Millions of people are desparate to escape the 9 to 5 grind. One popular alternative is to look for a business opportunity that turns you from an employee into a self-employed entrepreneur running your own business.
There are many good reasons why this can be a wise move. Being your own boss means you can set your own hours. This can be very important if you have small children, or simply want to spend more time at home. Working from home can also save valuable time, if the alternative is spending two or three hours every day commuting back and forth to your work place. And of course, working for yourself also gives you the opportunity to make a whole lot more money.
In other words, being your own boss gives you that valuable commodity called freedom. It sets you free from the limitations of being someone else’s paid employee, and in return makes you responsible for your own future. As a self-employed entrepreneur you are free to set your own hours, establish your own work habits, choose what work you will do or will not do, create your own products, drum up your own customers, and do what you have to do to make those customers happy.
And perhaps most importantly, when you are self-employed you are free to set your own prices and make as much or as little income as you are able to make. You will not have to answer to anyone other than yourself, your suppliers, and of course, your ever-present Uncle SAM (for tax collection), after you become successful.
How to get started — Two Alternatives
There are two obvious ways you can go about starting your own business. The first way is to quit your day job and launch full bore into your new business. We’ll call this the “All or Nothing Approach”. The second way is to continue on with your current employment and develop a business on the side, in your spare time. We’ll call this the “Spare Time Approach”.
Depending on your point of view, taking the All or Nothing Approach can be either an act of bravery or just plain recklessness. Unless you are independently wealthy, planning and timing will be very important with this approach. That’s because once you leave your previous employment your source of income will be gone and you will have a limited amount of time to make your business work. It is “sink or swim”. And you can sink pretty quickly without a source of income.
So that means you should plan the changeover to self-employment very carefully. Every situation will be different. An acquaintance of mine was able to step from his quasi-government job into a private consulting business because he spent the last few months of his employment developing leads and contacts within his industry. When he went out on his own he had customers waiting in the wings and was able to more than double his income in his very first year.
But most of us are not so lucky. We do not have the quality leads or the specialized skills. Nor do most of us have the opportunity to use our present employment to build a launching pad of potential customers before we take off into the wild blue yonder of self-employment. Most of us are starting from scratch with a few vague ideas, a questionable set of yet-to-be-defined skills, and severly limited income. So our venture into self-employment had better take off within a few months or we’re likely to crash and burn.
That is why the Spare Time Approach is best for most new self-employed entrepreneurs, because it lets you test your ideas, develop your skills, and build your business slowly. If you are unsure about the products or services you intend to sell, this approach lets you try out different product lines and see how well they fit in with your overall objectives.
In many cases new entrepreneurs states that their first ideas are not realistic, or there is no market for the services they want to provide. Or they find they cannot charge enough to make any money providing the products or services they have chosen.
Choose your product carefully
Like all new entrepreneurs, whether you take the “all or nothing approach” or the “spare time approach” you should be very tight-fisted with your limited resources. That means do not invest any serious money in a product or business idea until you have checked it out thoroughly. The best way to “check it out” is to:
- Talk to other entrepreneurs who are already selling the product or service.
- Establish the credibility of the product or service provider (person or company).
- Make sure the company provides on-going support for their product(s).
- Make sure there are no hidden or unexpected costs (such as franchise fees) that will eat away your profits.
This applies whether you are looking at an online product such as an MLM or affiliate marketing opportunity, or a more traditional product or service aimed only at local customers. But whatever business or product you decide on, you must be willing to put in a few months of hard work at the beginning until your business has picked up a little steam and is, at least, generating enough income to cover the expenses of running it.
In other words, work your butt off until your business is self-supported, and then you could start looking at ways to expand in a way that would generate even more income, if not a profit that will give you a little stipend until you can collect a full-time income. Then you can quit your day job.
As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, your choice of products is crucial to your success or failure. Many products are simply bogus ideas with no hope of working. And many others are designed to produce maximum profits for their creators, and minimum profits for people like you and me who sell them. So no matter how hard you work, or how committed you are to being successful, if you choose the wrong product you will be operating at a disadvantage straight out of the gate.