Moving from the stable life of a full-time employee to the uncertain and chaotic world of owning your own business requires a change in mindset, something that many new entrepreneurs don’t realise. In fact, the habits that you worked on to build to be a successful employee may not necessarily bring you the same benefits and success as an entrepreneur.
Your mindset and attitude is probably the major determinant of success in pretty much every walk of life. The thinking patterns you habitually adopt largely govern the results you achieve. But different circumstances and situations require different ways of thinking, something that anyone looking to leave paid employment and make it on their own, must be aware of.
Here are a few tips on how to manage the move from an employee to an entrepreneur, and the shift in thinking that is required.
1.Put money aside – While success as an entrepreneur often boils down to mindset, there are practical aspects to be considered, like cash. You’ll be going from a salaried employee to wondering when your next check will come in. If possible, before you leave your job, put away an entrepreneur fund with 3-6 month’s worth of expenses (perhaps more, depending on the nature of your new venture). Having a solid safety net will allow you to focus your energy on building your new business, rather than worry about how you are going to pay the bills.
2.Not agreeing to every request – As an employee, you probably got used to saying “yes” to any and all requests that came your way. It meant you were reliable and a team-player. But, this approach won’t get you far as an entrepreneur. As you will be pressed for time, agreeing to and doing everything just isn’t possible. But more importantly, as an entrepreneur, you need to set the agenda, not just follow everyone else’s wishes. Get used to saying “no” to everything but your main priorities.
3.Responsible for all decisions – good and bad – Entrepreneurs have an incredible opportunity to create something from nothing, in a way that’s not possible working for someone else. But this means making big decisions about what must be done, when and how. You can’t wait for things to happen, or for someone to tell you what to do, you must make them happen. Successful entrepreneurs also understand that opportunities may be short-lived, and so develop a sense of urgency that helps them achieve their goals.
4.Short and long term vision at the same time – Work for others and you are mainly responsible for ensuring that what needs to be done now, is done. As an entrepreneur, you have to think ahead and see the bigger picture. You have to consider the potential pitfalls and opportunities, and make decisions based on uncertainty. This requires you to come to terms with the fact that your actions today, will have an impact on your business in the immediate and even far future.
5.Breaking out of your ‘comfort zone’ – As an employee, you’re used to working within set boundaries and rules. As an entrepreneur, there is no box to limit you. You see what others don’t, test new ideas, seize new territory, take risks. This requires courage, a thick skin and the ability to keep going despite rejection and scepticism.
6.Long hours will be common occurrence – The typical entrepreneur often finds that he or she needs to work longer hours than back at the office. This is why it’s important to start something you love. Also, as an entrepreneur, while you might not be tied to a desk or computer 24/7, you will always be thinking about your business, what it’s doing well and what it could be doing better.
7.Constantly upgrading yourself – As an employee, you have a job description, requiring a specific skill-set. Being an entrepreneur involves learning many new skills, unless you have the funds to outsource what you’re not good at or don’t want to do. That could be learning to set up a spreadsheet, getting investors on board, marketing your ideas, crafting your perfect pitch, or using unfamiliar technology. What needs to be done, has to be done – there is no other way.
8.Being familiar with important numbers – Where numbers are concerned, it’s enough for most employees to know what’s coming in and what’s going out. As an entrepreneur, you have to delve deeper, because your cash flow is what will keep you in – or out of – business. Ultimately, it’s your sales, costs, profit and loss that will either give you sleepless nights or an enviable lifestyle. But without the guiding light of those numbers, you won’t be able to track where your business is going.
9.Being a multi-tasker – As a company employee, there’s someone to call when the server stops working. And you probably don’t think about if the office was cleaned or the plant was watered. But, when you start your own business, you’ve now got to fill a number of different roles – from tech support one hour to sales and marketing the next, and accounting, even cleaning. Before setting off on your own, ask yourself if you’ll be comfortable wearing all these hats, including the less-than-glamorous ones
10.Social life may have to take a backseat – As an entrepreneur, and being in charge of everything and everyone under you, there is a lot on your plate. The concept of weekends probably won’t exist anymore because you are hard-pressed for time and need to sacrifice days off. This is something you need to be prepared for, and at the same time find ways to work around. You don’t want to overwork yourself and get burnt out in the initial stages of setting up your company.
These are just a few basic changes that you should expect when you make the jump from employee to entrepreneur. The earlier you adjust to a business owner’s mindset, the better for you and your company.
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