Last month, I decided to take a leap of faith when I left a steady paycheck behind to open up 33 Sticks.
One of the questions I get asked the most is, “isn’t doing your own thing scary?” The answer is NO, it’s not scary, it’s a tremendous amount of work, it’s stressful, it’s time consuming, but it’s not scary.
To help, I’ve put together a list of eight things that are “scary” about starting your own business but first, you have to understand that taking this path isn’t a weekend retreat, it’s very hard work and unless you are fully committed, it’s not something I recommend.
So, if you are ready to grind it out, then read on….
1. I don’t know the first thing about how to start a business
Getting a business setup is a lot easier than you realize.
- Most states have a simple online wizard that will walk you through the process.
- Online services like LegalZoom make it super simple.
- Be open about what you are doing and you will find a wealth of people who have done it before and are willing to help show you the ropes.
To be honest, the most difficult part of this step was choosing a name for the business.
2. I don’t know how to do billing or accounting
Do you know basic math? If so, then you can bill your clients and keep a simple balance sheet.
- There are plenty of online solutions like Harvest that make managing your accounts, sending invoices, and collecting payments super easy.
- Open a bank account and use their online tools or use a tool like Mint to maintain a basic balance sheet.
- Find an accountant that works with startups and pay for a quarterly review to make sure your books are in order and your taxes are taken care of.
3. I’m not a salesperson
Congratulations, that’s a good thing BUT you DO have to sell, otherwise your business isn’t going to be around for very long.
As a non-salesperson salesperson, here are my tips for finding and signing new business:
- Do amazing work. If you are really great at what you do. If you produce high quality, high value results, your work will do the selling for you.
- Use your network. Don’t be shy. Ask for referrals. Share success stories and ask if your contacts know anyone that can benefit from your services.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth. Going in with a low ball proposal will stink of desperation and people don’t want to work with desperate people, they want to work with confident people.
- Attend events. Be active on social media. Continually expand your network.
- Sell value. Tell a story to your prospects about how your services will provide great value to their business.
4. I can’t live without a steady paycheck
A very valid concern but once you realize that you are in control, it’s not scary at all, it just takes a little bit of discipline.
- When you setup your business bank account, setup both a checking account and a savings account. Get in the habit of putting away a set percentage of every payment that comes in. Take into account rainy days, taxes, and future investments you want to make as you determine a proper percentage to save.
- Examine your personal expenses. I found out that I was spending money on a lot of stuff that I really didn’t need.
- Establish a line of credit for when those lean times come along.
5. I can’t take the risk to get started
This one stops a lot of people from making the jump from full-time employee to freelancer but you can do things to minimize your risk.
- Depending on your current employment agreement, you may be able to do some moonlighting in order to build up a client list before you make the jump.
- Get a part-time job to help pay the bills.
- Or, just do what I did, take the leap with confidence that you will quickly sign a few clients and get things started.
6. I don’t know anything about marketing
That’s a problem but I would argue that you know a heck of a lot more than you think you do.
- You know what you are passionate about, talk to everyone who is willing to listen to your story.
- If you aren’t the creative type, save up a few hundred dollars and find some hungry college students to create a logo, design a website, and kick out a few document templates.
- My mom has a blog so there is no reason that you can’t create a blog and start writing about what you are passionate about. I’ve lost track of how many leads my blog posts have generated.
7. Legal contracts freak me out
Understandable, they freak me out too but fear not, you have options.
- Sites like LegalZoom have a solid list of basic business forms like non-disclosure agreements and consulting services agreements. Don’t reinvent the wheel, this has all been done before.
- Lots of freelancers are willing to share the forms they use, do a quick Google search and you will find lots of examples.
- If you really want something a bit more custom, find a lawyer who has experience working with freelancers and spend $1,000 to get some basic agreements created for you.
8. Running my own business will take over my life
This one is true but it doesn’t have to be scary or all consuming.
- The best thing I can recommend is taking on a partner to help share the load. This was the best decision I made. If you don’t have a partner, believe it or not there are online dating sites designed to hook up people looking for business partners.
- Being your own boss gives you flexibility. Take advantage of this by taking time out of the day to have lunch with your kids, catch up with friends, go for a walk in the park, or my favorite, take an afternoon nap.
- Ask for help. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Outsource things that make sense to outsource.
Opening my own business has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done. If you’ve wanted to take the leap into ownership but haven’t because you’ve been scared, find an amazing partner, realize that none of us have all the answers, we are all figuring things out as we go, and most importantly realize that IT ISN’T SCARY.