It seems like everyone has an idea for a business these days and I am HERE FOR IT. The difference, though, between people who talk about starting their own business and those who actually do it is just that – execution.
If you’re sitting at your desk and dreaming about working for yourself, here’s how to fall into that second category and actually make it happen.
Give yourself a deadline (and tell people)
If there is one thing that I think makes a difference in business, it’s being action-oriented. Being biased towards action is a GAMECHANGER. If you say you want to do something, take steps to make it happen. There will always be reasons NOT to do it – you’re tired, bad day at work, it’s wedding season, you’re not sure where to start, etc. That’s how you get 2, 3, or even 10 years down the road and nothing has changed.
If you want to launch a business, you have to give yourself a deadline. I’m a big proponent of broadcasting that deadline, or launch date. Why? It gives you skin in the game. If you set a deadline but don’t tell anyone, there are no repercussions if the deadline passes and nothing happens. There’s no pressure. Put yourself out there and begin promoting your launch date to keep you accountable to making it happen.
Set a schedule
Launching a business is hard. Launching a business while working a full-time (or even part-time) job is SUPER hard. It takes a ton of discipline to come home from the office and sit back down to work rather than pouring a glass of wine and turning on Netflix. Not to mention turning down weekend plans because you know you have things you need to get done. That’s where the deadline is also helpful. If you know that you’re going to grind for 3 months and then it will be launched, it makes it easier to commit to a schedule.
Set a schedule that is realistic but aggressive. This is a short term sprint, not something that needs to be sustainable for years. If you need to get in 6 hours of work on your new business every day, wake up 2 hours earlier and work 4 hours in the evenings. Set up timers, reminders, and constructs to help you stick to a strict schedule so time doesn’t get wasted. You have too much to do!
Create an Action-Based Checklist
Now that you have a deadline and a schedule that is going to work for you, list out everything that needs to be done before your launch day. This could include building a website, sourcing products, creating a marketing plan, registering your LLC. Don’t get overwhelmed – this is going to be a long list, but that’s why you have an aggressive schedule that you’re going to stick to.
The key with the list is this – break all of those big “to-dos” down into action-based tasks. For example, staring at a blank screen knowing that you need to start “building a website” is DAUNTING. Seems overwhelming. Might be easier to just give up and lay on the couch. But, if you break all of those big projects down and know that the first step to building a website is buying a domain, that feels much more achievable. It also enables you to check off tasks when you have a few minutes of unexpected free time.
Break your entire list down into smaller steps. The list will be long, but you’ll move through it much more quickly. When it comes to each project, ask yourself “What is the NEXT thing I need to do to move this forward?”
Use the leverage you have within your job to make connections that may not be available to you when or if you decide to leave. This is especially relevant if your new business will be a similar industry or serve similar clients as your current job. Learn from your peers. Connect with your clients. Ask questions.
This applies outside of your current company as well. Use the time before you’ve officially launched to identify and connect with those in your community who could help you when your business is up and running. As always, in networking, lead with value. Understand how YOU can help THEN and approach in that way.
If you plan to ultimately run your business full-time and leave your job, the financial risk may be the biggest hurdle to overcome. It’s intimidating to jump in so completely without a safety net. I typically recommend giving yourself a 3 month runway to begin making money, so you need to make sure that you’ve saved enough or have a plan to cover expenses for however long you think it will take to begin to see profits.
While you’re still employed, start to think of your salary as business income. Set aside a certain percentage of your salary for your new business each month or each paycheck. This will give you some flexibility when it comes time to invest in your business.
Finally, lay the groundwork for your business launch several weeks before it’s time. The work won’t end on launch day, it is only beginning so you want to be prepared to continue your promotion through the pre-launch, launch, and post-launch phases.
In terms of your job, I would ideally leave some overlap from your launch day to leaving your current job (if that’s the plan). This gives you more stability financially while you’re working out the inevitable kinks in your business.
So, in your launch plan, be sure to include a strategy for how you’ll juggle both responsibilities in addition to a marketing and inventory management plan. Need some ideas for how to launch? Here are 6 launch strategies to ensure success.