5 keys for taking the leap into the unknown to start your own business.

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Do it your way!

Many people wonder whether they can go out on their own. What will it take beyond a leap of faith to jump into the unknown and start something new? Whether you’re considering starting your own business, switching fields, designing a product or building a company, you are likely to face some hesitation.

I contemplated the same question for years before leaving corporate. My version was “do I have what it takes to do my own thing?” Your version might be slightly different, but likely includes some variation on “OMG, I’m not sure I can do this”, “what am I thinking?”, “what will ________ think?” or “that sounds so scary!” In fact, I remember having former corporate colleagues say to me outright that either I was incredibly stupid or unbelievably courageous to leave a steady paycheck. And for me, it absolutely was a combination of courage and stupidity that fueled my process.


Let my lack of experience be your guide. In the interests of sharing several hard-earned lessons after a decade of being on my own, here are some things for those considering a change to reflect on so you won’t say I never told you so. Don’t go in blindly the way I did oh those many years ago. Here are 5 things to think about.

  • RISK TOLERANCEKnow how comfortable you are with uncertainty.

If the thought of not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from stresses you out, then this is a signal that you might prefer more predictable work and find it more satisfying. Definitely review your financial situation and start 2 things immediately: 1) increasing your savings and 2) reducing your spending. Giving yourself a cushion is wise for many reasons, though primarily it can help you sleep more easily at night knowing you can pay the rent and put food on the table.

  • VALUES: Understand what matters to you.

Use your priorities to guide the form and structure of your new endeavor. Make your schedule reflect how you want to work. Think about the hours when you work best. If you don’t enjoy early morning calls, block out that time on your calendar. What business practices do you want to follow in communicating with clients or scheduling meetings? If you want steady income then know that you must create an effective sales process. When first starting out, I over-indexed on operational processes and structures that were less essential at the beginning of my journey. I would have been better served focusing on finding the right clients and building out a larger infrastructure as needed, rather than over-engineering things at the start. A “just in time” approach can be helpful to adapt to what arises.

  • MINDSET: YOU are your business

For most founders or business owners, particularly solopreneurs, you need to keep yourself in the game and manage your thoughts so you can stay consistent and show up consistently. Consider the surfer who needs to paddle out and wait for the right wave to come in. Know that new situations are wavy – lots of ups and downs. There may be some bumpy rides and you might also catch the perfect wave and experience a temporary high. Surfing is an apt analogy because you start by spending a lot of time getting soaked in the water until you manage to find your flow, get comfortable with the unpredictability and then trust that it will come together.

  • PROCESS: Think like a beginner from the outset.

Embrace continuous learning and experimentation. You must have a willingness to adapt as you go because sometimes what you think will work may not and things you don’t expect often turn into pleasant surprises. It’s important to take consistent action to see results. Closely related is to focus your energy on what you love doing since your business will feel like a labor of love sometimes. You may be pushed to expand your range of activities and develop comfort with technology, operations, finance, sales and marketing. While you may not be great at all of these, know your strengths and leverage activities that you enjoy doing or that come naturally to you. Find software and tools to automate aspects of your business when appropriate, thought consider what you truly need before investing.

  • TEAM: Two (or more) heads are better than one.

While you might want to do things on your own, you will accomplish more with a team. Unless you want to spend all your time doing everything, delegation is your friend and build a reliable team of advisors. Identify the key activities you can outsource and then find resources to support you. These may include an accountant, bookkeeper, virtual assistant or website designer for example. Of course a business coach can also be a great sounding board to guide you through the process. Find partners who get you, not those who try to force you into their box. There are multiple ways to run a business, you need to find what works for YOU.

How do you want to feel?

Most important is to know what motivates and inspires YOU. Keeping this top of mind will help you to stay the course as you navigate the journey of doing something new. One of the advantages of doing your own thing is that it’s yours. One of the disadvantages is that it’s yours. Notice a theme here? It’s all on YOU. While ultimately you are responsible for everything that happens, you can let that empower you or overwhelm you. Your choice.

Should you decide to GO YOUR OWN WAY, please reach out. I’d love to connect.