Thinking of firing your boss?
In today’s ever-changing professional world, there is no such thing as job security. If the end goal is financial freedom and personal achievement, there are ways to keep the head out above the water.
So why am I doing this?
Once long ago I was employed, working for a company in downtown Calgary. That morning, I went to the office as usual. The controller and the HR director were waiting for me. They asked me to follow them to the board room. There were my belongings in a box… Before I realized what was happening I was asked to leave. It wasn’t about getting fired. I was fired. I didn’t see it coming.
I have to say: that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And if I could go back and make it happen faster I would. But at the time I wished I had a plan. I wished I knew where to go from there. As the saying goes, what you go through, you’ll grow through. And running an accounting firm in Calgary is one of my biggest achievements.
And why should you care?
Maybe you can relate to my story. A side business would have given me security, being able to help others…
Even if you are happily employed and love your current employer (nothing wrong with that) having other streams of income provides the extra security that allows you to concentrate on your job rather than worrying. People smell fear like sharks smell blood. When company politics start bothering you, people notice and take advantage of it
I receive job applications and talk to more and more people that are laid off, are worried they will be soon or looking for a new opportunity. They have potential. I see people with potential written all over them. But potential doesn’t pay bills. Potential is worthless if it’s not serving you. I’m hoping that I can steer something in you, something that puts you in front of your potential and shut down your inner doubts. So you can start using them. I have the feeling that this is not just a downturn in the economy. It may well be a growing trend. That market will favor independent, part-time contractors and hustlers.
And if you do want to start a business I have questions for you:
Why would you want to start a business? Why would you want another stream of income? And your WHYs need to be bigger than your BUTs. I want to be able to afford to take care of my family, sleep better at night and not worry about bill payments, be able to volunteer, help my community, put money away for my children, and be able to work at my full potential… BUT…
I wanted security but didn’t want it bad enough to get out of my comfort zone. My but was too big, bigger than my whys. I learned it from little children; I ask myself that question quite often now: why? So I’m asking you the same question. If you are like me you’ll put it in writing. Have two columns, one for your whys and one for your buts. I always have a small notepad on me. Some people write on a board where they cannot miss to see it. The board is more visual, you can pin pictures, fabrics, flowers, newspapers, anything related to your idea that can inspire you.
Corporate politics doesn’t always remunerate hard work, too much bias. Productivity is not in everybody’s best interest. Especially in big corporations, everyone has their own agenda not necessarily aligned with the shareholder’s interest. So things happen.
Start with the idea. On another page or board, write down things you are interested in, tasks you perform at work, things you do for friends and family. Listen to your pains. Great things begin with pain. Then narrow it down to 1 thing you enjoy doing to help people. Keep your eyes off of the money for now. They say focus on helping people; then money comes without you knowing. I believe in that. And think outside the box if needed. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, as it takes time and money to educate the market on new ideas. You can provide an existing service and do it better, or offer more convenience.
Evaluate your skills core expertise – love what you do. You will be able to sell it with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious. Match your expertise with the market demand. Keep in mind that you can learn any new skills or tasks if you put in the time and effort.
There is more exercises involved in coming up with the idea but we can make it a posting of its own.
Once you come up with the idea, think about the structure. That’s another topic that can be expanded but I’ll make it short. Start as a sole proprietor. You sell your services and at the end of the year, you declare it on your T1 personal income tax returns. And as a sole proprietor, you may or may not need a big investment to start.
Be sure you respect a non-competing agreement you may have signed with your employer if there is one. And you may not want to start telling everyone in the office about your side venture.
Another thing to consider is if you want to start alone or with a co-founder. I heard great things about co-ownership. I’ve seen bad things about co-ownership. Just like in a marriage, you have to start on a good foundation, be in it for the right reasons, and give it your all.
If you choose to buy an existing business or a franchise, that gives you a head start but that comes at a price. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee. Some customers will likely leave with the previous owner. You buy a proven system but there is a lot of more to consider.
