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Starting your first business is a major life decision and taking the leap into entrepreneurship, whether you are going it alone or joining a franchise network, can be daunting, overwhelming and downright scary. Once you’ve decided on the type of business you want to start, there are a number of things you need to consider. While passion and enthusiasm are essential to when starting a business, you also need to think about more practical issues, which will put you on a firm footing.
Consider whether you need to quit your job
You need to be fully focused on your new venture, however your financial situation will affect how you approach it and quitting your current job may not be the best option. There are many stories out there about people who quit their jobs as soon as they start their own business and then encountered problems so it’s worth considering other options. If you don’t have regular income coming in from any other source then get a part-time job or find out if you can go part-time in your current job. Financial support from a partner or your family or relying on your savings will give you some leeway, but be realistic about how long this will last. Businesses don’t always make a profit in the first few months, so plan your finances carefully to make sure you’re not overstretching yourself. When you start a business, you need to be focused, so the last thing you want to be worrying about is how you’ll pay your rent.
Network left, right and centre
You’ve probably heard a million times before that networking is important for new business owners but you need to make sure you’re doing it right and you don’t just ‘network up’, which is a common mistake many entrepreneurs make. Networking with established entrepreneurs can bring a lot of benefits to you and your business such as learning from successful people or even finding a mentor but you also need to network with entrepreneurs on the same level as you. These people will be facing – or have faced – similar issues and can provide a useful support network, offering help, advice and support. It’s also important to network down. Even if you have only been running your business for a year there will always be someone just starting out. Remember the support you received when you started and share your knowledge and experience with others. Not only will they be more likely to support you and your business, they’ll also be helpful and useful contacts in the years to come.
Take time off
When you’re trying to get your business off the ground, it’s easy to lock yourself in a room and work all day and night. Learning to disconnect and take time away from your desk and your computer screen is as important as working hard. Downtime is important for your personal life and taking time out now and then will help you feel in control of your routine and will give you time to recharge your batteries which in return will allow you to come up with fresh ideas.
Ask for help
For some reason, there’s a belief among many entrepreneurs that asking for help is a sign of weakness. As a new business owner, there are times when you’ll find yourself in need of help or so you need to ask for support from other people. Many people believe that adopting a ‘fake it till you make it’ is what entrepreneurship is all about, however this is one of the main reasons why many start-ups fail within their first couple of years. Reach out to your network, friends, family or anyone you feel could help you and be straightforward about what you need. Not everyone might be able or willing to help but it only takes one person who can help you to achieve your goal.
In the end, you need to keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes and that the road to entrepreneurial success isn’t paved with gold. The important thing is to keep an open mind, learn from any setbacks and be persistent. Running your own business isn’t easy but it will help you take control of your own life and it will ultimately allow you to have a better work-life balance.
About the author
Claire Robinson is Managing Director of Extra Help which launched in 2010. Claire realised that there was a gap in the market in providing domestic help specifically to the elderly. Although Extra Help started by working exclusively with elderly and vulnerable clients, it soon expanded and now provides domestic and home-help services to working professionals, new parents and just about anyone who needs a helping hand. The early success of Extra Help proved that the business model worked and Claire realised that the business could work as a franchise. Extra Help now has franchised outlets across the UK.