Becoming an entrepreneur
Many of us dream of becoming self-employed and while not everyone is suited to entrepreneurship, those who are, sometimes find it hard to leave formal employment. Most people get used to the job security, income security, benefits and a relatively secure life that comes with employment. These comforts are easy to get used to and hence the difficulties in taking the step of faith into the turbulent and largely unknown life of self-employment.
Just browsing through the news or social media, the glamorous lives of entrepreneurs are everywhere, but the truth is, below the shiny surface lies years of toil, hard work, perseverance, persistence and constant learning. As such, no one’s journey is similar to another. All these factors contribute to the insecurity that scares most people away. But, if you have the determination and when done right, the move from employee to entrepreneur can be less bumpy than expected.
So, how do you know when it is time to make the move?
- When you have an idea that can solve a particular problem in the society
Most of the successful entrepreneurs in the world grew their businesses by attacking pain points experienced by people in their society. Entrepreneurship often starts with solving existing problems in a unique way. A scalable business idea is one which offers either goods or services to tackle the issue. Therefore, if you think you have spotted a problem and you have a scalable idea of just which solution would work best, then it is time to set up your own business.
- Your side hustle is growing
Millennials are said to be the side hustle generation. It is quite common to find employed people having existing businesses on the side which either supplement their salaries or utilises their other skills. Whatever the case, the side hustle can no longer be ignored. If your side hustle has been growing rapidly and is now demanding more time and attention from you, then it might be time to actually make it your full-time job.
- Your job no longer challenges you
A job is only exciting if you keep learning new things and expanding your skill level on a regular basis. You might be having a great job which pays you well but, it no longer excites you and changing jobs will not do that for you either. If your job seems mundane and repetitive and you feel like you need something exciting, then it might be a sign that you need to start your own enterprise.
- You think like a boss
Entrepreneurs are people who always spot opportunities and come up with ways of filling up the opportunities. If you are the forward thinker who is always seeking solutions to problems but for one reason or another, you current job does not have the ability to take up your ideas and the industry is also lacking the ability to solve the problem, then it might be time to go out and actually offer the solution. An entrepreneur thinks ahead and is always trying to find ways of implementing new ideas. Therefore, if you are full of ideas and see no chance to implement them in your job, then it is time to quit and implement the idea as a business.
So, now that you know what signs point you towards entrepreneurship let us look at ways you can achieve it
Changing gears from employee to entrepreneur
- Keep the discipline
When you are employed, there are basic rules of engagement such as working hours, keeping deadlines, honouring promises made to clients, among others. Most often than not, you will be reporting to someone or all these factors contribute to your KPIs. Well, as an entrepreneur, these skills will come in more handy than you think. Your clients will be your new bosses and they are likely to be more demanding than your boss. Therefore, unlike popular opinion, you might have to put in more hours and effort as an entrepreneur than you do, as an employee. To make it work, you need to carry forward the discipline you have.
- Think like an entrepreneur
As an employee, your worry is often around how to hit your targets. As a business owner, your worry is about how to scale up your business, how to keep the revenue streams flowing, how to run faster than your competitor, how to solve existing business problems and even how to move into the future. Well, if you have a vision of being an entrepreneur, you need to start thinking like the owner of the business and finding solutions to any problem. This will prepare you for the battle that lies ahead and give you the mental power to overcome challenges that are likely to crop up on the way.
- Develop your network
Businesses are built on networks. As an entrepreneur, you need clients, mentors, advisors and even financiers. Having a healthy network will help you have the necessary people in your corner when you eventually make the shift. Therefore, start making the right connections even before you quit your job and start your own business.
- Strengthen your side hustle
Moving from employee to entrepreneur can be taxing. It is even more challenging when you start from scratch as you have so many things to learn, little time to learn and a very limited experience to learn from. To make the transition smooth, it is advisable to start a side hustle and learn the ropes while you still have a fulltime job. Chances are, you will gain skills in your full time job which help you in building up your side hustle. With time, your side hustle will grow and when it starts demanding more time and attention from you, then you can quit your job and give your side hustle the attention it requires.
- Know that you will have to do it all by yourself
As an employee, you probably have specialised duties and responsibilities. Everyone around you has a job and this makes things run smoothly. As an entrepreneur, you might have to do everything by yourself, especially on the first few years. You will be the marketer, salesperson, accountant, administrator and even HR. You will, therefore, require a wide range of skills and you must learn how to juggle all these duties and responsibilities successfully. Multitasking is an important skill so start acquiring it now.
- Have a solid business plan
Quitting your job without a business plan is futile. It is important to have a clear idea of what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you plan on doing it. These things keep you focussed and help in shaping your plan on just how you are to achieve them. It is not enough to know that you want to start a business. You must be clear on just how to make it work.
- Have a schedule
Schedules may seem boring and repetitive but with so many things requiring your attention, a schedule will help you stay on course and focussed on the tasks at hand. A schedule makes you more efficient and deliberate about your time, which will then increase your productivity.
- Going the extra mile should be your default setting
As an employee, you might be used to just doing what is required of you and hitting your targets on time. Your job could be good but not great. As a start-up, you will have to convince clients that they should stick with you and that means going out of your way to do a really good job. You must have a constant hunger to go above and beyond what is expected to impress new and potential clients. So, go the extra mile while you are still employed and this will be much easier to do even on your own.
Moving from employee to entrepreneur can be an uphill task. The playing field is often different and the set of rules almost entirely new. But, if you have a burning desire to solve a problem and you are always full of ideas, you should definitely consider starting your own business. But, you must be disciplined, have a good plan and have the right networks in order to succeed.
Have you transitioned from employee to entrepreneur? What was your experience? We would love to hear from you!