Making The Switch From Employee to Solopreneur, Part 4

You have to get along to go along. A familiar expression, often quoted, the meaning of which is clear. Best not to cause waves.  Smooth water, smooth sailing, right?

After you’ve made the switch from being an employee to self-employment, this concept will dominate your thoughts more frequently than you could ever imagine.

What Are the Rules When You’re Self-Employed?

Knowing when to compromise, and when not to, is a delicate balance when you’re trying to establish yourself and your new business. The goal is to build a loyal customer base, and grow relationships. The last thing you want to do as a self-employed individual is burn every bridge you walk over.

And make no mistake. The pressure to make money – to generate your own income – is enormous now that you’ve left the world of pay-checks behind. If you can’t find a way to make money, you can’t pay your bills. The math never changes.

So yes, there will be customers and projects that demand more than you’d prefer to give. And yet you do. There will be customers and projects that you regret ever taking on. And yet you have.

But there are boundaries.

There must be boundaries, for without them, what remains?  You’re a solopreneur. A business of one, but still a business.  Self-employment does not equal servitude.  You’re not a servant-for-hire. You have boundaries.

And the customer is not always right. In fact, sometimes the customer is so wrong, so very, very wrong, that you may have a professional obligation to protect them from themselves. If you’re a service provider, like I am, then customers purchase not just your services, but your expertise.

They’re engaging you because you offer a skill set that they don’t have, experience that they haven’t acquired, training that they need to leverage. It’s your duty to provide them with the best of those abilities. That’s your value proposition.

Invariably, you may find yourself in a situation where your customer insists on taking a course of action that you know will result in a poor outcome for them. What do you do? Shut your mouth, do what they want, take the money and run? Or use your expertise to guide them in another direction? What if they insist? What if the choice is do as I say, or don’t get paid?

Never forget who and what you are. You embarked on this journey for a reason. Did you give up being an employee who answered to a manager just to be a servant who answers to yet another master?

People will mistakenly assume that now that you’re in business for yourself, you’ll take on any job because you ‘need the money’. Even if you don’t need the money, they’ll assume you do. And if you do need the money, the worst thing you can do is reinforce the belief that you’ll do anything for it.

While your building up a customer list and growing your professional network, you’re also establishing your reputation. Saying yes to work you should say no to, or allowing a customer to suffer poor outcomes that you could have prevented, do nothing but provide short-term solutions when what you want is a long-term strategy.

Don’t allow yourself to be nothing more than a commodity.

 

 

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Making The Switch From Employee to Solopreneur, Part 3

I don’t consider myself a particularly rebellious person. I cross the street when the light says “walk”. I stop at red lights even though it’s the middle of the night and the streets are empty. I don’t park in ’no parking’ areas (unless it’s cheaper to pay the parking ticket than it is to pay for suitable parking). I don’t spend all of my energy raging against ‘the system’.

But I am infinitely curious. And I as much as I’ve tried, I can’t stop myself from continually asking the question “why”. I realized very early on in my career that this is not a character trait that bosses or corporate executives welcome.

“All employess shall follow the dress code”. Why? Can’t they be trusted to dress appropriately for their circumstances without needing to follow a ‘code’? Do employees need to be indistnguishable in order to be effective?

“Employees are not permitted to work from home”. Why? Because if they’re working from home, how do you know they’re working? How do you know they’re not? How do you know if they’re working while they’re at the office? Are they monitored every minute of every day? Presumably they need to produce results. If those results are produced, does it matter from where?

Why do organizations create so many rules geared towards dictating the behaviour of employees? Is it because there are always a few people who make poor decisions, and organizations don’t have the courage to deal with those people directly so they make blanket rules to save themselves from having awkward conversations? Could it really be sometime as simple as cowardice?

For some of us, myself included, transitioning to self-employment is like finally finding your way home. It just “fits” better than the master-servant world, with it’s rigidity, rules and expectations. Where trust is an anthem that never manifests.

