By Carl Burnham
This question is bound to come up at some point if you have ever thought about taking the plunge and starting something up. It has plagued entrepreneurs ever since a caveman had to choose between joining another caveman’s rock carving business, or go out on his own.
You’re at a fork in the road. Whether you’ve just finished high school, your University degree or have been working for a little while, you have a big decision to make. One that has the potential to shape your lifestyle now and into the foreseeable future.
Your parents will tell you to take the job with the well-known firm. Your Uni lecturers are going to remind you why you have been studying the last 4 years. Some of your friends will tell you what you want to hear, others will tell you what they really think. Most will tell you to go the safe route, the tried and tested route. They care about you and don’t want to see you fail.
At the end of the day the only person whose opinion matters is the one making the decision. In this case that would be you. Deep down you know which way you will go, the way that will make you the happiest.
If you think you know already, then by all means stop reading here. The following is purely a few points that might help you along the way and hopefully provide some inspiration. The main aim is to give you a hand breaking down some of the fear surrounding entrepreneurship and see it as a viable alternative path to a corporate career. I understand it may come across as bias, so feel free to email me a response. Besides, you already know what you want to do anyway, right?
1. It’s risky.
You bet it is, but answer this. What do you have to lose?
The majority of people reading this will not have:
- Mortgages/ big debt
- Ongoing financial obligations
Even if you do there are ways to deal with it, you could even use it as extra motivation to succeed. Keep in mind though that selling your house and adopting your children should be last resorts.
Stop reading here and make a short list of all the things you have to lose.
What is the worst that could happen?
Well, what is it? You might have to move back in with your parents for a little, get a job pouring beers for a few months at the local pub and rebuild from there. If you played your cards right you won’t be in huge debt to the banks, the Russian mafia won’t be knocking at the door for a visit, and you will have all your limbs intact.
Think about it for a minute and write down the worst possible situation you may face if you fail.
2. I don’t have enough money.
Most entrepreneurs start out with barely anything, creatively coming up with ways to raise funds and get projects happening with other means.
Yes you may have to live like a Uni student in the beginning, eating noodles and going for dinner at Mum and Dad’s a few times a week. Yes you may only be able to afford to see movies on a Tuesday night and go out one night a week, but that’s not too bad is it?
There is no reason you can’t work part time whilst you get the business going. There are plenty of entrepreneurs waiting tables, bartending and finding places to work that don’t require much thought outside of working hours.
Besides, in Australia there are specially designed programs to help up and coming entrepreneurs out. You just need to know where to look.
Business Victoria offers a variety of grants and sponsorships to Victorian businesses upon application. They range from a few hundred dollars, up to tens of thousands for bigger ideas.
Here’s the link.
Another great helping hand is the NEIS program. This offers eligible applicants the equivalent of the Newstart allowance, (around $500 per fortnight), for the first 12 months of their business operating. This is meant to allow you to work on your business full time and have enough cash flow coming in to cover the basic rent, food and essentials. You can even work in a part-time job at the same time, as long as you put full time hours into your business. They provide a 6 week certificate III in Micro-business and offer mentors to help you navigate your first year of operation.
Check out the full details here.
It will be a lot of work, you can do it.
3. I need experience first. I need to start my career.
How many times have you heard this one? I want to start my own thing but first I need to get 5-10 years experience and then I will be ready to do it.
When are you ever ready? You need to jump in. Go. The water is cold at first but you will get used to it.
No doubt you will learn some great skills working for someone else, skills that will help when starting out on your own. But it doesn’t automatically get easier because you have them. Corporate skills are very different from entrepreneurial skills. With one you are a cog in a system, becoming learned in a particular skill set, the other you are the leader, a jack of all trades, constantly seeking innovation.
It may seem like a big deal right now, but confidence comes through experience. Just make sure it’s the right kind of experience. Things that once seemed impossible will become easy and things you never even dreamt of become the new impossible, ready to be taken on.
You’re eager to get started in your career, so postponing starting your own thing seems like the logical thing to do. You wouldn’t want to fall behind all the others that have started working already would you? But why not give it a shot for a year? See where it goes. If it’s not for you, apply for the Grad role next year, you will have a great story to tell at your interview and a heap of unique new skills.
Remember it’s rarely too early but it is regularly too late.
4. If I don’t make millions, I’ve failed.
Successful entrepreneurs know that it isn’t all about making millions or billions of dollars, although it’s a nice by-product of their hard work.
It is all in the mindset. The reason for starting something should be about creating meaning and change for the better. It should be about learning through experience and taking action.
It doesn’t mean material things can’t inspire you to do this, you need a reward for all the hard work you will be putting in. Having a higher meaning, greater than making huge money will be an awesome motivator when the times get tough. Having a constant thirst for knowledge will allow you to learn from both your successes and failures. Go in with a mindset like that, and you can never lose.
So, you’ve made it this far. Hopefully you’ve been inspired and are starting to break down those walls blocking your journey. The first step is always the hardest.
There is an old saying that “you don’t regret the things you do, but the things you do not”. It holds true for most things, ex-partners and ankle-breaking dance moves aside.
Live life with no regrets.
ideas start here…