It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon in August. All over the Bay Area people are out having fun in the sun. Me, I’m just sitting here trying to work. It’s not going very well. I’ve spent the last half hour fixated on a couple of hawks gracefully riding the warm air currents above the majestic coastal redwoods. It looks like fun. Sigh.
My wife (also working) just texted, “On my way home. What’s for dinner?”
Welcome to my life – the life of a boss, a small business owner. Not what you expected? Me neither. But I’ve been at it for 11 years and it’s a little too late to backpedal now. The door doesn’t really swing back the other way, not after that long. At this point I’m the only one who would ever hire me.
I know how sad that sounds but don’t cry for me. I’m actually pretty content. It’s just that there are a few things I sort of wish someone had told me before I pulled the plug on a lucrative executive career and jumped to the other side – you know, the one where the grass is always greener.
Would it have mattered? Probably not. Nevertheless, here are 10 things I know now that I wish I’d known then.
Self-discipline – what’s that?
Even after decades in the corporate world, the amount of self-discipline required to work entirely on your own – especially at home – was a real culture shock. Forget about forcing yourself to work; forcing yourself not to work is even harder. It takes real discipline not to be on 24×7.
The expenses really add up.
The Fed says there’s no inflation. I want some of what they’re smoking. Health insurance, self-employment tax, income tax and payroll tax alone will eat you alive. Federal, state, local – all the bureaucrats have their hands in your pockets.
You become the house slave.
It doesn’t matter how much you work or how many X chromosomes you have. If you’re the one that works at home, you’re the one that gets stuck with most of the housework. Don’t ask me why; that’s just the way it is.
It is lonely at the top.
What I miss most is the camaraderie, the relationships, the friendships, going out to lunch or for drinks after work with the gang. My dog is great but she just lies there.
There is no safety net.
Everyone who works in corporate America should thank their lucky stars that, with rare exception, no matter how badly they screw up, someone is always there to bail them out. Even if you get fired you can go somewhere else. When it’s your gig, you work without a net.
It is way harder than it looks.
Maybe your passion is marketing, accounting, recruiting, engineering, design, web development or cooking. That’s nice. Now you get to wear all the hats. You can outsource some of the work but you are still the chief everything officer. Running a business is harder than it looks.
There’s nobody to dump on.
You know the old expression “$#*! rolls downhill?” When you’re your own boss it’s as if there’s an enormously powerful fan at the bottom of the hill that blows everything right back at you.
It’s a thankless job.
I guess everyone gets a charge out of being recognised for a job well done or getting a bonus for exceeding expectations. It’s like hitting a homerun or scoring a touchdown when you were a kid. Patting yourself on the back is just not the same.
It still feels like work.
This may sound a bit naïve but you’d be surprised how many people get it in their heads that working for themselves is going to be different. It never occurs to them that it will still feel like work … because it is. You still have to do everything you hated about your job and then some. Surprise.
You may end up working for a loser.
There’s really no way to sugarcoat this so I’m just going to say it straight out: everyone isn’t Bill Gates. Business success requires troubleshooting, problem-solving and decision-making skill. It takes perseverance, self-motivation and guts. It takes a lot of things that most people don’t have.
Still, there’s something to be said for experiencing all that on your own. I mean, who am I to deprive you of all the pain and frustration? Besides, there’s an awful lot of fun and fulfillment, too. Good times, bad times. Yin and yang. That’s life and, you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I take it all back. Working for yourself is a blast, a trip, a walk in the park. Go for it.
My work here is done. Time to start on dinner.
Going It Alone In Business? 5 Reasons That’s A Really Bad Idea
Being a solopreneur sounds great, but it’s actually a poor choice for your business.
When we read about Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and all the other business giants – we immediately see a single champion. Much like old literature traditions where the hero triumphantly wins alone, our legends in business are often portrayed as the singular hero.
Steve Jobs reigning over Apple, Bill Gates towering over the giant that is Microsoft and Richard Branson stylised in his cape throughout the veins of Virgin – this kind of mythology and idealisation of the single hero in business has spurred a new wave of entrepreneurs who call themselves “solopreneurs.” We idealise the entrepreneur who does it alone and doesn’t need a team or support.