Nevertheless, freeing yourself from that world isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. Through your employment years, you’ve become indoctrinated with the rules and regulations of the corporate world. One of your first goals as a solopreneur is to shed those chains, and break free. The longer you’ve been an employee, the more you’ll need to unlearn.

Unlearn: 8 Hour Days

When you work for yourself, you don’t have an eight hour work day. Some days will be 12 hours. Some days will be 3 hours. Trying to sculpt this into a more predictable pattern is a losing battle. You’ll need to be flexible. For some, this flexibility will be jarring. But there are two sides to every coin. You need to be flexible, in order to meet the demands of your clients and customers. But you also get to be flexible, and enjoy the benefits of a more integrated work-life schedule. You’re no longer obligated to work from 9am to 5pm. You may find yourself working from 8am until 1pm, then spending your afternoon at the beach or the golf course or gardening or working on the next best seller, and then working again from 6pm to 10pm.  And the next day, your schedule may be completely different. Be disciplined, but enjoy the flexibility.

You are not an employee.

Unlearn: Waiting for Direction

Your days are no longer dictated by direction from those above you in the food chain. There is no one above you. You may have clients and customers that you interact with, but it is not their job to manage you, nor is it your job to “report to” them. Be proactive. Take the initiative, and ensure that you’re continually driving things forward. Don’t sit and wait for a client to get back to you. Follow-up, clarify, communicate. You’ll make mistakes. Own them, learn from them, and move on. Always forward.

You are not an employee.

Unlearn: Validating Your Decisions

You and you alone are responsible for your business, and the decisions you make. You’ll neeed to make decisions constantly, every day. Be thoughtful, but don’t let yourself get dragged down by ‘analysis paralysis’. Overthinking, stalling, second guessing yourself, and deferring decisions will cost you more time, money, and opportunity than a bad decision. You will not always have all of the information you want before executing. Decide, take action, and then manage the outcomes of that decision, whatever they may be.

You are not an employee.

Unlearn: Working Hard

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: yes, of course, working for yourself is hard work. But don’t use “hard work” as the solution to every problem.

If a customer demands more than you have agreed to, or is looking for you to meet a deadline that you know isn’t reasonable, don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can “work hard” and get it done. Nor that you should just work hard and get it done. In most cases, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Even worse, you may succeed, resulting in raised expectations, more demands, and an unsustainable cycle that leads you straight to burn out. As a solopreneur, no one is going to intercede on your behalf, or protect your interests. Ever. You need to protect your own interests, and sometimes this means saying no, setting boundaries, and managing difficult conversations. Sometimes it can even mean ‘firing’ your client.

You are not an employee.

Unlearn: Putting Yourself Last

Employess are used to waiting their turn. Some patiently, some resentfully. They’re trained to have lowered expectations. Not enough money this year for professional development? Wait until next year. Not enough money this year for bonuses (for everyone)? Wait until next year. Overdue for a promotion but no career path available? Wait until it’s your turn.

As a solopreneur, you’re only competing with yourself. Make sure you develop your skills, manage your career, and explore new challenges. It’s all too easy to become completely consumed by the demands of customers and clients. It’s important to carve out at least a little bit of time to invest in yourself. It will make you a better professional, which will be reflected in the engagement and enthusiasm that you bring to your daily work.

Just like an employee.

 

 

Making The Switch From Employee to Solopreneur, Part 2

One of the first challenges you’ll face when you decide to work for yourself is coming to terms with the realization that you are now truly on your own.

Your days are no longer structured. You don’t have a boss or a manager. You don’t need to submit a vacation request or get a doctor’s note because you’re sick. You don’t have to ask permission to wrap up work early. Freedom!

You’ve also separated yourself from the crowd. Unless you’re running with a particularly entrepreneurial group of friends, there’s a good chance that most everyone you know is an employee who works for someone else. They have a day job. And you, now, do not.

What Your Friends Will Think When You Quit Your Job

Most everyone will think that you’re crazy. Basically. Or in need of some serious counselling. Or “going through a phase” that undoubtedly will and should pass in due time, and gee, they sure do hope you don’t ruin your life in the meantime.

