The popular thing to do these days seems to be starting your own business. It’s a very strange feeling for me seeing many young people quitting the security of their day to day jobs simply because they don’t like it in order to become their own bosses.
I’ll never forget as a kid when other children were playing sports or video games, one of my favorite things to do was to set up my bedroom to look like an office and pretend I owned a business. I would take calls, write code on my 1 Gb hard drive computer, and set up meetings with potential clients. It felt like this was what I had always wanted to do with my life.
When I got to college, I was presented with a field that I had never considered, design and marketing, and fell in love with the idea of helping companies brand and represent themselves. Within 6 months of starting college, I was selling contracts to customers and using that money to support myself through school.
All of that was fine and fun until I hit the real world of paying bills upon graduating and realized that starting a business is not for the faint of heart. You don’t just stumble upon enough retainer clients to pay all of your company’s bills and paychecks. It isn’t just easy because you feel its a good idea or that it is what you’ve always wanted.
Starting a business is not for the faint of heart.
I love the idea that we can all run with our ideas and start amazing companies, but it’s important to weigh the cost and really decipher if it’s the life you want for yourself. Even though it’s trendy now, it sooner or later will not be, and some people will find themselves frustrated
Here are a few things that I think many people in their twenties should consider before jumping ship and starting their own business. I’d love to hear your thoughts, whether you’re considering doing this, or you’ve owned your own business for 35 years.
1. If you are looking for easy money or quick “passive” income, starting a small business might not be for you.
Now before I even begin on this topic, please keep in mind that there are some who have been able to structure, operate, and sell businesses that provide them passive income, but they are the exception to the rule.
I can’t tell you how many people in their mid and early 20’s that want to start businesses so they can escape the dreaded 9-5 and have mass amounts of income coming in, allowing them to travel and do all of the things our immigrant grandparents could only dream of. Those things all sound great, but the reality looks a lot more like spending late nights in front of a computer screen long after everyone else has gone to bed.
Fortunately, I was graced with parents that ingrained into me the idea that work, any type of work, should not be done with the mentality of just “getting it out the door”. I grew up knowing that if you wanted something, you’d have to sell yourself to the idea, work hard, and put in more work than the next guy. The idea they’d share was that the only thing that separated me from the successful crowd was not intelligence, strength, or resources, but simply being willing to put in the work necessary to accomplish goals.
Keeping in mind that hard work is only one aspect of running or starting a business if you are unwilling to work longer than the others and even lose some sleep, it might be better to just continue working in your job that guarantees a paycheck. The potential for financial and personal growth is great, but it comes at a high cost.
…if you are unwilling to work longer than the others and even lose some sleep, it might be better to just continue working in your job that guarantees a paycheck.
2. Timing can be everything.
I’ve heard some of the horror stories (as I’m sure you have) of young people wanting to start a business, jumping off the proverbial cliff without thinking, and realizing that they’d made a huge mistake. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be risk involved with starting a business, but there is also something to be said of those that create a gameplan.
Whether your plan includes multiple jobs, investors, loans, etc… make sure you have one! It can be devastating to be out in the business ocean to realize that your boat is full of holes.
Things that I found helpful were to secure 6-8 months worth of contracts before making the jump. Having that work along with pay helped get things rolling just a few short years ago, and made it possible to find new work while still working day to day on existing contracts.
3. If you have a problem with leadership, you might not be ready to lead.
One of the main things that concern me when I hear about young people pursuing business involves the way that they respect the current leadership in their life and the reasons they leave. Many of my friends initially left because of the bosses that they held previously, commenting on their lack of ability and the frustrating things that they would do to “spite” their employees. I’m sure that some of these bosses were indeed difficult to understand and serve, but I’ve noticed something remarkable in my experience.
You are more than likely going to feel the same way about the requests and communications of your clients that you currently feel about your boss because this sometimes isn’t an issue of a bad boss, but an issue of respect from you those who are over you. If you can’t respectfully serve the needs of one person and one company, it is going to be hard for you to do so for the needs of 25.
If you can’t respectfully serve the needs of one person and one company, it is going to be hard for you to do so for the needs of 25.
I’ve noticed that some of the greatest leaders in my life were first the best at respecting the leaders that were over them. They come to respect all people regardless of rank (good caveat for those that are looking to hire employees) and realize that emotions and feelings about something or someone can sometimes be misleading.
Not being willing to follow a boss tells me that a person might be resistant to growth and change. Those two things can either be your best friends or worst enemies when running a business – you get to decide.
Overall, starting a business has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I would encourage anyone with the heart to do the same, but it’s important to measure yourself to see if this is the right season or if you are coming into the prospect with the right state of mind and the right backing to accomplish your goals.