How to Smoothly Transition from Employment to Self Employment by Dr. Vesna Grubacevic
We all have dreams and passions, including being our own boss, yet very few people have the courage to pursue them. Their fears, self doubts and lack of belief in their ability to generate a secure income usually prevent them from pursuing their dream of running their own business. Here are 7 steps that you can take to smoothly transition from employment to your dream of running your own business.
1. Step out of your comfort zone
Regardless of how successful you are, after a while wherever you are in business and life, it becomes your comfort zone. The comfort zone is called a comfort zone because it is comfortable. We get used to living life in a certain way and, unless something dramatic happens to propel us out of the comfort zone, we continue plowing along because it is what we know, what we are used to. To step out of it can be daunting or uncertain.
To reap even greater rewards in business and in life, we need to trust ourselves to take calculated risks, to step out of our comfort zone and to back our own decisions. Remember, sometimes you need to go out on a limb to get the fruit!
2. Risk is a perception
Ray Croc, the founder of McDonalds, said “If you are not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.” Risk is a perception. I remember when I decided to leave corporate life after 13 years of a high paying secure income. People asked me “Aren’t you taking a risk?”. My reply, “what is the bigger risk, staying in a job where you are unfulfilled and spending the rest of your life doing something you are unhappy about only to have regrets at the end of your life, or pursuing something that you really want to do, waking up feeling excited and creating the life you want to live?”
There is no risk if you totally believe in yourself and your ability to succeed. The biggest risk in business is not backing yourself enough, not having enough self belief, not taking action that will lead to your success. It is only fear and self doubt that increases the risk because then we second guess our decisions, question everything, delay action, etc – this is where the real risk to sabotaging our success lies.
3. Shift your thinking
As an employee, you probably have very different values and beliefs to that of an entrepreneur. To truly mould yourself into a successful business owner you need to align your values and beliefs to those of being a successful business owner. I have seen potentially highly successful businesses struggle because of the business owner – he/she is often their worst saboteur.
Ensure that you address your fears, self doubts, negative self talk and sabotaging behaviours (eg. procrastination) before you start your business. This way you will be best placed to succeed. I have studied numerous highly successful business owners and entrepreneurs and they all have one thing in common – enormous self belief! It is that self belief that allows them to bounce back even stronger and more determined after each rejection.
4. Acquire People Skills
Regardless of the industry you are in, whether you sell your products, services or ideas, we are all in the business of selling one thing and only one thing – a relationship! When people like each other, they do business together. As a business owner, you will need to know what makes other people tick, how to successfully interact with prospects, convert them into customers and nurture that relationship for life (or for as long as you want them to be your customer).
People skills are also important when leading, motivating and inspiring your employees, suppliers, business partners, referrers, alliance partners, investors, etc. The sooner you develop these skills, the sooner you will reap the rewards of a successful business.
5. Learn to Love Promoting Yourself
Many business owners are poor at promoting themselves and their business, so they keep themselves busy in their office working on plans, administration, systems, etc rather than getting out and talking to prospects and customers. Remember out of sight, out of mind! If your competitors are in your prospects’ and customers’ sights and you are unseen, who will get the business? So you need to leave the office and get out and network, promote and educate your prospects and customers about your business and how you can assist them.
One of the major reasons why only around 5% of new businesses succeed after 5 years in business is lack of enough cash flow ie. lack of enough sales and enough customers. The most successful business owners are very comfortable with promoting themselves and their business. While some of them are naturally introverted and shy, they learn how to love being around people and how to promote themselves effectively (and with integrity).
If you fear rejection or getting a no, it is critical that you address these fears as this is the major reason preventing business owners from turning leads and prospects into clients. Many business owners attend networking events, expos, advertise, generate website traffic and other leads, yet fail to convert those leads into clients and cash flow. In fact, according to research, 90% of business people have a fear of rejection and it is costing Australian businesses millions of dollars in lost business each year.
6. Surround Yourself with Fans
I still remember the day I resigned from corporate life – I sent an email to hundreds of people I knew in the organisation to let them know that I was leaving to start my own business. Within 24 hours I received replies from most of those people. Around half were really positive, expressing their excitement and support and congratulating me. Meanwhile, the other half replied with negativity and “rained on my parade”. By the end of the day, my head was spinning and I was wondering whether I had done the right thing. I started to doubt and question my decision to resign.
This was a real test of my commitment to my decision. I could have caved in to the negativity and given up on my dream and missed out on making a huge difference to thousands of people over the past fourteen years. Instead, I believed in myself enough to refocus on my business vision and persist. At that point, I decided to never again surround myself with negative people, only fans. Look at the people that you surround yourself with, are they supporters of your dreams or not?
7. Action Your Plan
Create a 5 year business vision and make it so compelling that it drives you to transition. This will keep you focused, it will help you overcome any obstacles that arise and will make your remaining time in employment easier. Without a clear business vision and goals, simply dreaming of one day being in your own business, will be insufficient to drive and motivate you. Also have a business and a marketing plan. These will give you focus and also ensure that you have done your homework to increase your chances of success.
From those plans, work backwards and create a transition plan for the next eg. 6-12 months, ensuring that your plan is realistic. Then work that transition plan! Enough of the right action breeds success. You can do all the talking about how you want to start your own business, yet it is only by taking action that you demonstrate true commitment to yourself and your goal.
Imagine how quickly you could start pursuing your dream of having your own business by implementing the above steps!
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