In some respects, they’re not entirely wrong. It does seem a little crazy to give up a situation where you are guaranteed to receive money every two weeks just as long as you show up and do a good job. Hell, some jobs just require that you show up and not offend anyone. It’s a fairly simple formula really.

So why would anyone reject that? Why say no to a sure thing? Why become a solopreneur at all? Well you already know why. The frustration of being constrained by someone else’s rules and priorities, the desire to be your best self, the need to have an impact, the fear of becoming a mindless drone, the dismay of every day being the same as the last.  And, freedom!

The problem is, your friends and family won’t see it that way. They may not experience the same hopes, fears, desires that you do. Or they may, but they lack the courage to act on them and can’t understand how you could possibly do so. Not that they would admit this to themselves. That’s not how fear works.

Change is different. Different is scary. Scary is wrong. Different must be wrong. Change must be wrong. What if you fail? What if you don’t? What does that mean for them?

What You Will Know That They Don’t Know

Every fear and negative belief that has stood in the way of your friends’ secret, unacknowledged dreams will be thrown at you as definitive proof that you’re crazy.

Sometimes it will be wrapped in the trappings of proffered wisdom and passive aggressive condescension. “You’re planning to start your own business?” “I’ve seen statistics on how many small businesses fail, it’s pretty scary, how do you know yours will succeed?”. The implication of course is that you are uninformed and unwise and impulsive, otherwise you wouldn’t consider such a crazy idea.

Luckily for you, your wise friend who has never had the courage to make the leap that you’ve just made, and has zero experience with what you’re about to do, can guide you back to the safe and sure path of biweekly pay-checks. Right. So you can be just like them. Because different is wrong.

But you have a secret weapon.  You know what they have yet to discover. What they may never discover.

You know that you’re not 100% sure that you’ll succeed, because no one can ever be 100% sure of a future that has yet to reveal itself. But they too can’t really be 100% sure that their job will still exist five years from now.

You know that you don’t need guarantees, because you’re willing to face things as they come, and take on each obstacle at a time. You don’t need a boss or a manager to tell you how to do that or make those decisions for you.

You know that you’re passion and positivity will fuel you, and your work ethic and commitment will buoy you. You don’t need someone to tell you when to show up to get the job done.

You know that one failure doesn’t end you. It doesn’t define you. It gives you the resolve to do better next time. Because there will always be a next time.

And most importantly, you know that no one ever makes their dreams come true by not even daring to try.

What You Will Do That They Will Never Do

As much as we all want the people in our lives to support our dreams, sometimes they just can’t. That doesn’t mean that you should give up. People fear what they don’t understand. They envy that which they don’t believe they can ever have. And they disparage that which they envy.

These are observations, of course, not absolutes. But the point is to look beneath the surface. Consider some of the motivators before you accept your friends’ criticism as truth. Because the only truth you’ll find there is evidence of their fears and what’s been holding them back.

At the end of the day, the only person that needs to believe in your chosen path is you. Because the only person walking that path is you.

 

Burn Bridges

Never burn bridges is a frequently quoted mantra.  Keep connections open, maintain relationships, get along with everyone.

Don’t have standards. Don’t have integrity. Don’t have an opinion. Don’t have boundaries.

Don’t burn bridges.

Don’t stand up for yourself, for others, for anyone, for anything.  Don’t draw lines in the sand.  Don’t know your boundaries.

You can choose a lifetime of compromising yourself for every opportunity.

Or you can choose a lifetime of authenticity among the wins and the losses.

The choice is always, and only, up to you.

 

Why Doesn’t Everyone Quit Their Job

Quitting Your JobIf it’s so great, why doesn’t everybody do it?

If that thought has ever crossed your mind while considering working for yourself, you’re not alone. I get asked this question time and again. Even more frequently, people don’t ask, they just skeptically assume that I do what I do as a temporary measure, until I ‘find a real job’. Well, it’s been 12 years, so I guess their definition of temporary is a little different than mine.

