Every decade has its "hot" business themes. In the past three or four decades for big business, the themes were "TQM" (Total Quality Management) "Management by Objective" and "Team Circles" to name a few of the better know ones.
Lately, for individuals the "hot" idea has been "going into business for yourself." Some think they want to go into business because of downsizing, and some because they don't like the job, the boss, or the business. First, "Going into business for yourself" seems a lot easier than going out and looking for a new job. Secondly, the idea that one can have the freedom he or she always dreamed of appears to be a goal within reach because being in "business for yourself" means to be in charge of one's own destiny.
Newspapers, magazines, TV radio, high school and college courses and the Internet are filled with great examples why people should to "go into business for themselves." If one can spell and pronounce e-n-t-r-e-p-r e-n-e-u-r (s)he can be one. When I give my seminars to business wannabes, I ask them to spell "entrepreneur." Most can't. My comment is that if it is that hard to spell, it is just as hard to be one.
If there ever was an oxymoron, "going into business for yourself" is a prime example. No one can be "in business for yourself" because people have to be in business to fulfill the wants and needs of other people, businesses, and organizations. Being in "business for yourself" indicates that the business has only one customer, and no business survives on one customer. If a potential client believes he or she can do for less and/or better what an outside supplier, or entrepreneur can do, they will not get the job.
Successful people, businesses, and organizations do for others what others can't do, don't do, won't do for themselves. It's as simple as that. Every business has two categories of employees: Temporary employees called suppliers and full-time suppliers called employees. People who are "in business for yourself" must consider themselves as suppliers or temporary employees.
The independent business person has to find out what tasks/jobs his or her potential clients need filling on a part-time or project basis. This is often referred to as "marketing." Actually, before one can be "open for business" there needs to be some market research. Afterwards comes the marketing. As the Music Man said in the musical of the same name, "You've got to cover the territory!" And that means both before and after the doors to the new business are open.
Market research is not a mystifying act that marketing magicians practice. It is usually very basic: walking with, talking to, and calling on those people who might use one's products or services. Few have been taught how to research the market or have enough funds to hire someone to do it for them. It might pay, though, to go to a market research firm to learn the right questions to ask. What questions are asked and how they are asked will determine the validity of the research. Many marketing firms will be happy to assist in this for a very reasonable fee. They know that they are not going to get (nor do they expect) that size of a research project.
Being in business for yourself means starting early in the morning, working late into the evening most days, spending long Saturdays and busy Sunday afternoons with your new "baby." It's going without a vacation because there is no one else to operate and run the business when one is away. Movies, golf, skiing, going to ball games no longer are recreation, but luxuries.
Now, after reading all of this, is it worth it, this "going into business for yourself?" The answer is definitely "YES!" as long as you know what is needed, how to fill the need, and can fill it, and have the energy and desire to get the job done.
Copyright © 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Alan J. Zell, Ambassador of Selling, Portland, OR. All rights reserved.
Alan J. Zell, Ambassador Of Selling
P.O. Box 69
Portland, Oregon, USA 97207-0069
Telephone: (503) 241-1988