More and more people are considering starting their own gig. It offers flexibility and the opportunity to be your own boss. The possibility of making a lot of money may excite you, or your primary driver may be the chance to follow your passion. When you think about whether to go for it, you're probably thinking of questions like: Can I risk several years of financial and job insecurity? Am I OK with failing? Do I have the right expertise to do this? What do I do if it doesn't work?
These are all completely valid and necessary questions to ask yourself. You need to carefully weigh your answers and fully consider the pros and cons of starting your own business. While it's a lot of hours and hard work that could either never pay off or take many years to pay off, there are a lot of upsides, including some unexpected benefits you may not have considered before.
Development of new skills. When you start or join a company in its infancy, you usually take on a piece of everything. Though you might not have done sales before, if you're passionate enough about what you're doing and the whole idea of going it on your own, you will learn as you go.
Some processes will be a steep learning curve and others you just flat out should not or may not want to engage in. It's important to realize at some point that you cannot do it all if you want to grow fast. Figure out what you are most interested in trying and feel you may be good at (or already know you are!) and outsource whatever is not on that list.
The areas below are characteristic of almost all organizations and it's likely that as an entrepreneur, you'll be involved in at least some parts of each. If you're willing to invest money and time, you can choose in which ones you want direct involvement.
Sales – A lot of entrepreneurs have never done sales but it doesn't mean you're not going to be able to sell the thing you've created. Whether it's a product or service, you will be engaging in sales the whole time you own your business. You may not think, "Hey! I'm doing sales!" but when you talk about your company with potential partners and clients, you're selling.
Relationship building – This is not much different from sales. You will be going to events, making phone calls and sending emails and materials out in order to meet prospective partners and clients.
Operations – If you have a product, you need to understand logistics and supply chain techniques. If you have a service, you will use operations principles in order to determine and manage your workflow.
Marketing – A lot of entrepreneurs are uncomfortable with it, but the good news is that there are many marketing and web design freelancers out there who can help. If you do outsource, you still should try to determine your brand and purpose on your own and how to best communicate it before hiring someone. After all, it will still be you selling and pitching to clients and partners.
Information technology – Even if you haven't done a website before, there are website design companies like Squarespace that offer user-friendly templates and instructions. You can easily update it on your own when needed without having to rely on a web designer. If your company requires a complex interface, however, it is probably worthwhile hiring a designer.
Accounting and finance – When you first start out, you may be able to use a program like QuickBooks to track your finances and handle invoices. You may need to look into payment applications to determine how you'll be paid. As you grow, you may consider outsourcing these functions to save you time.
Human resources – If you are managing a team of employees, contractors or vendors, you're performing HR functions. You're handling pay, benefits and performance.
Other – There are a variety of other skills you will likely use at one point or another as you build your business, such as strategic planning, product development, fundraising and customer service. You should consult with a lawyer regarding contracts and insurance needs.
Building your career network. As you attend events and have phone chats with partners and clients, you build your network. Often when you meet one person, they suggest someone else with whom you should connect. As a result, your web grows bigger and bigger. You may not see now how these people might fit into your future career, but you've effectively grown your network while growing your business.
Meeting inspiring entrepreneurs. Most entrepreneurs love talking to other entrepreneurs because they've had others serve as their own mentors and inspiration. Talking to other business owners may result in close friendships, partnerships or simply spark ideas that you hadn't considered before. These are long-lasting connections that can take you in a variety of different directions should you decide to change your business model or simply do something else.
As you build a business, you gain a large number of unanticipated skills and contacts. The more open you are to opportunity, the better you will do – not only in your present endeavor, but also down the road in unknown but exciting territory.