Today, I want to share with you what I think was the smartest thing I did when I started my own business.
No doubt you’ve heard lots of stories on the web from people telling you how they were down to their last penny, but splashed out on an expensive training program on their credit card and it was the making of them.
Now if that’s something you’ve done, then all power to you. And taking that kind of risk is fine if it’s just you. But when you have a husband or wife and kids, I don’t think going into debt to finance your dream is a smart move.
I think it puts too much pressure on you and it’s unfair to your loved ones.
(It’s also funny how the people telling you this magical story about them going into debt and it working out great for them always happens to have an expensive course they want you to buy on your credit card, isn’t it?)
While there are definitely people who’ve successfully been through this “debt to success” scenario, what we don’t hear from is the many people who did the exact same thing but didn’t make it and ended up in big financial trouble.
I followed a different path.
I decided I wanted to set up my own business in early 2007. But I didn’t just quit my job, load up my credit cards and start trying to make a go of it. I had a big mortgage to pay and my family to look after.
Instead, I made the decision, but knuckled down and kept going with my job for another nine months.
Three Key Ways to Prepare to Start Up
During those nine months I did three things.
First, I started putting money aside to make sure we had a safety net for when I did start up on my own.
Second, I started going to networking events and seminars where I met people who were already running their own businesses. In essence, I built my network and became part of the entrepreneurial community before becoming an entrepreneur.
And finally, I did a *lot* of reading.
I bought books on small business finance, law, bookkeeping, and of course marketing and sales.
I was working away from home during the week (one of the big reasons I wanted to quit and do my own thing) so I spent 3 or 4 hours almost every night with my head in a book learning what I needed to do to succeed with my own business.
Of course, you can’t learn everything from books: some things you’ve got to experience.
But it meant that when I did pull the trigger in November 2007, I didn’t have to waste time getting up to speed and learning the basics of business. Nor did I have to start from scratch with a business plan or the fundamentals of marketing and selling. I’d worked it all through in my evenings while still earning a salary.
Today, if anyone asks for my advice on quitting their job and starting a business I suggest they take this “less macho” route. Get everything sorted out in advance. Work extra shifts if necessary to make sure you have safety money for when you go it alone.
The “take a big risk” route looks great for the few who succeed with it and tell their exciting roller-coaster story later. But for a much more sure-fire route to success, follow my more conservative three-point plan.
You won’t come out of it with an exciting rags-to-riches story you can tell at conferences. But you will come out of it much more likely to succeed.
Ian Brodie helps consultants, coaches, and other professionals to attract and win more clients. He’s the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Email Persuasion and has been named as one of the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders in Marketing and Sales and one of the “resources of the decade” for professional services marketing. You can get more of his in-depth tips on starting and growing your business at www.ianbrodie.com