Your job is stifling, boring and exhausting. You are physically drained and sick of the office politics. You have learned everything you can from your boss and your colleagues. Your work has become repetitive and a slog.
The idea of quitting to become your own boss becomes more and more attractive.
Being your own boss suits a particular personality type and lifestage.
How do you decide whether it suits your personality? How will you know when you are ready for it?
How To Decide Whether Working On Your Own Is For You Or Not
Quite recently a close friend asked me to help her write a strategic plan as part of an application for a senior position in a government department. It was quite a stretch for me – I struggled to relate to the public sector work environment.
During the discussion, she gave me some background about the conversations she had been having with her prospective employers. There had been a serious, extended negotiation about her job title.
Because things like job titles matter to her, the idea of ever working for herself is out of the question. She would have to forego what is important to her – status and recognition, safety and security, systems and control.
How To Decide What Is Important To You At Work
To establish what is important to you, personally, at work, there are four questions you should ask yourself. In each case, whilst both options may apply, choose the option that is more applicable.
Ask yourself …
1. Do you prefer having power and authority over people OR being accepted as belonging to the group?
For people whose sense of self-worth is driven by the need for authority, becoming your own boss is a big sacrifice. The sense of belonging to your work group can be more easily replaced, by joining a club or a community service organisation, for example.
2. Which is more important – excitement and exhilaration OR a sense of safety and security?
Working for yourself can be exciting, particularly if you love what you do. If safety and security is very important to you, think carefully before taking the plunge.
3. Do you want to be recognised and respected OR be liked?
Recognition and respect is different for a home business. In a corporate environment it is often associated with a position. In a small business it is earned from customers when you provide excellent value. Being liked may not be important to you if you are a high achiever. But, in a home-based business, being disliked can be fatal if you want to grow your business. The more aggressive style that is admired in some corporate cultures seldom works with small business customers.
4. Would you rather let go and have fun OR stay in control.
This question is a huge opportunity for a small business, but potentially traumatic for people who have a need to be in control. To achieve success in your business, you need an element of uniqueness. Uniqueness comes from innovation and innovation comes from free thinking. If you can let go, think freely and have fun, you will be able to find the element of uniqueness.
To summarise, the ideal working from home person …
- Is independent and has less need for ego boosting.
- Is a calculated risk taker with a willingness to venture into areas that are less secure.
- Is driven by being respected for achievement not position.
- Is prepared to let go and come up with “crazy”, unconstrained ideas.
When Is The Timing Right To Take The Work From Home Plunge?
If you have decided that being your own boss is right for you, the issue becomes one of timing.
There are 3 signals that suggest that the timing is right for you to quit your job and move on:
- Your current job situation is unsustainable, emotionally, physically or economically.
- You are stagnating professionally. You are not learning and there is no longer as much mental stimulation in your work.
- A much better work opportunity presents itself – in this case, a work from home business opportunity.
Before you take the final plunge, make sure that there is no short-term benefit that you will be foregoing in your current job (such as a bonus or profit share). It may be worth waiting a little longer before quitting your position.
Finally, do not quit your job to become your own boss if you have substantial personal debt. Deal with the debt first, even if it delays the business in the short term.
The Key To Home Business Success, Like Beauty, Comes From Within
Succeeding in your own small business requires a significant change in mindset. You will have to draw on all your inner reserves to pull it off. Here are some issues worth thinking about.
Accountability In A Home Business
One of the main challenges of working for yourself is the loss of traditional accountability. What this means is that you will no longer be accountable to your boss and your colleagues about your performance. You will be accountable only to yourself.
It really helps to have a mentor, someone you can talk to about what is going well and not so well in your business.
Developing The Right Attitude
When you work for yourself you are very exposed. There is no organisational hierarchy to blame when things go off track. There is no maintenance department to fix things. There is no-one to complain to and no-one to encourage and motivate you.
Like beauty, your small business attitude needs to come from within.
These are some of the characteristics of successful home business owners with the right attitude:
- Resourcefulness – a “can do” attitude. If your customer asks you for something that doesn’t quite fit your current business model, change your model. Just ensure that it makes financial sense! Otherwise, find them someone you trust who will do it for them.
- Lack of any sense of entitlement. When you work for yourself complaining is pointless – no-one will listen. The world doesn’t owe you a living. It rewards people who provide great value. That’s it!
- Toughness and perseverance. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Often, the most challenging times come just before a business breakthrough – if you can stick at it.
- Self-belief. We all doubt ourselves from time to time. The key is not to let self-doubt derail everything. Think about all the things you have achieved before. Why should this be any different?
- Courage and integrity. I grouped these together based on my own experience. Often, maintaining your integrity takes courage. In the short term, it may also cost you. But, building a reputation based on integrity is priceless and quite rare these days.
Get Your Home Based Business Off On The Right Foot
OK, you have resigned and got yourself in the right “headspace”. Let’s get practical. Here are some things to deal with right away.
When you start your own business you will have a “target” sign on your head, particularly if it is an online business. Sadly, home business scams are everywhere. Trust your instincts. If it seems too good to be true it always is. If it promises riches overnight while you sleep, don’t be tempted.
Planning and budgeting are essential skills. If you don’t have a plan you have no chance of succeeding. If you have no prior experience of planning or preparing a budget, get some help from someone who does.
You can also start with our home-based business plan by filling in the form below this article. It comes with a video, which walks you through the planning process.
For many new home-based entrepreneurs, providing personalised service will be a new experience. There will be times when your customers experience a problem. It helps if you have a customer service philosophy.
2 simple customer service principles will ensure that your service beats 99% of your competitors:
- Under-promise and over-deliver. Never promise more than you can provide just to get the business. Your long term business isn’t worth it.
- Learn to say sorry – with humility. To stumble is human. Customers appreciate business people who admit their mistakes and commit to try harder.
One of the most common mistakes made by new small businesses is something I like to call “winking in the dark”. You know that what you are doing is great, but no-one else does!
To set your business up for growth, a good starting point is to identify and list all the promotional methods being used in your industry. Then, look at some methods used by other relevant industries that are less common in yours. They could be an opportunity for you.
For example, your competitors may not use radio advertising. You may be surprised to find how affordable and cost-effective it is.
Once you have listed the promotional methods you plan to use, add them to your budget with a schedule based on your planned revenue and cash-flow.
A few years ago I was a passenger in a vehicle in India. The driver explained the chaotic driving style as requiring 3 things – good brakes, a good horn and good luck!
Working for yourself is similar in many ways. You need a careful plan, loud promotion and a dose of good luck. We wish you the very best of luck. The other two are up to you!
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