When the owners of Letsema Holdings made the decision to close down their PR division, Kyla Derrick could have done one of three things: Panic, find another job (with her retrenchment package to sustain her while she did), or start something of her own (using her retrenchment package as seed money).
Having worked with entrepreneurial clients and under entrepreneurs, the answer was a no-brainer: It was time to become an entrepreneur herself.
“This has been my first entrepreneurial venture and it’s been terrifying,” she admits with a smile, because terrifying and exciting are close cousins, and if there’s one piece of advice she’s heard over and over again, it’s that if she can make this work, survive the tough times ahead, and come out with a sustainable business, she’ll never work for someone else again.
And while going it alone is always a scary prospect, for Derrick the support she’s received from fellow entrepreneurs has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Here’s her checklist for taking the plunge:
As you get started, let all of your contacts know.
Leave no one out, because you never know what synergies they might spot. “I did a lot of work for Offcentre Des!gn through Letsema, and the owners, Jo and Nathalie, were amongst the first people I contacted when I decided to launch my own business.
“Not only were they excited to strike up a partnership with me and add my skills to their client proposals, but they were happy to give me a desk in their offices. This meant I had a formal office to work from (which I would never have been able to afford), and two amazing entrepreneurs to share my fears and victories with.”
Treat entrepreneurship like a community.
“The most amazing thing for me was that no one said, ‘You’re doing what?’ when I launched my business. I was expecting people to be sceptical; instead they were incredibly supportive. They wanted to know how they could help, and if they could tell their clients and contacts about me.
I realise a lot of this is because of the way I have always tried to help my clients, colleagues and contacts, but going forward, it’s important to know that entrepreneurs are a community too. We help each other, and pay it forward. Right now this is really helping me, but I need to always remember to give back where I can too.”
Prepare yourself for the tough times.
“Right now I’m still in the euphoria stage of starting my own business, and I’m a bit overwhelmed by how supportive everyone is being. But starting your own business is hard, and I need to realise that some days will be amazing, and others will be really demoralising.
As long as I prepare myself for both, I’ll be able to persevere and build the business I want.”
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