Six years ago, and after 23 years of working as an Employee with fancy job titles and bonuses galore, I followed my heart and took the plunge in embarking on my business journey. Notice the words heart and plunge. These words would resonate with the millions of aspiring entrepreneurs contemplating this journey.
Inspired by my six-year journey and the lessons I have learnt along the way, I have put together the top 10 checklist you should reflect on if you have the craving to start your own business.
I am also a qualified Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) and have run numerous training programs on Financial Management, Business Strategy and Goal Setting. While I understand the importance of these or white considerations, in my opinion, they only form a minority of the Top 10 checklist. And the reason behind this is my mention of the word ‘heart’ earlier. The heart, which is where the love comes from (and I mean not just romantic love here, I mean the love of anything you do), is a significant factor in determining whether your business journey will be enjoyable and ultimately give you longevity and purpose. I find the conventional ‘Things to consider before you start your own business articles tend to focus on brain-led processes such as the Business Plan, Financial Management etc.
Before starting your own business, you must find a balance between your brain and your heart. I would even go further and say that it should be predominantly led from your heart at the onset.
For those who have read this far and resonate with my message, I would like to scare you a little bit and discuss the other word plunge. Most of those who started their own business had to let go of the certainty of the paycheck, their current job description, or limitations of their current skillset to reinvent themselves into a human being willing to take risks and crave the unknown and embrace uncertainty? Sounds scary?! If you are scared and anxious about the possibility of risks, uncertainty and constant turbulence, the good news is that your brain is working.
But those who want are willing to look beyond the safety mechanisms of the brain and follow their heart have a better chance of getting through the dreaded three-year stigma of small business failure rates.
So without further ado, here are my Top 10 Heart (and some brain) Driven Checklist for those brave souls wanting to start their own business.
Understand and Build on Your Core Strengths
To become a successful business owner, you need to understand and own your strengths. In terms of a question, it would go along the lines of, ‘What are the strengths and skillsets that I possess that will help me open and run my own business successfully?’. By clearly focusing on your skills and strengths, you can strategise your plans accordingly.
Factor in lifestyle changes
Running a business is unlike a conventional 9 to 5 job. You will lose track of time and days, guaranteed. Your business, in most cases, cannot be clocked off once you leave your office or workplace. If you have a partner, spouse or kids or are responsible for caring for other living things, I highly encourage buy-in from everyone involved. Because ultimately, they will need to compromise with your time choices.
Start to learn and practice Emotional Intelligence.
I have seen several businesses fail, not because of great ideas but because of business owners’ lack of communication skills and empathy. A basic understanding of Emotional Intelligence is a crucial factor in how successful your business journey will be.
Form a close community of like-minded and inspiring humans who can share their success stories and mistakes.
Become part of networking groups with the right energy and values so that other aspiring entrepreneurs can join your tribe and support you through thick and thin.
Join a mastermind group
A mastermind group is an extension of a networking group, except that the group comprises subject matter experts who can informally act as your trusted advisors, usually over a beer, wine or coffee, rather than charging you for their time. In return, you will also need to provide your input and ideas to others in the group.
Find an experienced Business Mentor that has a proven track record
From your active involvement in networking groups and masterminds, you may be able to find an experienced business mentor (note that I use the term mentor, not coach). The right mentor could provide you with advice on business strategy, finance, marketing etc. (the brain stuff) and may be worth the financial outlay.
Set time for Learning and Development
A successful entrepreneur always makes the conscious choice to find the time to learn and grow. Learning creates new neural pathways in your brain so that knowledge expands, but learning should resonate with what your heart seeks. On average, I recommend that 20% of your time involved in your business be focused on learning and development.
Partner with an ethical and commercially savvy Accountant
Notice the word honest and commercially savvy. A good accountant should be more than a bookkeeper or bean counter! Find a professional who is emotionally intelligent and provides objective business advice!
Learn the Art of Goal Setting and Goal Achievement
The simple fact is businesses cannot survive long-term without a goal that is aligned with the business owner’s heart and brain. Note that the Goal Setting part is the easy, fun bit where you get to pick choices logically (from your brain) and that the Goal Achievement piece is the most important and is based on my subconscious mindset and your heart.
Be in the mindset to celebrate every win
Running a business may feel like an uphill battle but also has the potential to bring out the best in you. Having a mindset to note and celebrate every win, small or big, is essential to keep your heart interested.
So there you have it! Before you start to ponder over the Top 10 checklist above, a final piece of information. If you are considering starting your entrepreneurial journey, there must be a balance between your heart and mind (and your mind is your brain in action).
Image credit: Adam Winger on Unsplash