Boss causing you grief this Blue Monday? Carl Reader, chairman of Swindon-based business advisory d&t, can help you work out if you're ready to go it alone
Mondays can get us down at work, and this one’s allegedly the most miserable of the lot – it’s Blue Monday. But the 'most depressing day of the year' isn't the only time we Brits struggle with workplace blues. According to the government's Mental Health and Work Report 2008, at any one time, one-sixth of the UK's working age population are experiencing symptoms associated with mental ill health such as sleep problems, fatigue, irritability and worry.
But what if you could do something about it? One in seven of us - that’s an astonishing five and a half million Brits – run their own business today. More than ever before, the idea of ditching the 9-5 to pursue a dream of their own is a realistic prospect for millions. According to HMRC, 99% of businesses today are small businesses, and people all over the country today are considering whether it’s time to say goodbye to the day job and start their own business. Expert Carl Reader, founder of the #BeYourOwnBoss movement and chairman of business advisory firm d&t, asks the key questions to help you decide if the time is right:
Are you cut out to be in business?
You don’t need to be the next Richard Branson to start a business, but you do require a certain strength of character to handle the highs and lows of running a business. Are you prepared to work 18 hour days, and not have the certainty of a pay packet at the end of the week? Running a business, particularly in the early days, can test the nerves of even the most entrepreneurial individuals. Make sure you’re ready for it to be tough, and be prepared to be resilient.
Do you have family support?
One of the hardest things to hear after a bad day in business is “I told you so”. Make sure tcarl hat your family and dependents are comfortable with your decision to start your own business, and will help you through the tough times. Very few entrepreneurs are able to go it completely alone, so make sure you have some kind of support network of family, friends and/or mentors. Even if you’re the only one at the top making decisions, you will appreciate those who can support and ground you through the good and the bad, to help with decisions and pick you up when – at some inevitable point – you struggle or fall.
Do you have stability?
Whilst some level of risk actually helps to motivate you, you need to make sure that you are not facing a disastrous financial situation should the business not succeed as planned. Whilst you might give up some luxuries in the early days, try to make sure that you are able to put food on the table and look after any dependents. Don’t put yourself in a problematic position. That said, much like having a child, “there is never a right time” as the old saying goes. We could always be more prepared, with more savings and a bigger comfort blanket…
Is your business idea unique?
Many entrepreneurs believe that they need to have a completely unique business. This is simply not true. In fact, in my experience, often these are the businesses that fail, as the market simply isn’t ready for them yet. That said, however, your business will need to be unique in some way - either in how it does things internally, or the external benefits that the customer receives. This will become your “unique selling proposition” (USP), which will set you apart from your competition. If you haven’t found this yet, you need to spend some time working out how your idea will be different before launching.
Do you have a robust plan?
Most business owners prepare business plans for the banks so that they can get funding, after which the plans are filed in a drawer somewhere. Whilst I’m not a fan of long-winded business plans, you do need to have a strong vision of what you are trying to achieve, and how you are going to get there. This could be as simple as a few sentences, or a long document - whichever way you prefer to prepare it, it needs to be actionable, and in alignment with your personal goals as well as your business goals. Make sure your aims are high, but achievable. Try to keep time frames for goals short and manageable – I recommend aiming for 90 day sprints rather than an annual reflection process. Having a relevant strategy plan for your business can be the make or break of its survival.
Do you have transferable skills?
Whilst you might not have experience in every skill that the new business requires, you should take note of the skills that you can bring to the table. You might have sales skills, technical skills, or administration skills that can help propel your business to success. If there’s an area you’re not so sure of, it might be worth seeking out advice or a course you can take to top up your knowledge. If you have some large gaps, it might be worth considering purchasing a franchise which can give you an existing brand and system to work within, or employing a team from day one to help patch up your weaker areas.
Starting a new business is exhilarating. There is no perfect time, and zero risk is impossible, but unless you take the right chance, you’ll never know. Starting and running a business isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s easy to be sucked into the negative headlines and fear the worst for business, but if you have strong motivation and a sound business idea with a robust plan, working for yourself might just be a closer reality than you think.