When your career path hits a bump or gets derailed completely, it can leave you feeling utterly confused and unsure. You had a plan, and that plan changed, so what do you do now?
First things first, you need to identify your next steps, but this can be a little daunting, especially if you are considering dipping your toes into entrepreneurship and becoming your own boss. Harvard Business Review encourages you to remind yourself that “you haven’t left your skills and experience behind with your last job, and you’ll also bring with you the lessons learned from the setback.” So, if starting a business is something you are considering, read on for some helpful tips.
Brainstorm a Business Idea
Deciding to start a business is an easy decision, but determining what business to start can be difficult due to the infinite options. Business ideas come from a variety of sources, such as a recurring theme or problem in your personal life, new trends, gaps in the current market, and your unique skills and knowledge. However, it is important that the motivation behind your business idea isn’t solely about the cash flow. The going will get tough, so having passion and drive is crucial, as it will likely take two or three years to get solid footing. Look to your hobbies and interests, consider what you love doing, and find ways to solve a problem so that you always have a “why” when you start to question if entrepreneurship was the right decision. Browse these ideas for inspiration, and remember that the business you start now might not match what you pictured, but you have to give it time to take root, grow, evolve, and change.
Test Drive Your Idea
A business takes commitment, but you don’t want to put your heart, soul, and money into it if it isn’t viable or compatible with the market and demand. Test drive your idea by first taking a step back – don’t let the excitement lead you to settle on the first idea you come up with. Then, build a simplified version of your product, or run the test service by critics such as potential customers, business contacts, and unbiased friends and family. When you are first getting your name out there, people like to be able to learn more about you and what it is you are offering. Create a test website that is engaging, informative, and easy to navigate to establish a professional presence. Link to your business social media pages as well to help you further gauge interest. You don’t need anything super fancy. There are reliable and affordable web host services that ensure your website stays up and running. Most hosting companies offer an economy plan, which makes sense if you are just starting out, don’t have many customers yet, and are looking to save on business costs. For example, GoDaddy offers a hosting plan that only costs $1 a month.
Find Funding the Right Way
As you’re aware, entrepreneurship requires investment, but what if you don’t have the funds necessary to get your idea off the ground? There are several realistic funding avenues to explore. Look into small business loans and grants, ask family and friends to help fund your dream, or trade equity or services in exchange for the things you need. You’ll likely need to bootstrap, meaning you fund your business yourself using personal savings, credit cards, or home lines of credit, but be wary of the risk of being left with major debt. If possible, save money by continuing your regular job, picking up a part-time job, or finding a side gig you can start immediately, such as dog walking, babysitting, or cleaning houses. You might also consider teaming up with a business partner. Not only will you have the added benefits of combined knowledge, skills, experience, ideas, responsibility, and manpower, but you’ll be able to combine your startup capital, increase your chances of getting approved for loans, and ease the impact on your wallet.
A career setback is a negative event, but there are many ways to turn it into a positive experience. One such way is by starting your own business. It’s both an exciting and scary adventure, but with the right idea, planning, and funding, you can take the driver’s seat in your career.