In my first post on the series – “How do I leave my day job?” I recommended that you first start getting your health in order ready to face the stress of running your own business. I also suggested that you think hard about what it is you will do to replace your income.
So, by now you should have a deep understanding of what you want to do, how you will fund yourself while you build the business, who your competitors are and what is the size of your market.
If you have not done the above then stop reading this post and get back to researching!
Time to Get Real
About a week ago I stumbled onto James Altucher and read a few of his posts, liked what he wrote and downloaded 3 of his latest books to my Kindle.
I suggest you subscribe to his blog because he talks from the heart about real life and the many ups and downs we all face not just as business owners but also as people.
The motivational banners that people load up onto their blogs and Facebook accounts are useless to you. You need to read about real facts, real world experiences and especially bad experiences in order for you to learn and not make the same mistakes. James provides all that – he made millions, lost millions and talks about depression, divorce and business – you may encounter them all as a business owner.
Forget motivational speaking events that have you coming out on a high with no substance. At the end of the day jumping up and down and yelling ‘I am successful and the world will give me what I want!” will not pay the bills.
If you did not create the feeling yourself through experiences of your own then sustaining this mindset is impossible. The event speaker injected that into you and it will wear off fast. That’s why you need to buy his DVD’s and books and keep him wealthy while you attempt to get that ‘feeling’ back.
Too negative for you?
No problem stop reading this post, buy the book ‘The Secret’, read it, then sit on your couch and wait for success and the millions to roll up.
By the way ‘The Secret’ is a fantastic example of marketing manipulators conning you into believing this stuff is new and will work. It use to be called ‘Creative Visualization’ and many people use it including sports people – the thing is, it needs action from you to make it work.
Two seriously BRILLANT ways to get your first client
Okay so back to James. In one of his books he recommends that you first sign up a client before you start your business. This is a smart idea.
Securing a client before you leave your day job provides you with the most critical thing you need in business – cash flow. You won’t get the money first (unless you ask for it) but at least there is more security that starting from zero and you have your first client!
Another excellent piece of advice James hands out is look at the company you are currently working for – do they lack anything that is stopping them from making more money or reducing costs? If so, could you provide it to them? Is there a wider need for this ‘pain’ that you could also sell to their competitors and sub markets?
I cannot stress how hard it is to get your first couple of clients – its catch 22. Prospects want references but you have done, in order to get a reference you need a client! So how about pitching to your current employer? They know you, you (hopefully) understand their business so what better arrangement can there be?
The Check List
So before you leave your day job lets check if you are ready:
- Do you know what it is you want to do? Can you see yourself doing this ‘job’ for the next 5 years without going insane?
- What is your end plan? Sell? Partnership with the children? How long away?
- Are you prepared to sacrifice many things in your life? Money, time with the family, sleep, friends, holidays, the weekend?
- Do you have a deep understanding of the market that you are entering?
- Who are your competitors? Are they struggling for market share? If so why the hell are you entering the market?
- Is the market big enough to give you the profit you need? If the market is too small you will end up fighting for scraps.
- Do you have enough money to support yourself and your family for the first year of business? I am not joking here – you need that much – maybe more.
- What equipment, staff, office space and other supplies do you need? Keep this tight as possible. I have seen many businesses fail because they hired too many staff, leased too much equipment and ended up going out of business because the bills exceeded the money coming in. Use contractors if you can – if the sales drop its far easier dropping a contractor then firing a staff member – it is also better for your sole. Its not nice firing staff members for no other reason than trying to survive.
- Forget the business plan – you will be changing your approach rapidly, and in some cases you will create new services/products just to get the client. We did this for the first 3 years. So have you got some basic rules that relate to your self-esteem? How far will you ‘drop your pants’ for a client signup? This more important than a business plan in the early years as you don’t really know what your business is at this stage.
- What is your ‘Plan B’? Some people say that the truly successful are the ones that stick with the business through many hardships and reap the rewards. That maybe true in some cases but you will learn through experience when a business is truly a dead duck. Kill it before you waste too much of everything.
- Is your family and you ready for the stress? Starting a business can break a marriage – make sure everyone is prepared for a few years of the ‘unknown’.
I think this is enough of a checklist. I may have missed out a few but the ones above are from my own experiences and are embedded in my memory via actual experience.