Written by Professional Academy Management and Leadership Tutor, Kathryn Knights
Do you dream of setting up your own business one day and being paid to do what you love? Maybe you've toyed with jacking it all in and having a complete change of career. There's no reason why you can't fulfil your dreams. But how do you get there?
So, how do you start a business while working full-time? It can be temping to leave your day job, but doing so is a risky move. When you throw away your only source of income (with nothing else to take its place) you immediately put financial pressure on yourself and your new business. You panic and move from feelings of freedom to those of scarcity i.e. thinking that there will never be enough money for you to survive. So you take on the wrong clients, sell the wrong products or undertake the wrong projects. This can result in you hating the one thing you love (or used to love).
Here are seven ways to close the gap between today and your future dreams:
We are guilty of setting goals that we feel are achievable within our current lifestyle. However, if you want to achieve big then you need to set big goals.
Work backwards from your big goal and detail the main steps you need to take to achieve it. Factor in the time that each step will take as well.
When you have a plan you always know what needs to happen next and goals are much easier to achieve when you know what the next step is.
The mistake a lot of people make when starting a business is to appeal to everyone in the hope that this will give them the best chance of success. More often than not this results in the exact opposite. This is because you get filed in people’s mental junk drawer.
When people meet you online or face-to-face they try to simplify what you’re about so they can file you in their mind. For example, you might be filed as the wedding photographer lady or the website guru. You only get to go in one box – so if you project everything you will get known for nothing.
When you focus on just one thing two things will happen: firstly, people will think of think of you only in relation to your subject. Secondly, when people encounter the thing you do you will pop into their mind. Pretty quickly you will become the go-to person in your subject area.
So you think you have a great business idea and now you want to scale it. Before you do, make sure you have something worth scaling. Think about it like this: if you have a bucket with holes that you scale – you end up with a bigger bucket with more holes. So before you decide to hire more people or spend money on advertising, take a look at whether there is a market for your product / service and whether you have the basic processes and systems in place to be able sell to that market professionally.
Getting a business off the ground and keeping it running means you’re going to need have an income and that income comes through selling something.
When you first start up it can be tempting to lure people with discounted rates in order to get those first few pounds in the bank. But if you discount what you sell then you de-value what you have to offer and your client will see and think of your product / service at that discounted price and attach a lesser value to it.
Avoid going down the discount route. Instead either sell at full price or pro bono (providing something for free for the greater public good). If you provide your product / service as pro bono the client still recognises the full value of it. When you send the invoice to them you still include the full rate – you just include a note to say that it’s pro bono. The psychology behind this approach is that by doing this you drive home the full value of your work.
Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else. It’s hard to decline invitations or requests for our time. We feel it’s a negative response. But ‘yes’ and ‘no’ aren’t right or wrong. They’re directional – they steer you in the direction that will help you navigate to the right places. If you’re clear on your goals then you know which direction to take.
Learn to start protecting the gaps you have in your calendar. We need breathing space and gaps in your calendar allow you do just that. The next time someone ask you to go for coffee, don’t automatically say ‘yes’ if you see a space in your calendar. Your default position should always be ‘no’ rather than ‘yes’.
Any step you make towards your goal is progress and will propel you forward. Never see the actions you take as failure. There is always something to learn and which you can use to course correct. If you look back at everything you have achieved in life so far, it has lead to who you are today. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Failure leads to success – as inventor Thomas Edison demonstrated. He made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison replied, ‘I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.’
You wouldn’t miss an appointment with a client so making an appointment with yourself each week is a great way to keep yourself in check. Set aside an hour or two to reflect on what happened. What did you like / not like? What made you feel happy / unhappy? What motivated / de-motivated you? What did you learn about yourself? Use your reflections to help keep you on track – making adjustments as necessary for the following week.
If you need further advice, get in touch via LinkedIn.
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