In my role as an executive recruiter, I find that about 1 in every 30 executives is interested in going out on their own as an independent contractor or launching their own business. I get it.
Half of working adults in the US own or want to own their own businesses, according to a 2014 University of Phoenix School of Business survey. Of working Americans who don’t own a business, nearly two-in-five (39 percent) hope to in the future. That’s especially true of digital-savvy millennials.
Nothing, however, prepares you for the intense learning curve when it comes to going at it alone. You may face a lack of adequate finances, education, training, time management or leadership skills. Added to that, the odds of success are dicey, and the hours long: About half of small businesses survive at least five years, statistics show, and their owners say they work 50 hours or more each week.
“Starting your own business can be an exciting and fulfilling pursuit, but requires significant planning, resources and business knowledge,” said Michael Bevis, an entrepreneur who teaches business at the University of Phoenix. “Many potential entrepreneurs have great ideas and a strong understanding of specific industries, but often do not have the business background to turn concepts into profitable ventures.”
That said, many people have a good idea of what they would change if they were in charge of their workplaces. And still others don’t want to wait until some undefined “right time” to step out on their own. They have the confidence that they can gain freedom and flexibility, learn on the job, do better—and earn more—than working for their current employers.
I founded Talentfoot nearly a decade ago because I saw a need in the market for a highly specialized boutique search firm dedicated to digital business. I had a burning desire to fill that need, and admit that my naiveté, in fact, became a blessing. On the one hand, I had saved for years and refined my craft. On the other, I had no idea how hard—or how rewarding—it would be. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tempted? Here are 7 signs you are ready to be your own boss:
You’re feeling stymied. You constantly see ways to make improvements at your organization but have little runway to make the changes happen. As an employee, I saw so many chances to better the experience for my clients and job seekers. I knew my workplace required an overhaul
, and that I had to start from scratch. For you, maybe a toxic boss is a good reason to push off on your own.
You want to strike while the iron is hot. You see an existing need in the market that no one else is fulfilling (or doing well), and you have the grit, confidence, and tenacity to put in the hard work. By hard work, I’m talking 12-hour days during the week and 5 to 10 hours of uninterrupted time on the weekends. Ten years later and I still work almost every Saturday morning for a few hours, all before 9am.
You feel driving need to create, build, nurture. You’re excited about a business idea and the prospect of meaningful and enjoyable work. And if you don’t pursue your vision, you know you’ll live to regret it. “Work is life, life is work,” says Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. “When work is something you are passionate about, it’s not about work or life; it’s just life.” This mentality is the precise reason I don’t mind the Saturday mornings at my desk.
You’re motivated to create a strong workplace culture. You are deeply committed to developing diverse teams who can produce stellar results. You think about work as building a business family, whose members enjoy working with you and for you. You imagine a place where most days don’t feel like work.
You’re a planner. Does the concept of writing a business plan excite you more than planning anything else for your future? If so, that’s when you know you’re onto something.
You’re a doer. You’re a self-starter who can multitask and get sh*t done! I have always been told that I work at an exceptional pace and have a high capacity to manage a lot of different tasks. These qualities are absolute requirements if you want to be a builder.
You’re willing to take risks. No one starts a business with a guarantee of success, but planning, determination, and vision, along with the guidance and support of others, puts the odds on your side. More than that, you recognize the importance of resilience and know you can learn from mistakes and move on.
What is the business idea that obsesses you? Or, if you’re a business owner already, what other signs did you have when you knew it was time to go out on your own? Tell us here!