How to Successfully Leap from Employee to Entrepreneur
March 15, 2016
Leaping from employee to entrepreneur is an exciting jump, but it’s important to take the plunge with your eyes wide open.
While there may be many perks to entrepreneurial life, being your own boss can come with its challenges.
Take a look at any legitimate business owner’s calendar and you’ll be shocked at the sheer volume of things to do. So many meetings and the juggling of such varied tasks that it’s a wonder how they get any sleep at all.
As you’re getting ready to take the leap from employee to entrepreneur, take some time to get up to speed on what types of hurdles you’ll be faced with and the mindset you’ll need to overcome them.
Considering leaving the employee life behind and taking the leap to full-time entrepreneurship? Here are some things to think through:
1. Consider Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
If you’ve been an employee your whole life, it’s safe to say that this is going to be a new experience for you. Generally speaking, your career has been built around putting out fires. After all, that’s what you’ve been hired to do. Dealing with short-term issues is what’s been expect of you.
Now, as a business owner, you can’t just focus on short-term solutions. If you do, you run the risk of losing your competitive advantage or stagnating due to lack of vision. The idea is to start considering how your actions (and the actions of your competitors) will shape your industry for the next few months. Eventually, you’ll be thinking about how a decision today will impact the industry years from now.
This is clearly something that might not come naturally, at first. Fortunately for you, once you get the hang of it, it’ll be difficult to think of business in any other way. Over time, your mind will be able to identify the red flags for potential problems down the line. With enough experience, you’ll be able to develop a better sense of potential opportunities for your business as well.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Break Things
The life of a typical corporate employee is built around a few basic principles. One of the most universally understood principles is “break the rules, and you’re fired”. Frankly, it makes sense. The C-level execs have a vision for the company and any employee that doesn’t subscribe to that vision is just getting in the way of progress.
As a business owner and CEO, your job is to find new and profitable ways to break the rules. By “rules”, I mean the traditional way of doing things. Ditch conventional wisdom and figure out what the new perspective is.
Innovation is the cornerstone of success (especially if you run a small business). So, if you’re looking to be a truly spectacular entrepreneur, your best bet is figuring out how you can best challenge the status quo.
3. Accept That This is 24/7
Remember how I mentioned at the beginning of this article that an entrepreneur’s schedule can be a bit jarring? Well, that’s something you’d better get used to as a new business owner.
Having a 9-5 can be challenging, but at least it has the benefit of being relatively predictable and contained. Generally, you know what you’ll be doing and when the clock strikes five, you’re done.
As the title of this section would suggest, there’s really no off time for an entrepreneur. Sure, you may have a few regular recurring tasks, but with a schedule that’s constantly changing, it’s hard to get settled into a routine.
Beyond that, you’ll be reading up on the latest developments in your industry, keeping an eye on your competitors and doing plenty of work off the clock to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
Instead of trying to resist this lifestyle, learn to accept that this is your life now. Once you do, force yourself to aggressively carve out time for your family and friends. The most successful business owners accept their limitations and make sure their personal life has a place in their professional one.
Having a 9-5 can be challenging, but at least it has the benefit of being relatively predictable and contained.
4. Focus on Progress
Being an employee means that someone hired you based on your specific skills. Ideally, you were a perfect fit for your role and for the company as a whole. As a business owner, one of the worst things you can do is expect yourself to be a perfect from the very beginning.
There will always be a few mistakes and miscalculations on your end. There’s no training when you need to learn something new. Instead of beating yourself up when you stumble, use those mistakes as learning experiences and more importantly, learn to fixate on growing a bit more (personally and as a company) every day.
The most effective way to do that? Get used to feeling uncomfortable. If you’re not sure how to do something, that’s where you’ll learn the most. Even if you suffer a minor setback, that learning experience can help build the idea for the next brilliant idea your business produces.
5. Streamline Your Life
I’ve covered a few of the more interesting aspects of shifting from life as an employee to life as a business owner. Now, here’s the most critical aspect of being an entrepreneur: learning how to streamline your life.
If you’re not careful, being a business owner could consume every moment of your waking life. There will always be people that want to talk to you/need something from you. If you’re not able to put up firm boundaries, there’s no chance that you’ll have any peace of mind.
So, here’s the secret to streamlining your life: Master the art of saying “no”. Primarily, you want to start by saying no to potential distractions. If it’s not making you money or adding to your overall happiness, it has no place in your life. Eventually, you want to start saying no to certain things at work.
Honestly, it’d be impossible for you to say yes to everything that’s asked of you. So, focus on creating a set of priorities. Anything that doesn’t fit into that criteria gets a gentle but firm no. Otherwise, you’ll end up drained, disoriented and your business will suffer because of it.
This is an archived post from the FreshBooks Blog and was originally published in March 2016.
about the author
Chelsei Henderson is a content marketing consultant helping freelancers and entrepreneurs build successful companies in the digital world.