By: Branden Valentine
So, you want to be a business owner? Great, I’m here to help you out. Before we start, I know you’re probably asking yourself- What experience does he have? Great question!
I have been an independent self-employed barber for a total of 7 years, I have owned a barbershop for the last 4; Slabtown Barbershop located in Portland Oregon. Come on I had to plug the shop in there somehow. Also, in spring of 2019 I started an organic coffee company called “Dead Before Coffee” which can be bought online at valentinecutsandcoffee.com ……here I go shouting myself out again. Last but not least I am a copywriter, obliviously. I know that’s a lot but when I was working, I reached a point where I didn’t want to be employed by anyone again. This meant I had to work my ass off, you will too! Lucky for you, I’m here to provide you with some tips that will make starting your business easier.
Do not go into business for yourself because you want to set your own hours and work less, you won’t, it’s a lie.
I’m not sure who started that saying, but you WILL work more hours when working for yourself, than working for someone else. It may be more rewarding working for yourself, but you will absolutely not work less!
2. Lesson number two, you will fail a lot!
Being self-employed is not for the weak. You are going to have to try new things, things that you may not be comfortable with, and you are going to be terrible at them, it’s ok.
I had to get those two items out the way because they are going to be a recurring theme throughout this blog. Now, you want to be self-employed AND you have an idea of what you want to do? Great!
3. Dedicate a certain amount of time each week to work on creating your business plan.
Even if you don’t plan to hire anyone you still need a business plan. In truth you will need two business plans, one is a one-page plan, and the second is a detailed action plan.
How to create a business plan
The first business plan is the one page snap-shot of what the business is, it’s basically essential simplified sections of your larger business plan. I live by the acronym K.I.S.S. keep it simple stupid. It’s easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of the original plan, that’s why I suggest doing the one pager first, it helps to center your thinking when you’re down a rabbit hole.
This page should have 5 sections:
Overview-What are you selling? Target audience? How will your business help people?
Marketing– How will customers find you? How will you encourage referrals?
Finance– What will you charge? How will you get paid? How many ways can you make money from this project? How will you fund this venture?
Measurements for success– Number of customers being served? Annual net income? How will you know you are making progress?
Obstacles or challenges– What’s the biggest potential problem and what is the potential solution?
All this should on one page, this will keep you focused on the big picture. I’m sure you can imagine how detailed the other business plan needs to be. It should have every conceivable detail, every items cost, every person you need to talk to. A lot of people believe your business plan is for the bank, it’s not, it’s for you. When things get crazy like they are going to get it will help settle your nerves and keep you on track. In all my plans I would put a small paragraph explaining why I did something. There have been times when I’m looking over my business plan and ask myself “What the hell was I thinking?” It happens, it will continue to happen.
4. You have to protect your time!
It is super important; time leaches are a real thing. There are people and things that will eat all your extra time. I divide my time into 4 categories; Development, Work, Family and Recharge. It will not be an equal division in the beginning, something is not going to get your full attention. When I first started my family suffered, specifically my wife but that story is for another article. In the beginning work is going to consume all your time and energy, if it doesn’t then your business might flop. After about a year, things will normalize and by then you should have either hired someone to ease the load or your business should be in a routine that doesn’t need constant supervision. It’s easy to want to start the recharge phase and you should, but not yet. It’s super important to give some time to development, depending on how extensive your business plan was or how your growth is going you will need a plan for the future, part of business is keeping your eyes on the horizon. I’m not encouraging you to follow my example, but I split up my week like this: Wed-Saturday= work, Sun= family, Mon=development/work, Tuesday=recharge. It isn’t pretty I know but I’m a maniac and I love what I do. You are going to have to find something that works for you, if you don’t make time for family or recharge something is going to give out.
5. Lastly, create a budget!
At some point during the starry eye dream of being a business owner you are going to have to figure out how the hell are you going to pay for everything. Sometimes funding everything up front is not an option, so exactly how are you going to build that bad boy and not go bankrupt before your first sell? You have 3 options: 1) Bank 2) Partner 3) You.
Some would argue there are more but naw, I don’t believe it! Everything else is a variation of that list. Banks want their money back at some point, so all your documents have to be in order to go this route. What’s good about this is the money will be available immediately and your payments will be consistent. What’s bad is you owe that money no matter what, if your business fails you still owe.
Taking a partner is a great way to increase capital and take some of the responsibility off your shoulders. You have to choose your partner wisely; you can do it with a friend, but things get tough sometimes and at some point, during a partnership you are going to fight and rub each other the wrong way. You also lose some control, instead of it being your dream it becomes a group dream, the more partners you have the more diluted the dream becomes. When taking on partners always and I mean always create contract that includes a buyout, please.
Depending on the type of business, you can get it started by taking a percentage of your paycheck over the course of a year while you build your business plan and prepare for the jump into independence. If I had known how fun and inexpensive writing for a living was, I would have done that first but hey you live and learn. Going into business for myself was one of the best decisions I have ever made, it is a lot of work and you will sacrifice somethings, but it is so worth it. There is no greater feeling than waking up and looking at the business or businesses you’ve created and knowing you are controlling your destiny.
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