You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to Be The Boss

7th December 2015

After more than 25 years working in a corporate environment, I recently took a huge step by turning my passion and expertise for B2B marketing into my own business where I can #BetheBoss. So it’s been with real interest that I’ve been reading the LinkedIn series of posts where professionals share how they embrace the entrepreneurial mindset –  see the stories here then write your own (please be sure to use #BeTheBoss in the post).

BeTheBossBut I’m not an entrepreneur and have never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. To me, the essence of an entrepreneur is the intrinsic need or desire to constantly create a new business. I’m not interested in continually starting up companies, and for most of my working life I thought I would never go into business for myself because only ‘entrepreneurs’ start their own businesses and I just wasn’t one.

However, over the past few years, as I have tentatively inched closer to leaving the corporate life, I’ve realised that you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to start your own business. Like me, you simply need to have a passion that you can turn into a business.

But passion alone is not enough and starting a business is far from simple.

3 key questions to ask yourself

  1. What is stopping me? And the answer to that, most often, is FEAR – fear of failure, fear of not being able to earn a living, fear of ‘not being good enough’…I could go on. Just the thought of leaving my very comfortable job and steady paycheck was extremely scary. Like most people, I have a mortgage, a lifestyle and obligations that require an income. But fear is healthy as long as it doesn’t stop you from doing what you really want to do; fear means you understand the risks and if you understand the risks then you can do things to mitigate those risks. For me that meant planning and preparation and giving myself a timeline.
  1. Why do I want to go into business for myself? In other words, what is my purpose? What’s motivating me? And what do I want to achieve? I needed to be very clear about why I was willing to give up all the plusses of my corporate life for what would be an uncertain future. One of the best posts I’ve read in this #BetheBoss series was one where a restauranteur stated that he didn’t want to ‘just’ open a restaurant, he wanted to change the way people thought about food. This is the kind of clarity I wanted to have for my own business.
  1. What am I actually going to do? What is my business going to be? It’s easy to say ‘I’m a consultant’ but what did this actually mean for me? I spent many months researching the market, writing my business plan, and articulating my specific service offering, ensuring it aligned to my purpose, and gaining real clarity around what I did and did not want to do. And I realised that this meant there was going to be work that I would purposely walk away from…not easy to do when no work means no income.

Network , network, network

I started planning for going out on my own a few years before I actually did. At the time, it was nothing more concrete than thinking I might like to start my own marketing consultancy ‘one day’. But it started me thinking about what I needed to do so that when the time came I would be ready for it.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of networking – no matter where you are or what you may do in your career. And if you are going into business for yourself, it is critical to build your profile and credibility – your personal brand – in your chosen markets before you start your business and to build relationships before you need them. These relationships and networks can provide much-needed support in the early days of your business, as well as a sounding board for your ideas and a reality check for your plans. And, importantly, your first customers are most likely to come from these networks.

So, don’t worry if you’re not an entrepreneur. You can still follow your dream. Because you are the boss.

Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.

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