“Set your goals higher than you can achieve.” Ted Turner
You have been working over 15 years with various multinationals. You have come up the rung of the Corporate Ladder having tried various roles with various organizations and in different countries. You enjoyed the success, the learning, the challenges and the network of your contacts.
There are great advantages of Corporate Life some of them being the pay check, the power that goes with your position and the time you can decide to be away from office on vacation. But yet some of us reach a stage that we decide to leave the Corporate World. We decide to venture out on our own to follow a dream, a passion and be an entrepreneur.
I decided to become an entrepreneur recently, after my stint in the Corporate World and I wanted to share some of my learnings in this journey:
1. Don’t reinvent the wheel – learn from the success stories and set backs of others and use that as an enriching experience to lay your own path.
2. Cash flow – before you decide to take the plunge, make sure you know your cash flow, and plan your outflows for the next 8-12 months. There is always a lead time to establish yourselves in whatever you seek to do and during this time your outflows will exceed your inflows.
3. Partners – Determine if you want to venture on your own or with a partner. Choose to go with a partner with complementary skills. Ask yourself “Do I like working with this person?” “Can we be with each other through thick and thin?”. Decide how many people you want in partnership. Decide on the structure.
4. Down days than up days – learn to take notice of small things and be thankful. It is those little things that will keep you going especially when you feel you have more down days than up days.
5. Family support – you need unconditional support from your family. Your spouse or partner needs to understand and buy into the one non earning member status till you establish your business.
6. Support around you – in the Corporate world you have the support of IT, Human Resources, back office staff and many others. When you set up your own venture you have to wear several hats and learn to deal with the various issues that arise. Learn to take critique but stay away from the naysayers and those who attempt to bring you down by their talk and action.
7. Personal brand – You are your personal brand. Do not underestimate it. It is your values, skills, talents and how you engage both personally and professionally. It is how you walk your talk. Be consistent in what you say, do and let your actions give power to your words.
8. Passion – ask yourself why you decided to quit Corporate life. Remind yourself of your passion and let that be a motivation to move forward.
9. Patience – this is an absolute prerequisite. There are days when you feel like giving up but it is absolutely essential to give yourself time. Be optimistic but a realist. Do not set unachievable targets. Choose to walk away from an option but do not give up on your ultimate passion and goal. Don’t latch onto the idea you first think of but keep an open mind and brain storm various ideas. Talk to a Coach who can enable you to make informed choices.
“Everyone needs a Coach.” Eric Schmidt
10. Personal sacrifices - there are many sacrifices you’ll have to make for e.g. Not going on a holiday, working over weekends, not going out for dinners or parties as often as you may have liked to, not being a shopaholic, cutting down on your sleep hours and TV time. Don’t forget to take a break and get yourself recharged & refreshed.
11. People, process & performance - trust and rely on your networks and connections. Learn to trust your own intuition. Remember to set clear processes but be flexible. Always obtain feedback and check your progress and performance regularly.
“Leave your ego at the door.” Howard Schulz
12. Discipline – Be positive but don’t use positivity to stop thinking about real, practical challenges in your life. Be disciplined and know when to cut your loss.
“There’s a difference between effectiveness and efficiency.” Rick Warren
13. Exit strategy – if you have put your heart and soul to it and if the venture does not work out for reasons beyond your control, plan your exit strategy. Don’t allow your emotion to take control and affect your rational thinking.
“Follow the argument where it leads.” Anthony Flew
14. Why? Every time you get frustrated and overwhelmed on your down days, remind yourself of the “Why?”. I ventured into Coaching And Leadership because I wanted to make a difference, build something with my own hands and in doing so learn something new and ride the adventure.
15. Cushion – be prepared for setbacks but let those not be road blocks. Build enough cushion for yourself and always be a realist. Even the toughest knight has weak moments but let those not be reasons to give up.
Give yourself time and support, be realistic and remember that the choice that you make today will affect you forever.
“Leave Behind More Than You Can Take.” Ursula Burns
What have you learnt from being an entrepreneur? How have you dealt with some setbacks? What would you do different if you turned back the clock?
Please share your views or learnings in the comment section below.