5 Obstacles to Being Your Own Boss

People cling to the 9-to-5 paycheck for a few reasons. And those reasons are not insignificant. They’re exactly what distinguishes the non-employed (but not unemployed) from the employed.

The Comfort Zone

It’s all they know, and they’re comfortable with the model. A paycheck appears every two weeks that pays JUST enough to pay the bills. Or, for those at the top of the food chain, pays the bills and affords them a comfortable lifestyle. Not rich, never rich, but comfortable.

Let’s not understate the harsh reality of self-employment. There is no paycheck. Ever. The only money you get is the money you generate from the work that you generate. That’s a considerable downside for many people.

The upside? The amount of money you get is the amount of money you generate from the amount of work that you generate. You don’t need to wait for a bonus, or a promotion, or the benevolence of someone above you on the corporate ladder. And there will always be someone above you on the corporate ladder.

You don’t need to perpetually bite your tongue or swallow your opinions to ensure that you’re always “on the good side” of your boss. If you quit your job and work for yourself, the amount of money you make is only limited by how hard you’re willing to work.

The Fear Factor That Kills Solopreneurship

The primary reason people stay exactly in the place they’ve been put in or stumbled into is that they’re afraid of change. Why? Because change doesn’t guarantee success, or improvement, or a better result. Change only guarantees difference. And difference may be good, but it can also be bad. Very, very bad. Why take a leap forward in the dark, when you can stay exactly where you are? Miserable, maybe, but it’s a known misery.

If you quit your job, what happens next? No one knows. Pretend you have a friend or colleague who quit their job to become a virtual project manager. They start slowly, get a few steady clients, and eventually build up their reputation and network over time. They get so busy that they start contracting out some of the work to take on even more clients. Success!

So you decide, great, and you quit your job to start an online business. Will you be successful? I don’t know. Maybe. Online work is on the rise and is expected to continue to increase over the next number of years. That would indicate a good chance of success.

But then again, maybe not. Maybe you’re not very good at what you do. Maybe you don’t work as hard as your friend. Maybe you haven’t thought about how to deliver your services efficiently and effectively.

The point is, when you work for yourself, it’s all on you. Does that thought scare you, or reassure you? That’s the inner voice you should be listening to. Do you want to be taken care of, or do you want to take care of yourself?

Commitment Needed to Be Your Own Boss

People know it requires more effort than they’re willing to give. They don’t necessarily admit this to themselves, but ultimately this is the root cause of a lot of inaction. Committment equals effort, and lack of effort is easier.

The path of least resistance will never travel parallel to the path to success.

The good news is that if you have the committment, you can reap the reward. Go to Google and search for successful entrepreneurs and read their stories. I bet you won’t find any that say “it was really easy, I was literally an overnight success, and it didn’t take an ounce of hard work”.

Commitment is something you need to assess at the outset, and then constantly revisit if you quit your job to work for yourself. You won’t have the luxury of calling in sick when you don’t feel like working; or taking a few weeks vacation and ignoring your email and voice messages while you’re gone.

Are you the type of person that leaves the office at 5pm every day, regardless of what you’re in the middle of doing?  Do you take a sick day every couple of months, whether you need it or not?  That isn’t reality when you work for yourself.

Criticism is Easier Than Ownership

It’s easier to sit on the sidelines and criticize. Always. Something I’ve noticed is that the biggest cynics, your biggest critics, aren’t those who have tried and failed, but those who have never even tried. Why?

No one likes to admit to cowardice. Much better to say that they had the “insight” to avoid a mistake, than to admit they were too afraid to make the attempt.

Admitting that you want this, that you really want this, but you’re afraid to try will help you take those next steps.  What are you afraid of?  Write it down. Then break it down.

Afraid of failure?  How do you define failure?  Not becoming a millionaire?  Not being able to pay your bills?  Not getting even one client?  How do you mitigate failure?  Start with clients and customers.  Work on securing your first sale before you’ve left the safety of your current nest.  Write it down.  Develop a plan.

