As you head into work on Monday morning, dreading the 9-to-5 grind that’s waiting for you in the week ahead, you find yourself daydreaming once again about striking off on your own and starting a small business.
After all, you have plenty of skills and interests—why not turn them into your full-time job and become your own boss?
You’re not alone in the desire to turn your passion project into a full-fledged business. There were more than 28 million small businesses in the U.S. in 2015, according to the Small Business Administration. You could be next to join their ranks.
Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to open a small business, as traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts have started to give way to startups that are run entirely online. But no matter where your passions and skills lead you, there are tried-and-true business standards you shouldn’t ignore.
We enlisted the business pros to get their input on what you can expect from starting a small business.
Aspiring small business owners should consider…
Many aspiring entrepreneurs think it will be all fun, all the time to run a business based on something they love. But passion alone won’t keep your business afloat, warns Jess Freeman, Graphic and Web Designer at Jess Creatives.
“It’s still going to be hard,” Freeman says. “You can still have bad days with your passion.” So what’s the solution? A heaping dose of hard work.
“Keep putting in the work and stay consistent,” advises Holly Meyer, Web Designer and Coach for creative entrepreneurs. “Your hard work will pay off in due time. It took me a couple of years in business to realize that, but once I did, I started reaching a bigger audience and booking more clients than ever before.”
Though owning your own business is a popular option in the U.S., it probably isn’t the norm among your friends and family. Some of your biggest supporters may not understand the struggles you’ll face as a small business owner, which could result in an incredibly isolating experience.
“Having people around you who understand the unique challenges you’ll face is imperative to success,” says digital marketer Julienne DesJardins.
Attending conferences or earning a business degree are great ways to make connections with other aspiring business owners or potential mentors.
“For me, networking is not about selling something to someone,” says Kerstin Auer, owner of Kerstin Auer Freelance. “It's more about learning from each other what works and doesn't work and getting honest feedback.”
Most new small business owners are on a budget. This often means saving cash by doing everything themselves, from accounting to designing business cards to building a website. Cutting back on expenses isn’t a bad thing, but knowing when to hire help can save you time, money and stress in the long run.
“Outsource the things that aren't your strengths,” says Sara Frandina, Copywriter and Content Strategist at Sara Frandina Strategies. “Make it cost-effective by prioritizing what's going to bring the most return, and offer your skills in trade if you're truly bootstrapping.”
Other areas that are worth outsourcing are complicated or intimidating tasks that can truly harm your business if they’re not done correctly, such as filing taxes or setting up a business entity, says DesJardins.
Outsourcing certain tasks will be beneficial to your business’ bottom line. But other expenses can decrease your profitability without adding value to your business. It’s tough to tell the difference when you’re first starting out, but making wise spending decisions is vital if you want to find success.
DesJardins emphasizes the importance of being selective when investing in early stages of your business. “As you grow, you'll be able to expand,” she says. “But in the early stages, avoid the temptation to chase the latest and greatest tools.”
Focus on the resources that are necessary for your business’ growth and put the rest on hold for the time being. Not sure how to determine what matters most? Refer to those mentors we mentioned above!
Every business will have its ups and downs. The early days of a small business can be especially rough. A key trait of successful small business owners is the ability to push through the negativity and persevere until things take a turn for the better.
“It’s incredibly easy to become envious of other businesses that seemingly have it all together, Meyer says. She shares that negative self-doubts will creep up, making you believe that you aren’t talented enough to get your business off the ground. But it’s important to stay positive.
“Remember that everyone started somewhere,” Meyers says. “You are truly capable of more than you know.”
6. Starting now
Making the decision to start a small business is significant. It’s natural to experience fear and anxiety while you plan your business, but don’t let that apprehension hold you back from starting.
“Just start,” Frandina urges. She explains that she stalled for months on getting her business up and running. But she eventually decided to make a leap of faith and dive in without necessarily having all of the details figured out beforehand.
Risk aversion isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and you should definitely have plans. But “paralysis by analysis” is a real thing that can have the potential kill a business before it ever gets started. It wasn’t until Frandina was actively running her business and testing her methods that she was able to discover what worked and what didn’t.
Starting a small business takes hard work, resilience and dedication. But success is in reach with the help of these tips from those who have done it.
Are you ready to start your new job as a small business owner? Your passion and motivation is just the start. You’ll need a solid marketing strategy to get your business off the ground. Learn how to get started with our article, “8 Small Business Marketing Tips to Help You Make More with Less.”