Many of us have dreams of entrepreneurship. Thanks to the Internet, smartphones and other technological wonders, it is easier than ever to start your own small business. Whether you are selling handicrafts, providing professional services, or offering consulting services, it is possible to start a small business fairly quickly and easily. However, there are pitfalls associated with being an entrepreneur.
Here are 5 pitfalls to avoid as you start your small business:
It seems ideal: You can be your own boss and work only when you want. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sometimes your customers are your boss — and sometimes you have to work more than you did when you had a traditional job. While things tend to change if you find success, and you can find more flexibility in your schedule later on, when you first start out it can be a lot of hard work and long hours. Success rarely just happens. You have to make it happen.
A great idea is definitely a boost if you want to find entrepreneurial success. However, just having an idea won’t mean success. If you want your small business to succeed, you will need to have a plan. You will also need to have some measurable goals. Figure out what you want to accomplish with your small business, and then create an actionable plan to help you get there. You can have success with a common business idea like landscaping, but the effort has to be there.
To a certain extent, it’s true that you just need to go for it in terms starting your business. There has to be a point at which you decide to “do or die.” At the same time, though, you don’t want to rush into it. Quitting your day job too soon can leave you in financial straits, unable to meet your obligations while your small business struggles through its initial stages. My husband and I decided that I would work from home while he finished school and (eventually) found a job. However, before we decided this would work, we needed to make sure we were in a financial position to do this. My husband’s graduate assistantship, along with a small amount in student loans, formed a financial base we could use. Looking back, maybe we shouldn’t have used student loans, but we were done with them after the first three semesters of his program, and our frugality meant that we could get by on less while I built my writing business.
It is important to research different business organization structures, as well as understand what you need to do in terms of paying taxes, and setting things up properly. I’ve seen would-be entrepreneurs get caught up in problems because they didn’t think about how they would pay employees, do research about the type of web support they would need for an online store, or find out about the best ways to reach their target audience. Do some research — and even considering hiring someone to help you — so that you have a better idea of how to proceed.
Some healthy fear of mistakes is a good idea, since it can prompt you to research and plan ahead of time. However, there is no way to completely avoid making mistakes. As a result, you can’t be so petrified of messing up that you become paralyzed. Instead, learn from your mistakes, and be willing to take calculated risks. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
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