The Buck Stops Here “I want to be my own boss” is a thought that has definitely crossed the minds of most corporate managers at some time in their careers. This thought had often crossed my mind as well.
It was in 2003 when I was 46 years old that I took the decision of quitting the corporate world after 25 years and take the plunge into the world of entrepreneurship. I had worked for ITC Ltd for 17 years and then in the world of aerospace for 8 years before I quit.
Everyone thought that I had taken leave of my senses when I walked out of a high paying high profile job. I was convinced that I was taking the right step. Yet most people hesitate to take this step for one reason or another.
Giving up what one has today, including a regular pay check and the perquisites that come with the job to pursue a “dream” definitely appears to be an intimidating challenge for anyone who is contemplating changing his status quo. Yet for people who have made this change, the realisation is why they took so long to take this step. It is never too late or too early to make a start.
Getting over one’s own fears and anxieties is possibly the biggest challenge that you will face. Ensuring support from one’s family helps every entrepreneur to take the plunge faster. If the home front is solidly behind the venture then the entrepreneur can press ahead to tackle the challenges with renewed vigour. Be prepared for a complete lifestyle change.
An entrepreneur’s job is a lonely one. Days will blend into nights and weekdays into weekends. No job will be too small or big and what you take for granted as a corporate manager will be a challenge you will have to address personally. Yet, the fruits of your efforts will be visible at the end of each day.
Find out what is your calling and stay the course. Once you have made up your mind on what you want to do, take a plunge with 100% commitment. Write out a realistic business plan for yourself. Part time entrepreneurial ventures have never succeeded. Once you have started your journey, you will be confronted with challenges that you would never have imagined. Yet, no challenge will be insurmountable.
Many ventures with high potential have failed because their promoter gave up when he was so close to seeing success. Many others have failed because the promoter started out with an outstanding idea but changed course based on a new whim. Funds will be a challenge when you start but will become a commodity when you start to succeed. A family investing its savings into a business is a strong message of confidence for any banker or private equity investor.
Manage cash very carefully – costs have a habit of running out of control and revenues lag behind what you may have planned for. As long as you are doing what you had thought you would, you will start to see light at the end of the tunnel, sooner than later.
Getting a strong management team and empowering them is essential for success but finding the right talent for a startup will be a challenge. Good managers will not agree to join a startup and a startup entrepreneur will not be able to afford such managers.
Therefore, it is necessary to draw upon skills of friends and family and part time managers to start any new enterprise. The promoter is also human and will make a lot of mistakes. This is when a good management team comes in and takes charge.
The going will be very tough and challenging for the first few years and very often I did sit back and think whether I had taken the right decision.
However, looking back, I don’t think there could be any other path I would have wanted to take. Remember the fruits of all the hard work will be very sweet.
If becoming your own boss is your dream, there is no date as good as today to make a beginning.
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