Almost a quarter of full-time or part-time workers in America have considered leaving a job to become self-employed, according to a 2009 USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. However, many are not prepared for the realities of owning their own business. And let’s not forget the astronomical failure rate of new businesses: 90 percent fail within the first five years.
So for anyone who dreams of leaving the world of cubicles behind to strike out on their own, know there is much to consider before you quit your job.
“The first thing anyone should consider before starting a business is why they want to be an entrepreneur,” says Adrienne Adams, founder of the It’s Not Enough to Dream Women's Small Business Circle. If it’s because you want to get up late and don’t want to deal with people, then you’ll be in for a big surprise. According to Adams when you start a business you’re not completely independent. “You still have to take orders from your clients,” she said. “Entrepreneurship requires long hours.
“You have to get used to making your own plans and establishing daily operations,” said Adams who transitioned from author to business coach after noticing that so many women were harboring unfulfilled dreams. A few years ago while touring one of her books, Adams encountered a number of women who told her “I’ve always wanted to write, or go back to school or start a business.” After hearing dozens of similar stories Adams had a realization: “If I did it with five children, then anyone can.”
Adams describes herself as a natural teacher, so her first instinct was to bring these women together for a conversation. She enlisted the help of her sister Bridgette Outten, a professional journalist and editor. Together, they organized a conference which then evolved into a women’s circle, a print magazine and a website.
Since the inaugural It’s Not Enough to Dream conference, the organization has hosted classes and other gatherings each month to offer support and disseminate information on marketing, branding, product development and other aspects of running a successful business.
Choosing the right business plays a crucial role in determining future success. Most of the women Adams works with already know what kind of business they’d like to start. Basically, they expand on what they’ve already been doing on a part-time basis or even as a hobby. The goal of Adam’s organization is to help these women turn what they’re already doing into a full-time income stream.
While some experts believe small businesses and self-employment are the answer to the nation’s economic woes, aspiring entrepreneurs may be reluctant to strike out on their own right now. “Even though the economy isn't in the best condition, people are still living,” says Adams. “There are things people need and things people want. I'd say do the research to make sure that there is a market for your products and services, and go for it.”
Despite the challenges you must face when you start a business, Adams believes it’s worth the effort in the long run. “You’re waking up every day and living your purpose. Doing what you love and helping people,” she said.
To improve their chances of success, those who want to start a business should be willing to increase their knowledge—and that goes for everyone, says Adams. “Even if you’re a born entrepreneur who had a lemonade stand at 10 years old, there’s still more to learn.”
Adams has her own business coach and invests lots of time in continued training. A book she recommends is Jeff Olsen’s The Slight Edge, which teaches readers how small changes can positively impact their professional and personal lives. “Entrepreneurship is a journey. You need to stay encouraged and motivated along the way,” she said.