Why everyone should have a business of their own
I’m a firm believer in the idea that everyone should have their own business. Even if you also work nine to five. Not only because you can never be assured of job security working for others or because you are more limited income-wise working for others. But also, we’re all born creators. It’s innate. This ability to generate new ideas, and new connections between new ideas and ways to solve problems, as well as bring them to life. (Thanks to Hubspot for this definition of creativity).
How rewarding is it then, creating a money-making business from scratch that is done your way, based on your ideas, your solution, service or product and your perspective? Very.
Everyone has something to offer. Whether it’s teaching people a skill you’re good at—for example, becoming a piano teacher or coach, consultant or go-to expert in your field. Or whether you make and/or sell something such as silver jewelry, books or soul food. Or offer a service, such as grocery-delivery, or fixing computers.
I started my own business out of necessity many years ago. I went from working 8:30 to 5 at a magazine to freelance writing. At the time, a health issue made it difficult to work outside of my house. So I spent my days pitching magazine articles (which meant sending ideas to magazines I hoped to write for) and hoping for a bite. I found the more you researched your market, and targeted the magazines that paid well, and formulated your pitch in the right way, and the more pitches you got out there, the more money you could make. It was strategy and math. Plus I read a lot of books on freelance writing.
Things have evolved a lot since then (and my career has evolved a lot since then) except for the fact that success is still about strategy and math. Study your craft, study your market, know what they need, know what they’ll pay for, get them to see you, give them a taste of what you’re offering, and work at being the best at it.
Business Coach Carrie Wilkerson, known as the Barefoot Executive, also started her business out of necessity. She worked as a teacher, and didn’t want to leave her two newly adopted children home alone. So she used her summer off to start a business doing freelance executive work to help other business owners. Over time, her business evolved and now she’s one of the most sought-after business coaches and speakers in the world.
Granted, running your own business isn’t all roses. I helped found and run a business that had five employees and over a thousand clients and there were a lot of good things about it, but it was also stressful. The fears behind taking that leap into business ownership are real. But the key, I’ve found, is in creating a business that feels right for you, and running it in a way that feels right for you. Because there are so many benefits than can outweigh both the downsides and the fears. Think of it this way. By having your own business:
- There’s a lot more job security.
- Your income is up to you based on how much you put into it.
- An additional stream of income or a backup plan (if you also have a job)
- You can create a business that works with the lifestyle you want (otherwise called a ‘lifestyle business’).
- You’re the boss.
- You can make a positive impact on people’s lives in the way that resonates with you.
- You can create a business around what you’re passionate about, are good at or just plain enjoy doing if the market will pay for it. And that means you get to wake up every day excited to do what you choose to do.
- You can leave a legacy for your family and/or future generations.
I’ve talked with so many people (women mostly) about starting a business based on their skills, personality and expertise. Usually, they respond, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea. I’ve always thought about having a business. But mmmm….I can’t see myself doing it, at least not now. I’ll think about it. I have [XYX] to deal with now.’ And they never do anything about it.
There’s always something on our plate to get past in order to add something else.
I completely get that response of feeling like now is not the time (and no doubt, I’ve used it). But what I’ve learned, is that we never feel ready. Ever. You’ll almost never feel like now is the time. We always call time and money as the reason we can’t move forward. Yet if we look at where we spend our time and money it’s usually not spent on the things that matter to us. We’re usually in reactive mode instead of proactive. When we got more purposeful, we usually do find there’s time for the things we want.
But then behind that, there’s fear. And the chance you may never get to see what you’d create if you just went for it.
So here’s a question: What would you be doing if you had zero fear and no obstacles? That is, no money or other obstacles in your way. That’s a question to ask yourself at least yearly (because the answer changes as we change). That thing you’d do is something to consider tapping into in some way.
Usually there’s some limiting belief you hold from childhood that makes you afraid to take that step.
Maybe you feel you’re not smart enough, focused enough, credentialed enough or worthy of success. Or maybe you fear success or failure (we usually fear success more than failure). But these are faulty beliefs, and are typically not based on truth. I believe every person can create and nurture and grow an amazing business if they set their intention on it, and take small consistent daily actions to make it happen. If only they allowed themselves to explore and overcome the beliefs that hold them back. And you can always test the water in some small way and change your mind or try something else.
As I said, it’s true that entrepreneurship can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s what you create it to be. It’s less stressful if you do your homework. (When we started our business many years ago, we were clueless).
You can start with something small and simple to manage. For example, I know someone who helps people fix their computers. He talks at libraries and local events and get clients from there. Others knit baby blankets and sell them on Etsy. Or you can go big, where you grow so much you have to hire employees. The best part of owning a business is that it’s up to you. You can design it around the lifestyle you want, the type of people you want to hang out with, the hours you want to work, and the location you want to work from. If it’s an online or remote business, you can have the freedom of working and making money from anywhere in the world.
My next question is, why not now? Why not start slowly? You can build a bridge from where you are now to the dream you have. For example, make it a side hustle until you grow it enough to move into it full time. Do something small that doesn’t cost much upfront, that you can build on, even as you continue your current job.
Where do you start?
Start by reading about people who started their businesses from scratch and see what resonates for you. For example, Carrie Wilkerson’s The Barefoot Executive: The Ultimate Guide to Being Your Own Boss and Achieving Financial Freedom. Or The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.
Then when it comes to the logistics, read up on how you go about properly creating a business and keeping it organized. There are articles galore on LegalZoom.com. My friend, financial planner Cady North also has some great articles on starting a business, which you can find here. I’d also suggest reading The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. (It’s typically not hard to start a small business yourself, but if you don’t feel confident, get legal help).
In the meantime, I want to leave you with a quote from the great Maya Angelou: “When we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls.” No matter what you do in your work or in life, whether you work for others or for yourself, make your decisions based on what you want, not based on fear. Follow your dreams. Be bold.
Have a question or a story to share about starting your own business? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
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