Striking Out On Your Own

Many, many people sit at work asking themselves the question, why don’t I just quit the rat race and do my own thing?

The reason people don’t do just that is that it represents risk and uncertainty. When I was younger I used to believe it took a certain personality and set of characteristics to enable someone to take the leap into self employment. I still believe that, but less so. Over time I’ve come to believe it is also about how the risk is managed.

Moving away from the security of a steady income is scary. What happens if you fail to generate enough income. The answer is simple – go back into paid employment and settle things back down!

Starting a business is easy. All it takes is an idea, often based upon something you are passionate about. The hard bit is convincing others to purchase something from you. That is a complex, messy, time consuming and expensive process.

People say to me ‘I don’t know how to sell’. You don’t need to sell, however if its any consolation you sell every day. Others say ‘I don’t know how to market myself’, that’s also untrue. Again you do it everyday on social media, at work with presentations and negotiations and facilitation. You do it constantly in the community through advocacy, engagement with other people and organisations.

The challenge is that you will not be sure someone will purchase what you want to sell. Start small, while still employed. Turn an interest into a small home-based business. Work the evenings and weekends. It is amazing how much more tolerable full time work can become when you know you have something bubbling away in the background. Your full time income provides start up revenue and security. If your idea has potential, then one day you will be in a position to decide which direction you want to take.

Local councils and other organisations hold evening sessions for small business operators and entrepreneurs. Go to them. Listen, learn, meet others and share ideas. Don’t stress about someone stealing your idea. There isn’t anything you can think up that isn’t being considered, tested, trialled or actually in place by someone else, someplace. The secret to success is not in the idea, it’s in how well the idea is presented, marketed and executed. Do those things well and you will look behind you and see a highway littered with the carcases of those that could, but didn’t.

Cashflow management is equal to a good idea. Simply put, don’t spend what you don’t have. The greatest killer of a good idea and enthusiasm is poor cashflow management. When you are in debt or broke your brain is in survival mode. I don’t recommend that as a recipe for success. There are so many ways to achieve so many things in an affordable manner.

The author operates a small e-commerce store. At this stage it’s a paying hobby. It costs around $500 per year for online hosting and some basic marketing. It doesn’t generate much revenue, it’s not intended to do so at this point. It’s intended to become passive, retirement income. In the meantime, for a few hundy a year in stock, experience is gained, understanding and knowledge is accumulated. Sales are low at present however they cover the costs and it can’t send me broke. This is an example of exploring options, trying before committing, learning through experience. It’s a good way for you to start your own venture while enjoying the benefits of other, more predictable income.

The cost and barriers to operating your own business have never been lower. What was once viewed as a rebellious choice by many, is now viewed as normal. The so-called gig economy, along with people looking for income while retired, has moved many to set up their own business as one revenue stream and technology has created an infrastructure unavailable to earlier generations.

It’s not that you haven’t a sellable product or service, or that you cannot sell or don’t understand marketing. The one thing that holds people back from following their dreams is fear of failure; and the way to counteract fear is to minimise the risk.

If you want to talk about risk management in your business or organisation email John to arrange a chat.


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