders.

Largely, forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required and ways to measure success. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done when included in business plans.

Advertising

However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses, which could potentially result in financial teething problems. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

How to Develop This Skill

Generally, it is easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It is a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how adjacent your operations are to what you have forecasted.

Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

3. Video Production Skills

The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, by 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5]. With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

How to Develop This Skill

Some ways to get started with using videos for your business would be:

  • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
  • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
  • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

As far as you get into achieving endeavours on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place.

Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout and may manifest in an unhealthy interaction between partners and employees as well.

How to Develop This Skill

Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly to maintain a balance between growth and your personal values.

Advertising

5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

How to Develop This Skill

Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it hit the right buttons of consumers being tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from incumbent retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

Apart from lifting off from what could have been your second-mover advantage, solidify your place with your business’ own first-mover advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region, unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that proves more viable than others. There’s always room for improvement in business from mature markets to newly emerging ones.

6. Honing Pitches to Investors

Stand out in a broad mix of budding entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch that can determine the acceleration of growth for your business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition and its market viability for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression and move on to another meeting.

How to Develop This Skill

Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition. From aesthetics to the body of clients you’re associated with, these contribute to how you’re perceived by prospects looking to buy.

Advertising

Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned to these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

How to Develop This Skill

Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction. By knowing what makes your target customers tick, their values, ideals, and behavior, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to be utilized into a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

8. Automating to Your Advantage

The need for efficiency is often the general problem new businesses aim to resolve across all markets and industries. Assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to instill the need for it.

Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

How to Develop This Skill

Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the holistic advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

9. Managing Millennials

Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

In leaner small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[8]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing t-shirts to work.

How to Develop This Skill

Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

Advertising

Offer Constructive Feedback

Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

Being constructive with feedback ensures that we don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

Instead of proposing a business that’s ambitiously and entirely disruptive to the supply or process chain in a respective industry, foster connections with other companies that cater to the same target customers as long as they provide a different service.

By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously through creative avenues for customers to utilize your products and services for a holistically improved user experience.

Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

How to Develop This Skill

Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

As the African proverb goes:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

More Tips on How to Succeed in Business

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next