Last week I was in the middle of an intake call with a tradesman who had just signed up on BigHire when I got a question we often get, "Do I sign up as a worker or a company. I've been working for other people and at some point, I want to start my own business. I just don't know if now is the time."
Since we've walked through our checklist on the phone a few times I figured why not blog about it so here goes. Here is part 1 of our 6 tips to know when it's time to quit punching in and pay the cost to be the boss (a little James Brown for you):
Learn your craft and make sure you know it better than anyone around you. This means getting good at what you do. When it's your shop everyone comes to you for answers. You don't want to be that guy or gal who doesn't have a clue what to do or how to navigate situations that arise. You no longer have the luxury of letting someone else take the fall or doing a sloppy job because you're not ultimately responsible.
Learn how to run a business well. Anyone can print up some cards and t-shirts and say they own a business. How many people are willing to put in the work to run a legitimate business. Think back to the story The Three Pigs. Do you want to be the one to build a house out of straw whose business crashes at the first storm? Or, are you the one to build your house out of concrete? It'll take longer to build, but at the end of the day, you'll be standing at the end of many storms. By this I mean, take the time to register your business, build a proper website, learn about accounting and bookkeeping, marketing, sales, and customer service. Visit your local SCORE or CT Small Business Development office or take advantage of the many free and low-cost resources around. When you take the time to set up your accounting software or come up with a sales plan or figure out a plan for delighting customers you're building with bricks rather than straw.
Transition well. Don't be that guy who gets in a fight on a job, blows up on someone, and now no one will hire you so you have to start your own thing. You have no references, your reputation is rock bottom and you have no one to call, no shoulder to lean on. The process of going from worker to owner is tricky. One of the tricky situations you should think about navigating is building your portfolio of work so that you can give new clients an idea of the look and feel of your work. It's tricky because you don't want your former boss or customers seeing pictures of their projects or houses on your website without their permission, but you need proof of your skills. This is where you need to get clear with your current boss about your intentions. Your goal is to get your boss to see it as a good thing to have a former employee grow into an owner. There's enough fish in the sea for everyone so convince them you're an ally, not a threat.