If you are willing to put in the effort and do things other people are not willing to do, a miracle happens. You become lucky. This is restricted when your only source of income is employment income.
As a personal preference, I like selling services instead of a product. So you don’t need to invest in inventory shipping or storage.
Pricing is another challenge that we can discuss in a separate post. But if you do it for less, let your customer know you are doing them a favor. People tend to think cheaper is cheap.
It’s never too early or too late to start a business. You can spend months, years planning to start on the right foot. But there is a great chance that reality will be far from how you plan it. You learn as you fall and pick yourself up. Don’t wait to have the perfect business plan, the big office, or enough money. Start slowly and invest the money you have made, learn along the way.
I prefer a soft start while you are still employed. You don’t have to quit your day job. But you have to quit your employee mindset. If your customers need to tell you what to do: they can find someone to do it cheaper. Be proactive and offer to do more than is expected from you.
As for going full-time, there is no perfect timing. And not everybody is supposed to be a full-time business owner. But if that’s you, take the lowest income of the last 6 months and evaluate if you can live on that income? You have to consider your savings. Can you pay yourself after you pay other expenses and you have about 6 months worth of expenses saved up. Talk to your loved ones so they know what to expect.
You don’t need money to start
There is a lot out there that you can start with little or no money from your kitchen table after work. Invest in educating yourself. Take advantage of open learning courses that are free or almost free. I love Google. I don’t need to know everything; I just need high-speed internet. Money can make it easier, but if you don’t have the money you are just going to work harder. You are going to invest more time.
You don’t need to do it alone
Find a mentor. You may not have direct access to one. Find somebody who is where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years. You can contact him and tell them how much you look up to them, what an honor it would be to do something for them, learn from them, help him. Offer something for free. Don’t make it insulting. If he is a designer you can send a sketch of your work. And ask them to use it if they like it or ask you for changes.
If that person is in a different city, country, reach out to them and keep in touch. If they don’t reply, follow them online. Learn how they did things when they were where you are at the moment…
Reach out to people who are selling to the same customers you’re going after but are in other businesses.
Find a group of like-minded people to meet and brainstorm with on a regular basis. Share and ask questions. Don’t worry about people stealing your idea. There are a lot of ideas out there. An idea is worthless without execution. Before Facebook came along, there was MySpace. You can’t compare them today. You can be the second on the market and be the number one. Don’t be afraid of telling those people what you are doing. But if you’re developing a product that needs to be patented, you need to hold on to the details until you have the patent.
Sliced bread was invented over a decade before it became popular. The man that invented it couldn’t take it to the next level. Wonder bread did. And the rest is history.
Uber is big but there is still space on the market for small players. They’re making millions of dollars.
SALE SALE SALE
This is a part that is fascinating to me these days. No matter what business you are in you’re going to have to sell. Reach out to people you know. Who are your customers, where do they hang out, (online or in real life) who do they listen to, who do they follow, what do they like, where do they go before buying from you, where do they go after buying from you? These are questions to answer.
People will buy from you if they like you, trust you. You can make them like you if you give them more than they expect. Listen to your customers so you know what they need and want. Learn from your competitors, leaders and pioneers of your industry.
Offer your service for free to leaders in your community in return for their honest testimonials and mentorship. Depending on what you sell, you can ask for it in writing, video, picture… There are starters, willing to be the first to try something new. If they like it, they will surely tell all their friends and followers. Some people like to leave the testing to others. They feel safer buying it after it’s proven. Don’t spend too much time and energy trying to convince them.
When people feel pushed, they will not buy even when they need to. Present your services and let them know you are available to help.
Action is the name of the game; Prospect, cold call, grind. If you want to test it, get it out and listen to the reactions. Everything is risky but it doesn’t have to be a big risk. For some of us, even engaging a stranger is uncomfortable. But I hate comfort because it doesn’t pay bills.