Going out on your own is a big step. Whether you are driven by entrepreneurial spirit or the ultimate frustration of working for someone else, you’re going to experience a lot of mixed emotions. This blog is not for the independent wealthy or those that for whatever reason can live by “if you have plenty of money, you have plenty of options.” It’s for the often misguided yet determined souls that seek to build something on their own. This blog lends caution to those on the fence regarding entrepreneurship to have your ducks in a row and to have plenty of Rolaids.
Suppose your (as Scott Gerber say’s) ‘Real Job,’ is a constant struggle of working for what you perceive as basically a bunch of idiots. You frequently find that you are the odd duckling opposing group consensus regarding the path forward. Is it you or is it everyone else? Eventually you convince yourself (or your boss does it for you) that it doesn’t matter — either way you are on the way out. The one true thing about your Real Job involves a much more predictable and timely paycheck. Better get ready for this Real shocker. Going to work for yourself or starting your own business may not allow you to draw a check for while… maybe quite a while.
Can you go 1 or 2 years without taking a salary? Do you have the reserve to manage the cash burn required? Will you sacrifice years of savings which might include risking the kids’ college funds? Will you pile on credit card debt? Do you have a spouse that works to help alleviate the burn rate? Is your spouse buying the dream of you being self-employed?
I’ve been around only a few people in my career that stated that they have never failed at anything. I was not around them for long as I figured they were due at any time and in a large way. No doubt failure makes us stronger, smarter, and much more cautious leaders. Working for someone else and merely looking from the outside in about their decisions, lack of leadership, lack of focus, and so on has a whole new meaning when you are suddenly at the top of the org chart.
This can create a lot of anxiety regarding the potential to fail. Your decisions will directly impact your livelihood and that of those around you. Making statements such as “everything rises and falls on leadership” now takes on a whole new meaning. Thoughts of giving up and going back to a Real Job will occur more often than not. Some statistics show that 10% of start-ups make it and 10% of those make it beyond 10 years.
If you are new to sales, promoting, marketing, lobbying, and sometimes quite a bit of butt kissing – better learn to take rejection with a grain a salt. Building new leads and trying to get your foot in the door can be maddening at times. How about somewhere around a 1-2% return rate on all the calls, emails, and mail-outs that you make to potential customers? Some days much better; some days 0 but if you do not like rejection (and who does?) this can weigh heavy in the first few months. Hating rejection is a positive that will force you to develop better skills for reaching potential customers.
Building relationships takes time. With all the current methods of social media utilize Twitter, Facebook, write blogs, and plan on dedicating the time and resources to keep this active and engaging. Projections for 2011 show that Facebook will have over 500 million users and that Twitter will have well over 200 million users. Simply put, companies that are not managing today’s tools of social networking are not reaching their market potential. Now does this mean setting up a website, active blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account will have customers and investors lined up at your door? Not quite but it is the world we live in now.
That’s Enough Fear
Do not let this blog discourage you from pursuing life outside of a Real Job but proceed boldly with caution. Face the hard questions mentioned and discuss these fears with your partners, spouse, and team members. Get everything out in the open and you will have a much better chance at getting everyone pulling the rope in the same direction to manage the fears and work required for a start-up.