Congratulations! You’ve got a great idea for a business or maybe you’ve got a side hustle that’s starting to pick up steam. But… how do you know if your business actually has legs? And are you ready to walk the talk?
Thousands of people start a business for the first time every year. With starting a business from home becoming easier than ever thanks to technology, we’re seeing a rise in the amount of Australians choosing to throw caution to the wind and give it a red-hot go. In fact, recent Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures report a 15.2 per cent increase in businesses with one to four employees from July 2020 to June 2021 – indicating a growth in microbusinesses during COVID-19.
The difference between businesses that will last and those that won’t comes down to three things: passion, planning and getting the right support on your way up.
Now, let’s get more specific. Here’s are the exact signs that will help you know if it’s time to take the leap into running your own business.
1. You’re not just in it to make money
If making money is your sole aim in starting a business, you’re likely to give up at the first hurdle.
Running a business is challenging. There’s no guaranteed regular pay cheque, superannuation, sick pay or paid holidays. You have to pay for all your equipment, software, insurance, website, accounting, training and many other outgoings.
And while you may think that being your own boss means you’ll work fewer hours, it’s most likely you’ll be working a tonne more, especially in the beginning.
So, you need to be passionate about what you do. Having a purpose will help to keep you motivated when the going gets tough – and it will.
In my own case, I specialise in the vegan and plant-based business space because my mission is to help make the world kinder for all beings. That means on days when everything’s going wrong, technology lets me down and I ‘hate my job’, my ‘why’ kicks in and keeps me on track.
2. You’ve worked out your niche
The riches are in the niches (this sounds better if you say it like the Americans: ‘nitches’). It can be tempting, especially when you’re starting out in your business, to try to appeal to everyone. Many solopreneurs are too scared to lock in a niche in case they miss out on making sales or getting hired.
But the opposite is true. When you market to everyone you end up marketing to no one. You’re just another cog in the wheel of whatever industry you’re in, with no real point of difference.
It took me a while to plaster ‘vegan’ all over my LinkedIn profile because I was nervous of missing out on potential work. But once I took the leap, it worked in my favour as I started to attract my ideal clients (and I still get offered work outside the vegan niche if I want it).
So choose your niche carefully: What lights you up? Who do you genuinely want to serve?
3. The timing is right
There’s no perfect time to start a business. It depends on your own life circumstances. You have to weigh up your current commitments, finances and desire. Be careful not to use these as excuses to procrastinate. You’ll know deep down when it’s time to fly solo.
Take note too of trends in the marketplace. For example, the plant-based business sector is on a massive growth spurt, so if you’ve always wanted to start your own vegan cheese business, now is a great time to ride the wave.
4. You’re honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses
‘Fake it till you make it!’ ‘Say yes and figure out how!’ These catch-cries are spouted by many business gurus, but embrace them with caution.
We know that growth happens outside our comfort zones so yes, it’s important to appear confident to prospective customers and clients, even if you’re not. But there’s a difference between simply feeling a bit jittery because you’re a new business owner and just getting used to all that comes with that, and not being confident in your abilities.
If someone’s hiring you for a specialist service or product, make sure you can deliver it and wow them.
Make a list of your strengths, as well as areas you’re not so good in. For example, if you’re amazing at designing products but not building them, make sure you outsource the latter or partner with others who have those skills.
In the beginning as a solopreneur, you’ll likely be bootstrapping and doing everything yourself and while you can choose to upskill in certain areas, at some point you’re best to outsource the things you’re not good at so you can focus on your strengths.
5. OK, you have some money sense
While as we noted earlier, money should not be the sole reason you start your business, it is, nevertheless, important to manage your finances well.
At the end of the day, your business needs to make a profit, otherwise you just have an expensive hobby.
This is where a business plan comes in. It doesn’t have to a be a long, fancy document, it simply needs to set out how you’ll get the money to start your business, your intended customers, why they’ll buy your product or service over others, and how you’ll market yourself.
Make a list of expenses you’ll need to start the business, as well as ongoing ones. This includes marketing.
Many solopreneurs fail to allocate a marketing budget and while there are ways to promote your business without spending money, the ‘cost’ typically comes with your time. Make sure you track your return on investment with any paid marketing activities.
Finally, have a separate bank account for your business so you can track your expenses and tax deductions super clearly. Look for an account with a zero monthly fee option, and one that connects to accounting software, like CommBank’s Business Transaction Account.*
Ready to take action?
There’s only one thing to do: get started!
Flying Solo is proud to launch our first-ever free Starting Out Kit for side hustles and new businesses. Full of checklists and downloadables, you’ll learn how to nail your niche, write a killer business plan and marketing plan, and more. All thanks to our partner, CommBank.
This article is brought to you by Flying Solo in partnership with CommBank, helping small businesses make big moves.
*You can view the Terms and Conditions for Business Transaction and Savings Accounts, CommBank’s Financial Services Guide and the Electronic Banking Terms and Conditions and should consider them before making any decision about these products and services. The target market for this product will be found within the product’s Target Market Determination, available here. Bank fees and charges may apply.
This information is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. As this information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Any opinions, views of contributors, conclusions or recommendations are reasonably held or made, based on the information available of compilation, but no representation or warranty, either expressed or implied, is made or provided as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of any statement made in this information.
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