If you have ever been employed, the fantasy of shouting, “Take this job and shove it!” at your boss has surely entered your mind at one time or another. But at this moment in Alberta history, if you still have a job you are probably very grateful.
After yet another announcement of lay-offs, last week from Alberta Health, Husky and Cenovus merging and now Suncor, those who hope for job security may be feeling insecure.
If working your way up a corporate ladder in oil & gas or putting your efforts into healthcare won’t save you from job loss, the writing is on the wall, you could be next! And if that happens what would you do?
You might think of taking control of your own job security and becoming an entrepreneur or even a solopreneur (when the business is YOU).
If plan B includes starting your own business, or if you have always dreamed of working for yourself, here are three important keys to consider before you burn the boats!
1. Do your research first!
For nearly twenty years, I worked as a trainer and business coach in the real estate industry — many agents didn’t realize that they picked such a saturated industry, not only here in Alberta, but I have seen the same in Toronto, San Diego, and most major cities.
A study by FORBES revealed that 42% of businesses that failed within 5 years admitted that they did not do effective market research first.
You will need to know if your idea is in a saturated space. Is there a real need for your product or service? Do you have what it takes to provide your idea better than everyone else?
These are questions that need to be answered honestly and pragmatically and there are several ways to conduct effective market research that will help you understand if you have a solution to a real problem
2 Find out what will it take to launch?
Once you land on a good idea, then I advise you to begin with a good business plan. This should outline the pieces that need to be included and combined to develop a well-rounded business. Gaps in your plan can be like potholes leading to crash and burn. You must be realistic about what needs to be accomplished and how long the preparation will take.
Creating an attractive brand, building a website, learning about online tools to help with finances, marketing, and client care; all the details can take months to understand and create!!
RBC VP of Small Business, Laurie Darlington, shared on a recent (Sept 2020) ‘Build Wealth Canada’ podcast one common thing that trips up small business success:
“Being Challenged in Business Administration / Operations”
Operations includes things like your intake process, checklists that need to be followed, the systems and processes which should be well-planned out and documented so that customers become raving fans of the way they are treated.
Very often, one tool missing is an effective CRM- Client Relationship Management system. When I ask business owners what they are using and how they use it, too often, owners have no idea what I am asking about, and clients are just dumped into a useless excel spreadsheet. This is time consuming and very hard to scale for growth.
If you are suspicious that you might have left some details out of the foundation of your business, I offer a very simple and free Business Assessment at SueStyles.com where you can rate each area of your business and see for yourself where the risky gaps are.
3 Where do you begin?
“Begin with what you have and start where you are at.”
Every solopreneur has skills and talents to offer that will open doors. Take stock of your collateral! You might be surprised out how many pieces are already within arm’s reach.
As you recognize what you have, you will also reveal what you still need.
For example: The first thing I always ask new clients is ‘how many people are on your list?’ This question gets them thinking about WHO they will be able to initially reach out to for their launch. Will their network support their service? And if they don’t have a large community already, we must go to work discovering just how they will be able to build a new sphere that will become customers.
These simple points will get you started off on the right foot, but what about making mistakes along the way?
If you are like me, you would rather learn from other’s mistakes than make your own! Although it isn’t always possible to breeze into success without climbing over your own stumbling blocks, there is a podcast I host “Hindsight’s 20/20- The Successful Solopreneurs Podcast,” that highlights what successful solopreneurs have learned as they look back — advice you can take and implement immediately.
Tune in and see what wisdom you might find for your own business:
If you are thinking about starting your own business, or if you have started but aren’t sure that you have all the basics in place, then consider reading my book about the five habits that drive profits, The Little Red Stick — What Gets Measured Gets Done! It’s an easy read that sets solopreneurs up for success!
If you need to fast-track your business education on a bootstrapped budget, The Successful Solopreneurs School of Business has a value packed 8-module course that starts with a simple business plan, goes through brand and marketing, and covers lead generating and how to manage a CRM.
If you will make the effort to start with these steps, then you will discover if starting your own business is the right choice for you or not.