So you want to start your own business but are unsure how to do this? In this post I will list 3 different strategies you can use and also give you an idea on when to use it.
So you still have a “normal” 9-5 J-O-B like most people but want to quit the rat-race and become your own boss… I often get people who think that there’s a big threshold to starting businesses and it can be, but of the time it’s really just a decision! Once that decision is made – there’s no stepping back and everything becomes much easier.
DISCLAIMER: First of this is not some kind of magic bullet or shortcut method, I absolute recommend working hard at reaching your goals (my goal is getting more time, so I focus on setting online businesses up that scales well and does not require me much in the operation). These are JOB EXIT STRATEGIES, and they of course do reqire that you actually take action and do something.
So this post is not a online business model or anything, I think I’ve written a lot about business models in the past, they are overall strategies and I would generally advice you select one of them and adapt it to your own situation.
You’re currently working with something. Instead of being an employee you could simply be doing the same thing you’re doing now, but for different companies as a freelancer.
As a freelancer you’re typically paid a little more (because you’re more flexible and has to do all stuff regarding healthcare, pension etc yourself). The main point is however that you get much more control over your time. You can decide when to take on a new client, often also when to work for that client. And you can better structure your time and work on your own business ideas.
This was the strategi I used when I went from an employee to self-employed entreprenuer. It is of course not in all jobs that you can instantly go out and become a freelancer, but do not close that door without at least looking into the opportunity. The strategi allowed me to gradually cut down on freelance hours as I got more passive income in from my own businesses.
A few tips if you want to start as a self-employed freelancer.
Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. The more you specialize the easier you will find companies that will pay you for your services. Think about it. All companies that are looking for a freelancer want’s to have a given problem solved. There’ll be a big pool of people who could probably solve the problem, but wouldn’t you prefer to hire someone who specialized in just that problem?
This worked wonders for me, and I never have trouble finding a job when I still freelance (now down to only 3-4 months per year).
Do not sell yourself too cheap
Do not just charge what you’re currently being paid in your given job. There are always expenses with having an employee, so make some market research beforehand to find out how much you can actually charge as a freelancer
Focus on selling your results
In the “old world” when you needed to land a job, your resume with your educational background and past jobs was usually the main document to use. When you sell yourself as a freelancer, try justifying the cost of you and focus on the results you have provided your customers with (or the results that you have generated in your current job).
Get jobs through companies that got the jobs
When you start out as a freelancer, your biggest concern will be how to get jobs! You could perhaps do a deal with your old company to be hired on a freelance contract instead of being an employee but that will only get you your first client.
Another way is to go through consultancy angencies. Yes they do take a cut of your salary (in my industry that’s around 10%-25% not sure how this relates to other industries) but this is money I’m more than happy to pay them. Because they got something you don’t…. Clients. And you save all the time trying to do cold canvas calls to potential clients.
Notice that you are still selling yourself for hours just like you did as an employee. So do not get stuck in this strategy! Your end goal should probably be to create something that scales a little better than just selling hours. I know a lot of freelancers who just work the entire year. This will give them a little more in their bank account but they will still be selling their time and it doesn’t scale. Remember money is not everything – you need to factor in time and mobility as well.
Another thing to notice… When I’m saying freelancing, I’m not talking about doing jobs on elance.com, odesk.com or similar. I know a lot of people doing this, and you can of course investigate the opportunity, but let’s face it. On those portals you usually end up competing on price and you will typically loose to someone who will do it cheaper.
Bootstrap In Your Own Time
Second strategy is simply to spend time outside of your job to simply build your own new business that in time will give you enough money to quit your job.
This can be hard work and it will typically require a great deal of dicipline from your side as it will require a lot of effort over a long period.
However this is a common way of starting your own company and eventually quitting your 9-5 job. There are a few tips that can help you with this strategy.
Have a definite major purpose
Know why you’re working so much to be you own boss. What is the life that you’re reaching for. How should your life look like in 3-5 years?
