If you’ve been waiting for a sign to start your own business, wait no longer. Life is too short for what-ifs, and if you’re going to spend a third or more of your time doing something for 40-plus years you may as well enjoy it.
Being your own boss can be a highly rewarding way to earn a living, and it’s not just about business. Working for yourself gives you more freedom and ownership in all parts of your life — family, health, travel, finances and fun. While it’s not without its risks, the payoff can be great.
Before you set out on your own, make sure to consider these five things you need to know.
1. Your long-term vision
Do you have a big idea for a business? Would you prefer to sell products, services, or something else? Spend some time reflecting on what you like and what your dream future would look like, then consider whether you have the necessary experience.
One way to define your pathway is to find an interest. Make it your love and you’ve found your passion. Now, imagine getting paid to do work that you’re passionate about.
Another approach is just as simple. Think big, visualise your future, and then narrow it down. Know your vision, so you can reverse engineer the most logical path.
Let’s say you love nutrition and fitness. You’re a certified dietician who wants to offer hybrid nutrition and training services; that dream could lead to you running a mini-studio in the city, focusing on empowering pregnant women and new mums. To accomplish this, you might take a short course on women’s health or start off using feminine tones in your marketing.
You don’t need to have it all figured out yet and you can change your mind, but having clarity about your long-term vision and financial goals creates confidence.
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2. Your business name, finances, grants and other details
Only after you’ve let yourself imagine your dream business should you look at the finer details. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are my goals for the first 12 months?
- Do I want to do this in my spare time or quit my job and go ‘full-time’?
- How much will I need to make in the first six months for this to work?
- Can I do this by myself?
- Is anyone else doing what I want to do?
- What should I name the business?
- Will I register as a sole trader, company, or partnership?
- Am I eligible for any grants or other financial incentives?
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3. How to register and set up all the ‘business’ stuff
While you might be excited about getting your business off the ground, take your time to ensure that everything is set up properly. It’s easier to do this right at the start rather than months or years down the track.
- Get registered. You must apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN), register your business name, and possibly a trademark. You should also check that there’s an available domain name to match. Consistency with your business name, domain, and email address is necessary.
- Set up your business banking. Contact your bank and create a business account to separate your personal and company finances from day one. Find an accountant to handle your tax obligations and provide ongoing business advice. Also, speak with your superannuation provider to arrange for ongoing contributions.
- Build your network. Research any relevant insurance, industry associations, and groups to join. Set up your online presence (social media profiles, Google Maps listing, etc.) and contact any other providers you may require, such as photographers, website developers, graphic designers, and lawyers. Over time, your support network will grow, and you’ll hopefully have an external team to assist you.
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4. the relationship between Money and your mindset
Two things make or break a business: money and mindset. You don’t necessarily need an emergency fund with six months’ worth of income in the bank to start a business, especially if you’re a service provider, but the more cushion you have the more confidence you’ll feel.
- Know your numbers. This should include all your expenses, your goal for a monthly income, the amount of money available in your bank accounts, and your cash flow. You can do this yourself or work with an accountant for greater clarity.
- Check your mindset. Just as money determines the success of a business, so do your beliefs. Running a business is not easy. It can be a mirror, reflecting back your weaknesses, negative beliefs, and thought patterns, so running a business can be an extremely revealing, almost spiritual experience.
- Seek out mentorship. When you start out, especially if you’re a business of one, it’s important to tend to your mindset. Invest in a mentor who can coach you on the business side and offer personal advice. Business is personal. It’ll challenge and define your limitations and belief systems, and a good mentor should be able to assist you personally and in your business development.
5. Your ‘why’
The first few months of running your business will be full of lessons, setbacks, and revelations, and the start-up phase will usually require the greatest period of adjustment.
Being clear about why you’re in business for yourself, rather than working for someone else, will help you stay centred. It might be about the business itself or it could be lifestyle-driven.
There is no wrong answer. Discover your why in business and let that carry you through the ups and downs. When you’re motivated by something bigger than the business itself, your purpose will carry you through.
While the standard advice is to create a full business plan, this can be an intimidating way to start for many aspiring business owners, especially creatives. Instead, start by putting together a one-page plan that answers your ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’.
Keep an open mind, absorb as much advice as possible and enjoy the learning phase. Work hard, put yourself out there, and always go with your gut as your intuition can be your greatest business asset.