Why now is a great time to start your business – Part 2

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If you’ve ever dreamed about working for yourself or starting your own business, this two part series is for you.  Part one looked at how the traditional view of what makes a successful business is changing beyond recognition.  It also outlined the old Five Commandments of Business.

If you have a business idea floating around the back of your mind, Part 2 is about how to plan to make that into a sustainable business. Continue Reading »

Why now is a great time to start your own business – Part 1

start-up, work for yourself, start your own business, start-up coaching, business coaching, entrepreneur coaching

If you’ve ever dreamed about working for yourself or starting your own business, this two part series is for you.  The traditional view of what makes a successful business is changing beyond recognition.

We’ll look at what has changed and why that means there has never been a better time to turn your idea into a start-up business.

The Starting Point

When I was first starting Less Ordinary Living, I visited the British Library to do some research.

Somewhere in the leather-bound aisles of the business section, covered in cobwebs, I find a giant tome – the Big Book of Business.

Flicking to the first page, I found what I was looking for – the Five Commandments of Business:

1. Thou shalt make as much money as possible

2. Thou shalt devote every waking hour to your business

3. Thou shalt grow your business as quickly as possible

4. Thou must raise finance to be a real business

5. Thou must employ as many others as possible in your business

I dropped the book on the floor and ran screaming from those hallowed halls.

For many people who dream of running their own business, these old paradigms can act as a huge barrier to turning the idea into a reality.

They make business sound monolithic, risky, profit focussed and frankly no fun at all.

A brave new world

The exciting news is that in the 21st Century, the old business commandments have been torn to pieces.

Rapid population growth, the information age, changes in gender roles, new social challenges, environmental awareness, the digital communications revolution and the internet have redefined the world.

If you’re tempted to work for yourself or start up an enterprise, the implications are huge:

1. Not just for profit – Finding meaning in your organisation

The purpose of a business is traditionally defined as generating as much profit and wealth as possible for its owners.  A business was defined by it’s level of profit and income.

The owner looked to squeeze the maximum return from their investment, the workers strove to make it happen and feared for their jobs the whole time.

Recently entities such as social enterprises and green businesses have started to challenge this.  They have a more complex purpose – to improve society or reduce the impact of an environmental issue – as well as to generate a profit.

Even traditional businesses are starting to recognize the importance of looking beyond profit as they are increasingly scrutinized by the public over their behaviour as a corporate citizen.  I’ve yet to find the company who publicly use the slogan “we’re all about the money” (although I can think of quite a few who act this way).

Increasing numbers of businesses enshrine deeper principles into their mission (for example, the Body Shop, Clif Bar, Patagonia and the Co-operative Bank).

Interestingly I find these businesses are very attractive as places to work for the talented people I interact with – they seem to provide a better motivation for getting out of bed on a Monday morning.

To really succeed as a business in the 21st Century, I’d argue you need to have a deeper purpose beyond the profit motive.  Having a sense of purpose is motivating for you, and shines a beacon for employees and broader stakeholders explaining what you stand for.

So, if you have a great idea for a business or social enterprise think about what is your vision and purpose and how you’ll measure your impact.

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2. Flexibility is the new hard work

Somewhere deep in our heritage there is a powerful message linking hard work and success.  It is almost assumed that a successful business owner will be totally consumed in their work all the time – or they’ll fail.

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary” – Donald Kendall

I’m not going to deny that hard work is needed to be successful as a business owner – however I believe that making business the sole focus of life is not the recipe for happiness or long-term success.

It is possible to create a business that allows you to make a living from your passion and lead a balanced life.

Increasing numbers of entrepreneurs and small business people are building “lifestyle businesses”, creating “portfolio careers” or balancing temporary or contract work with extended periods of travel, volunteering and enjoyment.

Businesses can support the lifestyle of its owner, rather than becoming the sole purpose of their existence.  Businesses can provide the flexibility to enjoy your whole life if properly planned.

Some more traditional entrepreneurs can get very sniffy about lifestyle businesses, claiming they are not real businesses.

I’d argue that if you can build a business that makes enough money to fund the life you want and only work 30 hours a week (or indeed a four hour work week), more power to your elbow.

So if you’re building your dream business, think more broadly.  What kind of flexibility and lifestyle would you like to be living as a successful entrepreneur?

