Starting out as an entrepreneurial small business owner has never been easier and, in many ways, it’s never made more sense as a long-term move than now. The days of one-company careers are pretty much done and dusted. These days, you’ll be lucky if you manage to stay put in one industry let alone happily serve out your time with just one firm.
And the nature of modern working contracts is not one that gives a huge amount of security in most circumstances either. Often, you’re being asked to assume many of the risks of a freelancer for very little actual guarantees in return.
In this kind of general environment, the appeal of striking out on your own and being master of your own destiny by building your own business is undeniably strong. There is, however, one massive risk that must be addressed as early as possible to give you the best chance of success.
Are we talking about the risk of terrifying uncertainty that comes with setting up shop on your own? Or the inevitably long hours that will be involved? The spectre of finally having total and complete responsibility for success or failure? Not at all.
The biggest risk starting off is that you pour all your efforts into building a job rather than a business.
Why is this such a huge potential problem? Let’s make it obvious. If you’re going to break your back setting up a new venture, there’s little worse than finding out that you’ve essentially replicated all the worst aspects of your previous environment but with a huge additional load of stress and responsibility.
You do not want to wake up one day and realise you hate your boss, your job, your co-workers and your company and have it dawn on you that all of those people are basically you!
So, what are the differences between building a business and building a job? Let’s briefly step through some core ones:
- A business scales, a job can only be carried out by one person.
- A business has processes, priorities and personnel in place.
- A business has built-in redundancies. If a key employee is sick or the market takes a dive, a business has provisions in place to handle temporary setbacks.
- A business can be valued and potentially sold. It exists as a separate entity.
- A business has diverse revenue streams.
We could go on and on with different examples but the key question to take on board as a solo entrepreneur is whether your business relies entirely on you for its existence or not. If the answer is yes, you have a job not a business.
Many successful businesses start off relying nearly completely on an initial founder so there is nothing intrinsically wrong with passing through this stage but a stage is all it should be. In terms of what you’re actually building – the goal you’re moving towards – it has to be a business rather a job.
Drill this concept into your head as soon as possible, use it to navigate the often choppy waters you will invariably hit along the way, and you are giving yourself the best possible chance of long-term success!