When to start your own business

by Peter Crocker

How do you know exactly when the time is just right to take the plunge and start your own business? The answer is surprisingly simple: never.

There will never be a day when you cross the last task off your list and say “Great, that’s all done – time to work for myself.”

Now, I really dislike those ‘do it now’, ‘you only live once’ sort of articles. So heaven knows why I’m currently shaping up to write one!

Recently I have spoken at length to a couple of people who have a genuine desire to start something on their own, but they have a host of perfectly logical reasons why next year or the year after will be the ideal time.

I completely understand where they are coming from, because I’d always wanted to work for myself, but stuffed around for ages before actually doing anything about it.

Here are some of the many things that were on my ‘I’m just waiting until…’ list:

“After Christmas, nothing happens over the holidays”

“I get a bit more experience under my belt – I’m probably too young anyway.”

“I’ve taken some time to travel a little.”

“I can save up a bit of a deposit for a property.”

“I come up with a world-changing business idea.” (damn Google!)

“After I get that pay rise they promised me a year ago.”

“I get a few days to write a solid business plan”

“We get the hang of this brand new baby thing.”

I have no doubt that it would have gone forever until one day I thought to myself: “What ever happened to that business I used to waffle on about on Sundays over a few coffees, and then promptly forget during Monday morning WIP meetings?”

The only reason I did get around to going solo was because I really had very little choice. After three months of leaving for work before my newborn daughter woke up and getting back after her bedtime, I had one of those 100 watt light bulb moments where you understand that there just has to be a better way. I gave four weeks’ notice and that was that.

If it wasn’t for a baby dropping into our life four years ago, I’m sure I’d still be working my way efficiently through that list. Now where was I up to? Until…

“The kids get a bit less demanding”

“We get the orthodontist fees out of the way.”

“After I get my boss’ job”

“I retire – I’ll have heaps of time then.”

“I get back that naïve passion and energy I once had.”

I really don’t mean to get all depressing on you, but unless life presents you with some sort of wake-up call that makes the decision for you, there will be a point where you’ll need to decide that today’s the day.

There are many perfectly valid reasons why now might not be the perfect time to start your own business. It’s just that this will always be the case.

One of the major problems I see are the Golden Handcuffs. The higher you get in your ‘real’ job the harder it is to escape it. Because, as your lifestyle expands to match your income you have little choice but to maintain your income to support it. And, whenever you consider starting your business, you’re always faced with the demotivating burden of replacing your existing income before you even start.

The earlier you give it a go, the less there is to lose. And the more years of life there are to gain.

So there it is – another one of those damn pesky and preachy ‘just do it’ articles.

My apologies!

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