A Little Narcissism is a Good Thing

If you’ve decided to spread your wings and go out on your own, then yes, you need to be a little narcissistic. Frankly if you spend too much time thinking about others and not enough time dwelling on yourself, you’re not going to be in the business of building a business. Think Donald Trump. But dialed back to reasonable scale. You’re just trying to build a life for yourself after all, not an empire.

There’s also an inherent danger in too much narcissism. Some people are stopped in their tracks from pursuing their dreams because they’re too focused on their own specialness. They truly believe that their circumstances are so incredibly unique, and so incredibly difficult, and so incredibly complex, that they can’t possibly do what others have done because those others just have it so much easier than them.

Really? Business owners don’t have spouses and children and parents and siblings and family commitments? Business owners aren’t busy? They don’t work hard? They don’t go to the gym or play hockey or go to their kids’ soccer games or have social obligations?

The truth is, you’re not that special. Neither am I. Neither are most people that are making a living working for themselves, working from home, running online businesses, running small businesses, freelancing, and otherwise generating their own income.  That’s good news.  It means there’s no reason that you can’t do the same.  If you want it, you can do it.

Conclusion

The biggest barriers to starting your own business aren’t external. It’s not money and resources and time that stop you before you even get out of the gate. It’s our own internal fears and doubts and constructs and rationalizations that keep us tethered to a situation. Breaking down those mental barriers are usually your first challenge.

It’s a little more complicated than “believe in yourself”, but being honest with yourself, examining what makes you tick, admitting your fears, and challenging your assumptions will move you forward. Get unstuck. Or, at the very least, conclude that maybe being stuck is where you’re happiest.

 

5 First Steps to Becoming Self-Employed

Self-employed home office

Many people dream about being self-employed and making money on their own terms. No more bosses, no more bullshit. But you can dream all day, and that won’t change your circumstances. The only one who can change your circumstances is you. It doesn’t need to be drastic or dramatic. Drama is best saved for the world of entertainment, not your professional career.  So you want to be your own boss? Let’s action that.

Start Small

I find people have pre-conceived notions of what “starting a business” means. Generally it’s whatever they’ve been fed in their daily diets of tech blogs and silicon valley success stories.

But there’s a big broad world of microcosms beyond those boundaries. Small businesses strive and thrive everywhere. With digital mediums and online marketing providing a lower cost of entry than ever before, people everywhere are making money for themselves.

If you’re an employee looking to step off the treadmill, do so at a reasonable pace. You don’t need to build the next Google. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the thought of renting office space, hiring employees, investing huge quantities of money just to ‘test’ whether your idea will work.

Start with what you can accomplish without a huge investment. Want to start a catering business? Cater a few small events initially for friends/acquaintances. Want to start an online business? Create a website and start actioning your plan for an hour or two each day, after your day job. Figure out what works and what doesn’t when the stakes are small.

Start With What You Know

Making money isn’t magic, and it isn’t dumb luck. It’s about generating value. People who don’t know what you know will pay you for that knowledge. And people who can’t do what you can do will pay you for that ability. Whether it’s a service (‘I don’t know how to do X, but you know how to do X, so I will pay you to do X for me’) or a product (‘I can’t create Y, and you’ve already created Y, so I will pay you for Y’).

Everybody has knowledge about something. Everybody has skills. What do you know? What can you do? It doesn’t have to be unique. You don’t need to be the only one in the world with this talent. But it needs to be comprehensive. Comprehensive knowledge or skills means you can compete.

Start Now

People that talk to me about wanting to work for themselves, people who dream of being self-employed, consistently express one common theme – “when the time is right”.

Often, for those dreamers, the time is only right when it’s easy (‘I have $100,000 in the bank and nothing to spend it on, what a great time to be self-employed!) or when it’s necessary (‘If I ever lost my job, I’d become self-employed’). “Easy” will never happen; “necessary” happens all too often.