By getting clear on the balance of life and quality of life you’d like to create you can get past the trap of working 100 hours a week on your business for ever.

Over to you

If you enjoyed this article and you’d like to read more about how to turn your idea into a start-up or work for yourself, please click here to join our mailing list to get regular articles delivered to your inbox.

Are you excited about starting your own business?  What do you see as the purpose for an enterprise?  Can a business provide a high quality of life and success?

Please leave a comment to share your thoughts with our readers.

Photo credit: Aussiegall (Flickr Creative Commons), Ingorrr (Flickr Creative Commons)

What's it like to set up your own business?

career coaching, career change, find work you love, lifestyle, enjoy life, be happy

Thank you - couldn't have done it without you

The Short Answer – exciting, exhilarating, scary, fun, energizing and challenging.

I’ve been building my coaching and personal development business, Less Ordinary Living for 18 months.  Leaving the corporate world and setting up a start-up has been an amazing experience and I’ve learnt a huge amount.

I’ve worked with some exceptional clients who have made big changes in their lives.  It’s a continued privilege to partner with smart ambitious people to make the most of their careers, lives and building their businesses.

So what was it like?

The first six months– Getting my head in the Game

The first six months as an entrepreneur were a rollercoaster of emotions:

The exhilaration the day I walked out of my day job.  Finally, I’m free to do what I love.

The sickening twist of fear the next day -what on earth am I doing?  No more pay cheques dropping into my bank account every month.  From now on my livelihood depends entirely on me.

The liberation of being free to set my own path – I can work on anything I want and with anyone I want wherever I want.

The confusion of so many options.  I thought my business plan made sense, now things are seem more complicated than I could have imagined.

The excitement of the first client, the first check, the first great feedback, the first referral.  These are unbeatable moments – realizing I can make this work.

The stress of the slow month.  It takes time to get your message out there and build momentum.  Did I make a big mistake to leave the apparent safety of the corporate world behind?

The joy of working with others – the valued support, partnership and amazing ideas that others have brought to encourage and inspire me.

If nothing else, in the first six months I developed the mindset to deal with the ups and downs of running a start-up.

In the immortal words of Len Goodman, in business “one day you’re a rooster, the next you’re a feather duster.

I’m better at dealing with these emotions and staying on a more even keel – and that is critical to being an entrepreneur.

The next 12 months – Making it Happen

The last year has been about turning Less Ordinary Living from an idea into a sustainable business.  It’s been about learning and doing.

I’ve spent a lot of time building my confidence and skills to become an entrepreneur.  It has taken time to develop my message and to convince others.

I’ve learned a huge amount about running and marketing a business from experience that I simply couldn’t have prepared for.  My passion is coaching, and according to my feedback from clients I’m great at that – I’m now discovering how to find the right people to serve.

I’ve also learned the value of learning from my mistakes and certainly had plenty of opportunities to do so.

Finding the focus and single mindedness to work effectively from home and get more done in less time has been instrumental in making it happen.

My business plan has evolved from all this experience and I have clarity on what Less Ordinary Living stands for – a resource for anyone who thinks life is too short to be ordinary.

Serving my clients has helped me to understand what makes my coaching services unique and how I can add real value to people’s lives.

The Future – What’s Next?

Now I’m starting to develop some strong partnership with amazing organizations that also serve professionals looking to make the most of life.

I’ve got an exciting new website under development – watch this space.

Most importantly I have some amazing clients who I love working with and I’m continuing to find more every day.

So building Less Ordinary Living has certainly been exciting, exhilarating, scary, fun, tiring, energizing, challenging and rewarding.

I’ve loved every step of the journey (even the tough ones) and I’m sure that there is more challenge and excitement ahead.

Thank you – I couldn’t have done it without you

To you – my clients, subscribers, readers and supports – thank you for sharing the journey with me so far – I couldn’t have done it without you.  I’m humbled by your contribution.

If you’d like to follow the next steps of the journey, please think about joining my mailing list to get all the latest updates from Less Ordinary Living.

Please do drop me a line or leave a comment to share your thoughts and experiences about life as an entrepreneur.

I’d also value your thoughts on what you’d like to see from Less Ordinary Living in the future.