The decision to go it alone is one of the make or break moments in the lives of most entrepreneurs. At first it’s really scary and exciting, which is a buzz. As time progresses, however, things can get tough – you could face financial pressures or spend long hours getting established. If you’ve been running your own business for a long time, you can also hit blockages that, if they persist, can really sap the fun from what you are doing.

    So what are some of the pros and cons of running your own business?

    The Cons

    • Just surviving for the first year or two
    • Creating everything from scratch (from business processes to which technology to use)
    • Building a team
    • Finding enough new clients (that elusive marketing thing)
    • Time pressure

    The Pros

    • No boss telling you what to do
    • Getting to choose who you work with (team members and clients)
    • No values conflicts (having to do something you don’t agree with)
    • Earning an income that might exceed what you could earn working for someone else
    • Earning less money than you would working elsewhere, but still being very happy (and what’s that worth?)
    • Creating a work life balance that ordinary employees will never experience
    • Building a valuable asset that can be sold in the future to provide financial security for you and your family

    Overcome the cons

    The good news is that there’s a solution for every single issue that you face in your business. There are others who have walked the path before you, who will share their hard-earned (and often painfully earned) experiences with you, if you’re up for it.

    The biggest challenge is being open to new ideas and being prepared to grow at a personal level. Make no mistake, you have to grow as an individual when you go into business for yourself. The buck always stops with you. In every business I consult with, the major blockage to growth is always the owner. This is true in my business too!

    It can be very confronting when you realise that:

    • It’s not your team’s fault (because you hired them)
    • It’s not the computer system’s fault (because you bought it and might not be using it to its full capacity)
    • It’s not your client's fault (because you took them on and can always drop them at any time)
    • It’s really none of the above – because it’s you. Ouch!

    So what can you do to ensure you’re a business owner who doesn’t just learn things the hard and painful way?

    Here are a few tips:

    Read widely

    There are some great business biographies out there with plenty to teach those of us still on the way up. Don’t just stick to the financial sector either – there are excellent lessons to be learned from entrepreneurs in a wide range of industries and professions.

    Get a coach or mentor

    An external perspective really adds value and challenges your own ways of thinking. This is a good thing.

    Back yourself

    If you really feel something strongly, then run with your decision and don’t second-guess yourself.

    Invest in yourself

    Spending time and money on improving your skills and knowledge is not a cost, it’s an investment. An investment pays you back with interest.

    Identify the businesses you love and get in touch with them

    Ring them up and arrange a visit. Find out what they did that worked, and what didn’t. You’ll be amazed at how generous successful business people are with their time.

    Think like a business person

    Think and manage your business like a business person. Trust me, if this isn’t your natural style (and it wasn’t mine), there will be some serious personal growth to go through. It’s worth it to master the core skills of running your own business, which are:

    • financial management
    • team building and people management
    • marketing
    • strategic thinking and planning
    • great execution skills

    Copy as much as you can

    Apply your own creativity of course, but most of what you want to do has already been done. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to reinvent the wheel.

    Do a business-related course

    If you’re really serious, maybe even consider doing an MBA. A standard education will get you standard results. Get a business education and watch yourself really start to grow, mature and fly.

    Going it alone and starting your own business is a brave and exciting choice. If you’re prepared to keep learning as you go, a rich and fulfilling journey awaits you.

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