The problem with waiting until you lose your job before you start your own business is that you’re starting at step 0 at a time when you have 0 income. Not smart.

Whenever you start, you will not be an overnight success. This doesn’t happen. Depending on your business, there’s a better than average chance that you also won’t be successful in one month, or two months, and possibly not even in six months.

Starting your business in your own time, while you still have a day job, is the safest, least risky path to successful self-employed.  That wasn’t my path.  My hand was forced, and I had to react, and react quickly.  Vistria’s origin story was more big bang than slow burn.

While the pressure of not knowing whether you’ll be living on the street in two months’ time is certainly motivating, it’s a less than optimal way to get started.  Better to have a steady income while you slowly and gradually work on your freedom plan.

The downside? It’s a hell of a lot of work. You will need to sacrifice your evenings and your weekends on a regular basis. The end game and the payoff is freedom. Freedom from being at the mercy of your bosses and co-workers, to answer only to yourself.

Only you can answer the question how bad do you want that freedom.

Start Confidently

As much as we rely on our friends to give us valuable feedback, be careful about asking your friends for advice about quitting your job.  Especially if your friends are salaried employees. By all means tell them about your endeavour and listen to their feedback. But don’t take their advice.

Employees will always offer the same perspectives about non-employees – ‘sounds risky’, ‘what if it doesn’t work’, ‘what’s your fallback plan’, ‘how do you absolutely know it will work’, ‘what if you can’t pay the bills’. You likely already have these doubts inside of you. Good. You should. It will motivate you to work harder to avoid those pitfalls. But don’t let your friends comments reinforce your doubts to the point that you fail to move forward because you’re paralyzed by fear.

Friends mean well, but if they’re working a 9-5 job, especially if it’s a job they hate, they’re likely not going to encourage you to break free of those same chains. Misery loves company.

Make sure you leave misery by itself as you walk on by.

Start, and Don’t Stop

This is the hardest step. Once you’ve started, you’ll be faced with challenges and obstacles, and even some failures. Don’t give up. If becoming sustainably self-employed was fast and easy, then everybody would do it. The secret, the secret that everyone really knows if they stop and think about it, is persistence. Do you really think that all of those people who are making a living as contractors, as consultants, as life coaches, as online business gurus, as retail flower shop owners, as caterers, as landscapers, as designers, as app builders, and on and on are really so incredibly special that they can succeed where you can’t?

Of course not. The distinction,the ONLY distinction, is that they don’t give up.  They persevere.  They believe.

Final Reminder If You Want To Be Self-Employed

When you think you can’t, when you have your doubts, when everyone tells you not to, remember this: Start now, start small, and start with something you know.  Don’t let the pessimistics and naysayers and cowards drag you down.  And after you’ve started, do not stop.

One Compelling Reason To Be Your Own Boss

Be Your Own BossI’ve been primarily a solopreneur for over a decade, with a brief venture into entrepreneurship that didn’t end well.

But when my startup company died a horrible death, it was ultimately solopreneurship that I turned to for comfort. Solopreneurship was my safety net.

Yet I know so many people unhappily working for someone else, wishing that they worked for themselves, but too afraid to pull the ripcord. Because they view any situation other than employment as risky.

Be your own boss?  Sounds great, you say.  But too risky.  Then why do people do it?  Are they just wild-and-crazy show-me-a-plane-and-I’ll-jump-out-of-it risk takers?

How Do You Define Risk

Solopreneurship, self-employment, freelancing, entrepreneurship, e-commerce ventures, any ventures you can think of, are so often deemed risky or not secure.

There’s no ‘safety net’ of a pay-check every two weeks.

That dependable pay-check that provides you with just enough money to get you through the next two weeks and so on and so on.

But hey that’s ok, because the pay-checks keep coming right?  Until they don’t.

Until the big company you work for is bought by another bigger company that doesn’t need little ol’ you.  Happened to me.

Or until you piss off your boss.  I’ve done this.

