Do you remember those games as a kid, where you had to say what sort of house you wanted to live in, who you wanted to be married to and what you wanted to do as a job? All of my friends would say “I’d like to be a vet” or a painter or a teacher. I’d always say “I’d like to be an entrepreneur!”
Ever since I can remember, my dad ran his own business. It grew to be hugely successful and so from a young age I wanted to be just like my dad and to run my own business. Sadly my dad passed away about 5 years ago, but every day I still feel inspired by him and want to make him proud. He used to tell me all the time “one day you’ll be even more successful than me” and we’d plan new and crazy businesses together!
When I was 13, convinced I’d be a millionaire, I started making and selling jewellery! Obviously, the little 13 years old me didn’t quite understand business back then, and I just made pocket money from selling my crafts. But, it’s helped me to learn how to run a great business. Plus, having creative and entrepreneurial parents helps a lot! I’ve been ‘business-minded’ and creative all my life.
I believe that anyone can run a business if they have the drive and passion to. There are plenty of myths and excuses to hold you back, but if you’re on the fence about whether to start a business or not, keep reading and it might just help you make up your mind.
Myth number 1 – Starting a business is far too expensive
Yes, running a business can be expensive, but there are plenty of businesses you can set up very cheaply and then invest into as your business grows.
I started my business initially with about £75 – £5 for a month’s website hosting, £7 for a domain name, £40-ish for a month of Adobe Creative Suite and the rest on business cards to help promote my new business! I already had a laptop that I could work from and I worked my butt off for the first month to try and get some money to start with. As I earned money, I invested it back into my business.
There’s also funding available for businesses with a solid business plan or you could look into crowdfunding or pre-selling your product before it’s even made!
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Myth number 2 – I’m too old / young / [insert your excuse here!] to run a business
I’ll let you know a little secret…at the time of writing this, I’m 22 (23 next month). I started my design business when I was 20. For me, my worry was that I was too young to run a business full time and people would judge my business on my age.
I decided to go for it anyway rather than looking for another design agency job. I felt like I had a good understanding of business and I was already experienced in design after going straight into a design role instead of going to University.
Family and friends would often ask how my ‘little business’ was going or if I was going to get a ‘proper job’, but I’ve been running my business for two years now and I’m starting to get to where I want to be. I often share new projects that I’ve been working on and feel like I’m finally proving that I am a successful entrepreneur, regardless of my age.
Another thing that only bothered me, is that I used to think I was too quiet to run a business. I’m a very introverted person and even now I hate making phone calls or going on Skype.
When I first started, being so shy and quiet caused a ton of anxiety because I thought I had to be loud and extroverted to make sales, and I thought I had to go to networking events and meetings in order to be successful.
I now know better! There’s no right or wrong way to run a business, and you don’t have to be a particular person to be an entrepreneur. There’s a certain element of sales involved in every business, but it doesn’t have to be stereotypical pushy sales. Offering genuine help, writing lovely emails to people, posting on social media…These are all things I do now to get sales. No cold calls involved, no siree!
Myth number 3 – I can’t start a business because I don’t know everything about running a business yet!
Truthfully, you never will know EVERYTHING there is to know about running a business. I’ve learnt that every business is different and something that will work for one business, won’t for another. It depends on who your customers are and what you’re selling.
It’s great to learn about business before you jump in, but don’t sit around waiting for the ‘right time’ because it may never come. Make a plan and then go for it!
You’ll always be learning on the job with your own business. It’s great to read books and blogs and educate yourself continuously so you can evolve and grow your business.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford
Myth number 4 – I’m not qualified enough to run a business, I don’t have a degree
The year all of the university fees went up massively in the UK was the year I was supposed to start university. I’d applied and got into all of my choices but I decided not to go because I didn’t want to spend years repaying my student fees.
Instead, I started an apprenticeship at a marketing and design company. It was mostly a design role, but I also managed email marketing campaigns for big companies like the National Trust and ScottishPower. From this, I gained a ton of experience in design and in customer service, and I got a qualification in marketing.
Steve Jobs never graduated college and he built a business worth billions. Richard Branson dropped out of school at 16, and look at where he is now (he owns an island!!). Ellen DeGeneres left University after a semester and worked several different jobs including waiting tables and painting houses, before taking a risk to do something she was passionate about, and now she’s known worldwide.
You don’t have to have formal education to be an expert in something. Being self-taught or learning on the job is often just as good as going to school to study.
Myth number 5 – It’s too risky
There’s always some risk involved in setting up a business. It takes up a lot of your time and hard work, but it doesn’t always have to be risky. Planning properly, and realistically, helps you to start your business off on the right foot.
Also, being a 5-9’er is how a lot of people start off. They run their business on the side using the security of their full-time job to help them to create a successful business.
Part time jobs are also great if you need just that little bit of extra money and more free time to dedicate to your business.
I work at a fabric shop three days a week and it’s great for me because I love fabric, I get to be in a more social environment, and I earn a small regular income to get me through if I have difficult months. One day maybe I’ll do my business full time, but for now, I love working at this quirky little treasure trove a couple of days a week!
So, do you want to start a business?
I love running my own business. There are a lot of ups and a fair number of downs, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
My number one tip if you’re thinking of starting a business is to do something that you’re passionate about. You have to motivate yourself to get up each morning and work hard to run this business. Passion fuels that. You need to enjoy what you’re doing, or else you might as well be back at your corporate job!
If you’ve read all the way down to here, chances are you’ve got a passion for something and you’re seriously thinking about starting your own business. You weren’t made to just chug away in an office job. You were made to have the freedom and fun that comes with being an entrepreneur! Yes, it’ll be hard work to make it a success, but it’s totally worth it.
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For more advice right now, I recommend reading “top tips on starting a business” and “21 things I’ve learnt since I started my business”.
This month I’m launching #GetBizReal on my Facebook and Instagram page. There are far too many businesses out there implying overnight success and making it sound like running a business is easy (often if you just buy their course with all the secrets!), and it can make you feel like a failure.
I wanted to launch #GetBizReal to share business realities from businesses far and wide, helping to support each other and to show entrepreneurs out there that you’re doing an amazing job.
Maybe you work in your PJs all day, that’s ok! Or maybe you have days where you think about quitting your business because it’s too stressful, but really if you think about it, it’s the best job you’ve ever had.
Want to get involved with #GetBizReal? Contact me with your business reality or story and include your website and/or social media links, as well as a short sentence about what you do.