We have all seen the headlines: “Best economy in fifty years!”
We’ve also seen the story about the person who lost their job and said they weren’t going to work for “the man” anymore. So, they started their own business and now are multi-millionaires!
There are plenty of success stories. There are also plenty of failures. Starting a business is a risky venture which can make or break an individual and their investors. It should be done carefully and with research.
Before you hand in your two-week notice, pack your office and take out a loan to start your new business, it is important, from a financial advisor’s view, to consider these factors:
- Starting a new business by yourself is almost impossible: You will not be able to do it all on your own. You may need a business coach to help you prepare. You may need the advice of a financial advisor to set up a budget. You may need an accountant to do your bookkeeping. You may need an admin assistant to take phone calls and do your records. You may also need to create a team of subcontractors. In other words: You will need a support system.
- Start-up is a way to not make money for a while (i.e. years): If you had planned to replace your income during your startup time period, you will be disappointed. Many new entrepreneurs go without paying themselves for years, sometimes five years or more until the business begins to pay. Most income goes into paying for rent, utilities, equipment, Wifi, fees, and payroll. You may need to keep your present job just to pay the bills or depend on your spouse, family or investors to pay your personal expenses. It may pay off eventually but, in the meantime, you may live a Spartan lifestyle.
- Take care of your mental and physical health: We’ve heard the horror stories of doing 20-hour workdays and working seven days a week. That cannot last long. The body and mind will shut down. A new startup will require long hours but doing a ridiculous schedule will only burn the new entrepreneur out. Share your difficult times with your spouse, family, church/temple or networking group. Get 6-8 hours of regular sleep, eat three meals a day, exercise fifteen minutes a day, reduce alcohol consumption and dependence on drugs to keep you going. Finally, practice humility. You cannot work all day, every day. You won’t survive. Put your mental and physical health first.
- Be comfortable with change: Life is all about adapting to change and leading a startup can be quite chaotic. Be ready to accept changes, some big (moving the business to a new storefront) and some small (changing copiers). Change may also signify success. Embrace it and roll with it. Most changes are not negative, even if they take a while to adapt.
- No job is too low or too dirty: Running your own business, at first, may mean cleaning your bathroom, emptying your trash, mopping the floor, dusting the desk and doing the inventory. You are part of a team and that means not being afraid to get your hands dirty.
- Keep a tight watch on your finances: As a financial advisor, I have seen startups that have been disciplined in their spending and others that have become debt-ridden as expenses got out of control. Either hire an experienced bookkeeper to watch every expense or have someone on the company keep tabs on expenses. Most business failures come from out of control spending that is not paid for by income. Debt is part of doing a startup but it can send businesses crashing to the ground, too, never to return. Bottom line: watch every penny and be disciplined in spending.
After reading the above, you may still be asking: Should I start my own business? You have to make that decision on your own after getting seasoned and smart advice. If you can handle all that we talked about, you may be ready to start your own business.
A.K. Burton, PC, works with small businesses and entrepreneurs every day. Our experienced legal and financial advisors can help you with planning, budgeting, and payroll. Contact our friendly and experienced staff at (301) 365-1974 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A.K. Burton, PC serves the Bethesda, Rockville, and Montgomery County areas.