Or criticize the wrong bad idea.  I’ve done this too.

Or dare to suggest a better way of doing something that somebody thinks is absolutely just fine thankyouverymuch.  Me again.

One Compelling Reason

Solopreneurship, self-employment, freelancing, entrepreneurship, e-commerce ventures all have one significant common theme.  In each of these situations, the person with the most control and the most influence over your success or your failure is YOU.

In a choice between handing over control of my professional and income-generating life to a complete stranger, or owning it myself, I’ll always choose to own it myself.  Who’s my boss?  I am.

The Case for Ordinary Success

SuccessSo much is said about extraordinary people and their incredible success. It seems like we’re bombarded with it these days, from viral YouTube videos to the non-stop diet of celebrity “news” served up by the media.

But what about the rest of us? Where do we fit in? Are we failures because we’re just not that special?

I am not extraordinary.  I’ve never been extraordinary.  I’ll never be extraordinary.  I’m about as non-extra-ordinary as they come.  I am, in fact, ordinary.

But I’m successful.  Rather bold of me to just go ahead and say that, don’t you think?  But it’s true.  I. Am. Successful.  And this is how I know.

People Don’t Avoid Me

I have friends.  Family.  Colleagues.  Acquaintances.  Relationships.  People don’t go out of their way to avoid me.  Don’t people generally try and avoid toxicity and failure and disease and despair?  But I have a support system.  I have people in my life I can count on, who will help me, who will extend a hand to me when I stumble.  Success.

I Don’t Avoid Myself

I almost never feel lonely, but I often seek time to be alone.  I like being alone.  Gives me time to think, create, dream.  Write.  I know people who hate being alone.  Or fear it.  I’m not sure why, it’s one of those things I can’t really relate to.  But they’ll go out of their way to avoid being alone.  Some will even spend time with people they don’t want to spend time with, doing things they don’t want to do, just so they don’t have to be alone.  What is it about themselves that they need to avoid?  I like myself.  I have nothing to avoid.  Success.

I’m Happy

This is the weird thing about saying, out loud, that you’re happy – people don’t believe you.  I’ve never been treated more like a liar than when I’ve told people I’m happy.  Why?  Maybe because they’re not happy, and misery loves company?  Or some sort of automatic cynicism in a world that reveres it?  Nonetheless, facts are facts, and I’m happy.  Some days are harder than others, always has been so, always will be so, but for the most part I’m content with who and what and where I am.  For this, I’m immensely grateful.  It’s a fragile thing, happiness, and it could change with a sudden turn of fortune, but for now I’ll relish it.  Success.

There you have it.  A completely unimpressive, ordinary, average, successful person.  Imagine that.

 

 

3 Key Reasons Not to Fear Failure

I was trying to think of how many times I’ve failed in my life, but who can count that high?

The interesting thing about fearing failure is that most of us do, and most of us pretend we don’t. I have absolutely no data to back up that statement, but I’d still be willing to bet on it.

Do you get up in the morning and think, “I would do X today, if I did not have a fear of failure”? Of course not. Fear of failure insidiously hides in the shadows, and disguises itself in many other costumes.

“I’d like to do X, but I just don’t have the time”.

“I’m going to do X, as soon as A, B, and C are ready and perfect”.

“I might try and do X, but I’m not going to tell anyone in case it doesn’t work out”.

The problem with all of those is that they lead to same result – inaction. X never happens. And you never know what potential wonderful results could transpire if you had just gone ahead with it.

Fear is an obstacle to everything. So here are my top three reasons not to fear failure:

 

Everybody Does It

Sometimes extraordinary people do extraordinary things, and you can’t help but think “I could never do that”. But failure? Everybody fails at something, as some point. From minuscule disappointments to catastrophic life altering events, failure surrounds us. So what is there to fear? Take comfort in numbers. Try something and risk failure. If the worst happens, so what? You’ll only have done what everybody else has.

