What you need to know about starting your own business

By Soulla Lindo

So you’ve decided you want to be your own boss. You want to set your own schedule, you want to call the shots and you definitely want to reap the rewards of your efforts. You’ve already got the basics covered:

Great idea: check.
Business plan: check.
Market research: check.
Competitive analysis: check.
Business registration: check.
Office supplies: check.

But before you go any further, here’s what you really need to know about starting your own business—the details that people never tell you.

Starting a business is a lot like getting married. In order for it to be successful, it requires love, commitment, effort, sacrifice and boatloads of patience. You’ll likely experience the honeymoon period when you start your own business—it’s new and exciting, with endless possibilities. But when the honeymoon phase is over and reality sets in, you need to be prepared for the dedication it takes to make it successful. You’ll learn as you go, and you’ll certainly make mistakes, but if you’re really committed (and adaptable), you’ll grow along with your business to become a solid partnership.

It’s staggering to think that approximately 50 percent of new businesses fail within the first year, while roughly 90 percent fail within the first five years. But the truth hurts. People are often not prepared financially to make the leap into entrepreneurship and haven’t prepared ahead with enough of a cushion to fall back on. Don’t expect to make a profit in your first year, or even your first three years, for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, many new businesses do make a profit from the onset, but you shouldn’t go in with that mindset because you will likely be disappointed. Make sure you’re comfortable enough financially before you start, in order to put in a good solid effort.

Stay motivated during the slow times. Undoubtedly, your new business will experience ups and downs. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, use that time to grow your business and your network contacts. Engage in social media, attend conferences, and plan coffee meetings with your mentors and networks. Essentially, do what you can to get the word out about your business.

And finally, if I can offer one more important piece of advice, don’t start a business because you need something to do. Don’t do it because you’re unhappy with your current job. Don’t do it for the money. Do it because you’re passionate about it. It’s the only reason that will keep you going during the hard times.

Being your own boss definitely has its advantages, but being prepared before you take the plunge can help make all the difference. Good luck!

Soulla Lindo is a communications manager, small business owner and blogger. She has worked in a variety of internal communications, public relations and website management functions. Soulla is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and holds a Corporate Communications Graduate Certificate from Seneca College. Her favourite office supply is the Post-it Note—which she couldn’t live without.

By Adam

November 23, 2011