L-R: Jennifer Crews, Frank J. Corrado, Chris Grohman, Frankie Corrado, Jean Otte at the recent NJ Strategic Design + Tech Meetup
The decision to make the entrepreneurial leap isn't something you reconcile over lunch with a friend, after attending the latest infomercial by the guru-of-the day, or after surviving another fit of frustration dealing with the same, intractable, intolerable situation at your current place of employment.
Because leaving your career takes careful consideration.
Before I left big business to start Blue Blaze Financial Advisors I was fast approaching 50 years old and had been working in large companies for almost 30 years. It was apparent at the turn of this century that the social contract between companies and employees was a thing of the past. It went from loyalty to “at will” employment. It didn’t feel right to me and it was no longer a place that I wanted to invest all my energy.
You know the feeling of becoming stagnant at work - not learning new things, not being given the opportunity to truly make a difference.
I had, as Liam Neeson said in the movie Taken, developed a “certain set of skills”. I became very popular as a lunch mate during bonus time, where my thoughts were sought on many financial and executive compensation matters. I thought, "Hey I could do this for a living."
But starting out was risky. I had 4 children and the oldest had just started college. I couldn't just quit my day job. Instead, I went back to school using the company's education benefits to pay. And I started taking on family and friend clients on the side to gain experience. It was my way of de-risking the situation as much as possible.
If that's where you are, on the razor's edge of starting your own company and ending your career for some other company, allow me to share with you what I've learned from my own experience (and what I pass on to my financial clients).
I'm offering a free one on one consultation to every entrepreneur who's seriously considering taking the leap.
If you're looking to make a change, there are keys to success, and I call them the 4 C’s:
Competence Obvious, right? Maybe not. You must be very good at what you do, what you make, what you sell, what you advise on. I'm not talking technical competence for as you know, the most successful sales people can sell anything. I'm talking about clearly defining your superpower, and then accepting what you're not so super at. That's where you get a partner, vendor, outsourcer, contractor or whoever can be competent in the things you are not. Ignoring this advice is why the majority of small businesses fail.
Confidence It's not discussed a lot because it's kind of a mental thing, but confidence is crucial to success in a new business. If you can't convince yourself that you're the best out there at whatever you do, how will you convince others? If you can’t convince yourself, why is that? Do whatever you have to do be truly confident in your skills and idea: work harder, study more, talk to others, adjust the business plan - whatever - just get yourself convinced you are the best. When I found this confidence, I could see my new clients also felt it and wanted to be part of it.
Communication Even a mime has great communication skills, just not verbal. You must be comfortable meeting and speaking with other people. Networking isn't only crucial to success, it can be fun! It’s social, it’s bringing personal needs together with business needs. And by the way, if done properly there can be decent tax advantages.
Capital Unless you have some sugar daddy funding your efforts, you'll need some financial capital to tide you over as you build the business. Trust me, getting venture capital is usually not the first step. There are many ways to address funding, but first, realize going in that there might be some tough sledding and you need the capital to ride it out. I lost $40,000 my first year in business. Be honest with yourself about how much your venture could cost and how long you can go before you get income from the business.
Lastly, don't go it alone. Talk through your financial situation with an expert. Like Christopher Grohman, Founder of Contacts In Motion and a speaker at our recent NJ Strategic Design + Tech Meetup, said about the legal aspect of business, "Get it straight before you start out, because it can be hard to untangle later."
Take advantage of our free consultation offer. We can speak virtually or if you're in the neighborhood, right here in the beautiful Bell Works atrium.