The current economic downturn means that there’s no such thing as a secure job and, with the threat of unemployment looming over many businesses, people are deciding that now’s the time to take the reins. Becoming your own boss and starting your own business is a big move to make, but can bring its own rewards. It might not offer the security of a regular wage, but it does give you the chance to do things your way, choose your hours and involve yourself in something you really care about.
So, how do you decide whether the time is right to make a change – and what are the first things you need to do?
Is it an age thing?
When it comes to timing, there’s no such thing as the ‘right’ time and it seems to have nothing to do with age - inspiration can strike at any time. Michael Dell was still at college when he started Dell Computers, Steve Jobs was in his early 20s when he co-founded Apple and Bill Gates dropped out of university to start up Microsoft. Even familiar faces such as Richard Branson had to start somewhere; he was a teenager when he opened his first record shop above a shoe retailer in London.
However, at the other end of the scale, you’ve got people like Wally Amos, who started Famous Amos Cookies and Harland Sanders was 65 when the notion of Kentucky Fried Chicken looked like a good idea. So the message is that age is no restriction either way. But how do you know if that nagging doubt in your current career is really the basis for entrepreneurship?
If you’re thinking of going it alone, then you need to ask yourself some big questions:
● Do you find your current job so dissatisfying that you’re prepared to leave it?
● Do you think the economy has shifted in your favour; could you make the most of the opportunities available to start up entrepreneurs?
● Do you have a business idea that you are passionate about?
● Can you see how to achieve your business goal?
● Do you feel undervalued in your current job?
If the answer’s ‘yes’ to all of the above, then it might be time to take the plunge. You don’t have to throw in the towel immediately with your current job. In fact, it’s a smart move to use that as a financial buffer to see you through the early days of your new enterprise. But just because you’re still doing the 9-5 doesn’t mean that you have to wait to put the wheels in motion.
The first thing you’ll need is a business plan. It needs to take into account your product, your customers and your anticipated revenue. The core of all this boils down to accounting and while it might be pleasant to sit and dream up an attractive logo, it’s the numbers that are the most important. Keeping a close eye on your accounts will inform every aspect of your business, from marketing campaigns to what you can pay yourself, so you need to stay on top of them from the start. With an accountant being an expensive luxury, it’s best to invest in accounting software supplied by companies such as Intuit.
Intuit software is easy to use and doesn’t require an accounting background. QuickBooks is the most popular software of this sort in the world and, with its user-friendly approach it’s easy to see why.
Too many businesses fall at the first fence, because the numbers don’t add up. Stay on top of your accounts and become the exception the rule.