By: Jared Brox
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, but for those who are, it can be all at once exciting, terrifying, and rewarding. Many people have dreams of owning their own business, but are quick to dismiss the idea, because they don’t think it’s a realistic option. For some, that may be true, but if you’re willing to put in the work and start taking a few early steps, you can significantly increase your chances of success when the opportunity comes to strike out on your own.
Build a nest egg
Starting a business isn’t cheap. From expected expenses associated with getting a company off the ground to often overlooked everyday living expenses that can be challenging before your new venture becomes profitable, it’s important to have a financial nest egg to fall back on. And the sooner you start setting money aside, the better prepared you’ll be to weather the storm during the critical early years of business ownership.
Take after hours classes
If the nature of your current job doesn’t allow you to build knowledge in key areas that will be important to have a firm grasp as a business owner, you may have to seek those skills elsewhere. One great option is to look for evening classes at a local community college or vocational school. From finance to management to marketing, these institutions will have a variety of courses that will help you get a leg up on building your business ownership skills, and they are typically an affordable option that will allow you to work around your work schedule.
Take on bigger assignments
Owning a business is a big responsibility with seemingly endless amounts of work and decisions that need to be made that could greatly impact success. If you have dreams of one day being your own boss, it’s important to get in as much real world leadership experience as possible now. A great way to build those skills is by taking on bigger assignments in your current job. Start volunteering to take the lead on new and more complex projects, even if they’re outside your immediate job responsibilities. From planning strategies and timelines to managing people and budgets, project management is an important skill you will need to have mastered as an entrepreneur.
Build your network
You probably already have an extensive network of professionals you’ve built through your current job and activities. And while many of those connections may prove valuable when starting a new business, you don’t want to stop there. Start thinking about the people you will need to know or groups you should get more involved with long before you make the leap to entrepreneurship. From chambers of commerce to trade organizations, think about who your future customers will be and take steps to establish yourself in their business circles.
Find a mentor
Perhaps the most valuable resource to have in your entrepreneurship arsenal is a strong mentor. Who better to learn more about what to expect when starting a business from scratch than someone who has already walked in those shoes? Whether it’s through personal connections or your various professional circles, seek out a mentor whose accomplishments you admire and trust to give you solid, from the heart—and brutally honest—advice about all the ins and outs of building a business.
Business ownership can be a rewarding and life changing experience, but it’s a journey you can’t embark upon without a detailed map to lead you to your destination. If you’re preparing to take the leap into business ownership, what are some of the steps you’ve taken to prepare? If you are already a business owner, what other tips and advice do you have for those just starting out?