If you’ve been doing it alone or aspire to become a solopreneur, let me share with you five reasons to not be a solopreneur – and why the myth of any singular hero, whether in literature or business, is a misnomer and will only hold you back from having the most significant successes.
1. You’ll become a jack of all trades and a master of none
When you are a solopreneur, it’s practically impossible for you to master every skill needed to substantially grow.
Running a business takes a lot of capabilities: Mapping out content, creating it, sharing it, building a tribe, sending out emails, doing sales, attending events and growing the network, coaching, consulting and building out products is a small list of what a profitable business requires.
If you’re weak in some of these areas, it will hamper your business growth and fun.
Related: The Foundations Of Growth
Trying to do it all will soon see you doing low-level activities that pull you away you from making sales, doing projects for your high-end clients and doing the things that help keep the business growing.
2. You can’t scale or grow
Business strategist Jay Abraham says there are only three ways to grow a business. You either get more clients, increase the cost of each transaction or you service your clients with more products. Two of these methods will mean more work.
If you increase clients or increase the number of products you sell, you will most likely need to increase your output.
Since there are only so many hours in a day, you’ll either become your own bottleneck and slow business down – or decide to outsource some of the tasks to your team and ensure business runs smoothly.
3. You won’t have time to do everything you want to do
When you’re overworked and doing it alone, you have no one to relieve the pressure. You have no team to support you, and you have no partners who can take some work off your plate. That means when there are emergencies, you won’t be available.
If a client needs you, your kids need you and a new client wants to pay you a lot for a new project – you’ll have to decide which is most important.
While having a team may not save you from making hard decisions, ideally you aren’t so thinly spread out that you find yourself saying no to more clients, family emergencies and serving current clients to the best of your abilities.With a team, you’ll be able to free yourself more, and you can say yes to more opportunities.
4. You’re more vulnerable to mistakes
Imagine if didn’t have spell check your documents and emails. Or what if this magazine didn’t have editors and any article got through? I’m sure you’d agree, the quality would be lost, and it’d likely result in many lost customers.
In my life, I’m lucky to run a business with my wife and my team. Having a team helps me to not only “cut once and measure twice,” it also relieves some of the pressure to be perfect. It helps me to do my work, knowing my team will help me, and that inspires me. Doing it alone would be too stressful.
Having a team will allow you to call upon a support network, hand off jobs and have an extra set of eyeballs when you’re delivering a service.
If you’ve aspired to be like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington or any highly successful entrepreneur – take some time and study them and you’ll find they love building and being a part of a team. Soon you’ll find out all these legends have a team, an incredible support system, and they don’t do it alone.
5. You can’t ever sell your business
In most entrepreneurs’ minds, the idea of selling isn’t there until decades after starting the business. But, it’s something that if given the opportunity most of us would do.
Even if you wouldn’t sell your business, isn’t nice to know that if you wanted you could take your business and get paid one lump sum equaling years of work?
Or if you don’t want to sell your business, maybe you want to step out of business but collect payments and keep it in the family – well, if you’re a solopreneur it’s tough to ever to work yourself out of a job.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Start This Business With Zero Advertising Budget And No Need For Premises
What do we need to do to make our chances of entrepreneurial success as high as possible? Is it possible to build and position a business that has the highest statistical chances of survival? How would we even go about building such a business? Financial Freedom Project seems to have the answer.
What are the causes of most business failures?
When it comes to business failure in South Africa, the numbers aren’t optimistic. Some of the more common reasons for business failure include:
- Start-up funding
- Ongoing support
- Lack of new business to sustain growth
- Admin time / costs associated with running a business
- High cost of equipment / premises
- Advertising budget
- Cost of personnel labor
- Legalities of employment contracts
- Costs of credit
- Market experience
- Competition within the industry
- Current market conditions.
With the odds stacked against you, what type of business could you start that offers you:
1. Minimal start-up funding
Consider minimal start-up funding requirements to mitigate as much risk as possible and make start-up as easy and quick as possible.
We need to go as low as less than one month of one month’s average salary as so to be able to start this business on the spot. Let’s make our criteria less than R10 000.
