Many things can persuade a person to take the leap to start their own business. Maybe it has been a life-long dream finally coming to fruition; to be the boss and leave your own mark in the business world. Or perhaps it’s taking over the family company, a generational tradition that you are proud to be a part of. In my case, the outside world had a dramatic effect on why I became an entrepreneur.
It was the first week of September in 2001. My husband, children and I had just moved into our new home. We were working together at an airline company, very happy in our respective jobs. Then, the world stopped on September 11th. After the initial shock of the horrible tragedy of that day, we started to think how this event was going to affect our professional lives. As predicated, a massive amount of layoffs occurred within our company. My husband and I held on as long as we could, but the inevitable happened and I was laid off. With a new home and dependent children, I had to find another way to keep contributing for our family.
It’s funny how life presents things when you’re not ready for them. Before this time in our lives, I was asked by a business associate who provided marketing collateral to my company if I would ever want to have my own business. He was looking to retire and offered his company for purchase and at the time, that answer was no. But the layoff had made that opportunity to own my own business a very viable option to consider. After several lengthy conversations with the husband, as you can imagine, I contacted my associate, purchased my first client, an existing customer of his, and became a business owner.
What have I learned along the way?
• In the long run, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The ability to have the flexibility and freedom that come along with owning your own business is worth every struggle along the way. I was able to home-school my children at one point and be available as a parent the way I wanted and needed to be.
• The road is not easy. But keep swimming, use your strengths, use your existing contacts and relationships to get ahead and ask for support. A graphic designer by nature, I had the tools to create but was not the best sales person. Eventually my husband joined me as a partner and he did have that selling strength, creating the perfect team for our business.
• Start with something and get comfortable. Purchasing the existing book of business from the former owner made our start-up process much easier and we probably couldn’t have succeeded without that first customer. This allowed us to have consistent sales, albeit small, but sales none the less while learning the ropes of our new trade. That existing client knew what to expect from us and unintentionally taught us what to do moving forward with new business prospects.
It has been 15 years since I first started my own business and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I encourage you to take the jump, if you are considering becoming an entrepreneur. Whether by circumstance or a dream long dreamed, it could be your best decision yet.