If you don’t know why your are going home to work on your own business after you’ve just spent 8 hours in your “normal job” – then it can be really hard staying on track and motivated over a longer period and with the first sign of opposition you will most likely quit.
So define how your life should look in 3-5 years in 1-3 sentences, print it out and stable it to your computer or somewhere else where you’ll see it daily! Also read it out load at least once per day to keep it fresh in mind. You might think that it sounds like mumbo jumbo… but your brain will always look for the easiest solution and if it does not know “why” it has to do something, it will simply tell you that you do not have to do it. And working against your brain is REALLY DIFFICULT!
Divide work and leasure time
Know when your working on your own business and when you’re being a good spouse, father, friend etc. Make clear rules so those around you know when they should not disturb and when they can get some quality time with you.
This could be as little as setting up 1-2 hours each evening after dinner and the kids are put to bed (if you got any of those 🙂 as I’m writing this I have my second on the way :D).
People in the western world are typically watching way too much TV, so instead of spending time in front of the idiot box try spending that time working on your next business idea!
Get support from your family
If your family and friends are not supportive about what you’re going to do, it can be an uphill battle. So it’s always easier to take that battle up front and tell them why you are doing it (your definite major purpose remember?).
Here you can also agree on when you are working on your own business and when your father/spouse/friend etc.
If your still and got no family or strong commitments, now is the time that you should focus on getting something off the ground 🙂
Be more productive when you work
Because you do not have all the time in the world, you should focus on becomming more productive.
There are tons of strategies for this, I usually have an 80/20 mindset and only focus on working on the stuff that really gives value. But it could also try to timebox tasks and block outside disturbances like email, phone etc. If I’m working in a place with other people I also tend to put on earphones even if there is no music in them simply because it indicates to other that I really don’t want to be disturbed.
Just focus on getting the most out of the sparse time you got.
Save and Execute
This last strategy involves you working your ass off and saving enough money to give you a buffer period (could be 6-12 months). Then quit your job and live of the money you’ve saved.
This is not for everyone because the strategy assume that you can actually save money and not just spend all you get on your monthly paycheck. It also assumes that you are willing to take the risk of simply quitting your job without more than your savings.
This is a really great method for young people who haven’t started a family yet and who have not yet tasted French fine wines 😉
Cut down on expences
This might be obvious but if you just plan on this from the beginning you could perhaps add another month or two in the end. And in this situation time is probbly more important to you than that new LCD display!
This of course assumes that everyone is on the same pace. If you have a HMW (“high maintenance wife” – sorry ladies :)) then it can be an uphill battle to get her to turn down the spendings in the period. You know… once you’re used to getting a lot of nice stuff each month and that second car and all.
I know people who’ve sold there appartments and started living on a shoestring budget simply because they believed so much in their idea and their definite major purpose that it was totally ok for them (even though they were used to a much higher living standard before this).
Have a little extra buffer
Getting income streams up and running usually take a little longer than planned. Assume worst case and then some! Initially you should focus on getting even small income streams up and running instead of working on that one big contract/business idea that will remove all your financial worries in generations to come!
Cashflow is much more important. If you got 6 months worth of cash, if your just get a little cashflow in you could perhaps make that 12 months or even sustain you on a small budget! You can always spend more time optimizing your cashflow channels once they are up and running.
Believe strongly in your idea
This should be tied to your definite major purpose! You should be able to visualize your entire business idea in your mind and believe that it’s just about setting everything up and then see the money pooring in.
If you do not believe strongly in your idea, your brain (remember that from before) will try to sabotage you because it finds that little corner of doubt in your mind. You should be 112% dedicated to your idea and believe that it can be done while you are still having money in the bank (or under your mattress).
There you have…
Three different strategies, so get off your ass and start taking action :).
I chose one of these strategies and I know people who’ve used the other two. They can all be used to great success, but it requires that secret ingredient… YOU TAKING ACTION 😀