2. Mentor/ Trainer support
For support and experience we need to have easily accessible communication methods with a mentor / trainer i.e. WhatsApp and skype.
3. Access to a market full of customers with unlimited spending ability
Want a colossal market, how about an estimated 5.3 Trillion Dollars a day?
4. No need for an advertising budget
Maybe a business where customers come to you without advertising because they want what you have. Let’s be ridiculous and put a zero advertising budget.
5. Minimum paper work / admin requirements before and after sales
Let’s aim for no admin and have everything processed and stored online for absolute minimal ongoing costs.
6. No premises required
You can work from anywhere at minimal cost and only need one computer.
7. No employees required
This business must be able to run as a “one man show” as to exclude all labor costs and employment legalities. As in previous point, let’s aim for one person to run this business and internet to stay connected to the world.
8. Little competition
This industry offers the least possible competition between participants.
9. A industry with no “seasonal times” so you can make money all the time
To get a never ending supply of opportunity we absolutely have to be a part of the global supply and demand system.
10. A proven concept
This will be outlined below.
What’s the business?
Financial Freedom Project provides you with a long-term financial freedom by utilising financial markets. The Financial Freedom Project is a results-based wealth creation training and mentorship programme that has start-up capital requirements of only R4 000 to begin accessing markets. The course requires only 3 days of your time and offers unlimited course re-sits.
For more information about how you can work with Financial Freedom Project visit financialfreedomproject.net or call them on 010 020 5699 for further info.
BrightRock’s 5 Entrepreneurial Tips For Start-ups
Schalk Malan, co-founder and executive director, shares five tips that he says were instrumental to BrightRock’s success thus far.
After six years in business, needs-matched life insurance player BrightRock is widely regarded as the fastest growing player in its segment. By the end of 2017, they have achieved an annualised premium income of of over R1.1 billion and a year-on-year growth of 62%, relative to the industry’s growth of 8%. Schalk Malan, co-founder and executive director, shares five tips that he says were instrumental to BrightRock’s success thus far:
1. Get the right people together
It all starts with a shared goal to make a difference – in our instance, we shared a vision to change the life insurance industry through a unique, needs-matched product that would make BrightRock stand out from the crowd. We ensure that this vision is embedded in the actions of each and every one of our employees by encouraging a collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit, which in turn continues to enable us to drive the business forward.
2. Always put your clients’ interests first or build products that really create value for your clients
We put clients’ interests first by designing a product that tracks the changes in clients’ financial needs over time, so they pay only for the cover they actually need. It’s more cost-efficient and sustainable, because we strip out wasted cover to deliver premium savings. In doing so, we also create more value for our clients. But it’s not just the product that puts clients’ interests first:
By communicating our cover in simple, plain language without intricate terminology and clauses, our clients are empowered to understand what they signed up for. This principle of client-centric design can be applied in any business.
3. Play on a differentiated playing field >>> Stand out from the crowd, create your own niche
BrightRock operates in a competitive and well-established market, so we understood we couldn’t compete if we simply did things the way they’d always been done. We created our own playing field with new rules, where we differentiate what we do in every facet of our business. This is done on various levels – from our highly advanced product and systems architecture; to having the best claims definitions in the market; to offering a high touch; personal claims experience; personalised documentation; various initiatives offering support for independent financial advice; to our content-led consumer marketing strategy.
Related: Bright Futures
4. There will be twists and turns, no new business perfectly follows the original business plan
Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that you will need to constantly adapt and make changes to your business plan to stay at the top of your game. This needs to be done without compromising on the reasons why you started your business. One of many examples of this in the BrightRock story is that we originally had envisaged a Johannesburg-based head office. These days, we have a large contingent of our staff based in Port Elizabeth – delivering cost efficiencies and service improvement to our servicing model, much to the benefit of our clients.
5. Never give up
In the beginning of any new venture, it is hard because many people doubt you. We were told we were nuts to leave successful careers to start something new and take on the big boys. That doubt can be crippling if you let it be. You’re constantly watching the cash flow and new business numbers and need to recruit and motivate people based on a promise of what the business will become. There will be many sleepless nights and dark-hours-of-the-morning butterflies-in-the-stomach, but just keep going – your perseverance will eventually pay off.
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