I was recently asked to speak at a conference on how to transition from corporate life to entrepreneur. Many Canadians and Americans have a dream of working for themselves, being their own boss and making themselves a lot of money, not working to make others rich. The explosion of businesses across Canada and the U.S. are examples of how this is playing out.
There are over 2.7 million self-employed people in Canada, a staggering number when you think about it.
This article, while a little dated, brings up some interesting facts about small businesses that are relevant for our learning today.
While the dream is real, and organizations like the Canadian Franchise Association or the International Franchise Association (the U.S. cousin) can help make this come to fruition, the transition can be an exciting but challenging one.
“Many Canadians and Americans have a dream of working for themselves.”
A recent blog I wrote, titled You’d Be Home By Now … If You Worked From Home, detailed some tips on working from home. Before you get to this point, there is the transition that needs to take place. This will often happen with plenty of planning (you plan out your work exit or are given plenty of notice of a pending closing of you office or plant or department). At other times, it happens without notice due to a sudden job loss.
The following are 10 tips for managing the transition:
1) Plan your budget. If you are like many, you have a budget that you live on and some of this goes to clothes and gas and other work related costs. Now that you won’t have these expenses, re-do your budget to see what you really need to live on. This will avoid you having too much pocket change and spending more than you need to.
2) Talk with your kids. A transition like this can be troubling for your children. Talk with them about why you are doing this and about the benefits of it. Let them ask questions and listen to their concerns.
3) Look for a workspace in your home if launching a home-based business. Use a separate workspace and invest in a proper chair. Ensure the lighting is good and avoid just setting up a laptop in a kitchen or family room.
4) Join a gym. Getting out and staying healthy will help you with the natural stress that comes with a new set of responsibilities. Find a gym that suits you and commit to this as part of your workweek.
5) Register for and use LinkedIn daily. Connect with every person you come in contact with on LinkedIn. It will be invaluable in the coming years.
6) Figure out what you are not good at and learn it. Enough is enough. I do not accept people believing that cloud based storage, social media, basic financial accountability or any other aspect of business is beyond them. Just because you are not comfortable with it doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
7) Use professional help. For areas that are outside your sandbox and are important, do not try to do these yourself. Get yourself a good accountant, lawyer and if applicable, commercial real estate brokerage. My friends at ClearstreamCRE, the Gaudettes, have been invaluable business “partners”. This team has my best interest at heart and is there to advise, support and help find solutions. www.clearstreamcre.com
8) Eat properly. You may find that you are challenged to manage your time in the early days, and that often creates challenges with respect to your nutrition. Force yourself to eat fruit, veggies and drink plenty of water.
9) Plan time for your family. If you are married and / or have children, they will often be accustomed to you having regular business hours. Plan Friday night family night, Sunday family dinners and other special events to ensure that you force yourself to step away from the business.
10) Build a business plan. Do not become self-employed without first completing a business plan. The banks will require it but more importantly, this is your road map on building your business and it forces you to ask the questions of yourself that you will need answers to.
“Figure out what you are not good at and learn it.”
Working for yourself can provide you with an amazing lifestyle. Beyond the control of your destiny, you can remove unhealthy stress and replace it with healthy stress (the kind that keeps you motivated but not up at night). You will have more control over your time, your schedule and ultimately your success. However, when I talk to many who have made this transition, I reflect on my own challenges and hurdles when I opted to take the same route. While I thought I had prepared myself, I had underestimated the number of things that would be different in my workday.
Your local Chamber of Commerce is full of people just like you, entrepreneurs. You should connect with them and use your time there to ask the questions of these experienced business leaders throughout your community.
Brian Bazely is co-founder of Driverseat, a vehicle transportation company.