Look beyond the surface of some famously successful people and you’ll see a path littered with failure and rejection. Michael Jordan was didn’t make the cut for his high school basketball team. Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school. Walt Disney was fired by an early newspaper editor for “lacking imagination”, and his early businesses went bankrupt. How different their journeys would have been had they let it stop them in their tracks.

 

It’s Unavoidable Anyway

I was trying to come up with an example of how you could live a life without risking failure. And I just couldn’t get there. Maybe someone smarter than me knows the answer to this. Relationships and careers require leaps of faith and have their own inherent risk of failure. But even the smaller day-to-day details of living involve some risk.

Do you ever cross the street? Even if you limit yourself to well-lit, marked crosswalks, you’re still taking a risk. Is it risking failure? Maybe a careening car comes around the corner, and runs you over. Not your failure. But maybe just after you step off the sidewalk, you glance down at your phone, ever so briefly, just to see who sent that text, and then the careening car comes around the corner, and hits you during a moment of distraction that took away your opportunity to avoid becoming roadkill. Well, then that’s on you.

 

No Lessons, No Learning

Ever hear the expression, “It builds character”. I used to hate that expression. During certain periods of my life, I recall thinking, “Ok, I have enough damn character now, thankyouverymuch”. But I’ve learned to appreciate the truth of it.

Failing, falling, stumbling and tumbling are how we learn. You see this repeatedly, whether it’s among kids on the playground or executives in the boardroom. Those that took their knocks and got back up again have a resilience and sharpness that is completely lacking in those that led a protected, sheltered, everything-must-go-my-way existence.

Acceptance is Progress

And since everybody fails, and since it’s unavoidable anyway, maybe it’s better to get comfortable with failure. If you never suffer the consequences, how can you ever improve?

 “Accept failure, understand it, learn from it, and ultimately, move on from it.”

 

Want to work for yourself? Cash is King

Cash is King

I recently wrote an article about how you can start your own business while still juggling a day job.  Not only is it possible, it’s also possibly the best way to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur without losing your life savings in the process! 

Budget Planning

Starting small and putting in the effort while you still have a steady income makes a lot of sense.  It’s hard to juggle two jobs – and yes, if you’re actively working on your new business, it is very much your second job – but if you want something bad enough you can make it happen.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

One of the items I mention in the article is the importance of staying on top of your budget.  Eventually you’ll get to the point where you want to focus solely on your own business.  Of course you will, because YOUR business is YOUR passion and YOUR dream, and wouldn’t you rather spend every available hour working on your dream rather than working on someone else’s?  The only way to do this is to work for yourself.

In order to work on your dream full-time, you’ll need to quit your job.  And in order to quit your job, you’ll need money in the bank.  Again, the best way to make this transition is to have some customers already buying what you’re selling before you quit your day job to really amp things up.  But how many customers is enough to walk away from your job and still pay your bills?  This is where budgeting comes in.  If you can master your expenses, grow your revenue, and get insight into your financial transition points, you can plan toward making this transition a reality without any unforeseen financial disaster.

Know Your Numbers

What is a financial transition point?  This is what I call a turning point in your financial forecast.  Many people think that the right time to quit their job is when their side business earns them as much money as they would earn as an employee.  Maybe.  This is certainly one potential transition point. But there are others as well, depending on how much risk you want to take, and how much risk you need to avoid.

But you can’t make an informed decision about any of that until you have all of the information.  And there’s no better way to assess your financial position than by taking the time to write down what you spend and how you spend it.  More importantly, what you plan to spend (and earn) in the future will help you realize your business dreams and stay 100% focused on your goals.

Keep it Simple

You don’t need complicated or expensive software to do some basic budgeting and financial forecasting.  Create an inventory and make sure you include all of the money you earn (income, sales) and all of the money you spend (business and personal).  Understanding how your money flows is the first step in turning your dream into an action plan.

If you need a little help, or just want to save yourself some time, sign-up and download my basic budget planning spreadsheet for free.  It’s simple to use and has everything you need to get started today.

The lack of money is the root of all evil.  ~Mark Twain