A guest blog from Jason Lewis at StrongWell.org
For years, you’ve worked for the man in the corner office. This is the boss who tells you how much you’re costing the company or promises to put on track to be partner – just like he was saying 14 years ago. You’re sick of it, and you’ve mustered the courage to start your own business. You’re not alone: Around 550,000 Americans are becoming entrepreneurs every month. Yet, the rate of failure of startups is alarming. So, for all you enterprising go-getters, here’s some advice on how to make ends meet when you’re first starting out.
How to Make Ends Meet
As a small business owner, expect the budget to be tight at first. Also, keep in mind that there isn’t necessarily a hard rule for how long it takes before you’ll post a profit. Instead, the real strain might be psychological – not knowing when you’ll make money, how much, and for how long. During this phase of insecurity, follow some budgeting tips. Delineate a fund for “Savings” and a fund for “Expenses.” Update your budget so you can get in front of the new numbers. Also, make sure that you have an emergency fund stashed away for costs like rent, electricity, salaries, and so on. Paying attention to the X’s and O’s will help supplement shortfalls in the market or customer demand while you’re getting established.
Finding Your Niche Market
There are a lot of business out there. In 2010, it was estimated that 27.9 million small businesses were operating in the U.S. With that in mind, how do you stand out? Try finding a niche. To start, ask yourself some important questions. What audience are you targeting? What zip code do you plan to work in? What pricing range can you budget (boutique, affordable, somewhere in between)? How are you going to sell your product (online, in-store, subscription, membership fee)? Finally, do the market research to figure out how many people are likely going to buy your service and how much you stand to profit from it.
Working From a Home Office
One day, you’ll move your business into a gleaming tower downtown. However, when starting out, eliminate the middleman and set up a home workspace. Dedicate a room as your office, equipped with a door to separate it from the domestic flow of the rest of the house. People with home offices generally advise investing in a chair that you’ll be cosy in while working, rather than wishing you were somewhere else. If sitting down hurts your back or makes you feel squirrelly, consider getting a standing desk or station, if it helps you work better.
The risk of starting your own business is that, at first, you’re thrilled to be the boss. You wake up early and open your computer by 9 a.m. sharp. Within a few weeks, though, it’ll become tempting to sleep in and do your work on the couch with the morning news turned on. To boost your productivity, stick to a schedule. Start and stop at a certain time every day so you can get a lot done while also drawing a line between your “work” and “personal” spheres. Other tips include turning off the TV, distancing yourself from social media, and doing your errands before and after work, just as you would if you had a nine-to-five job.
Spearheading a small business is difficult. However, it’s also one of the most celebrated pursuits in the U.S., a society that values originality, hard work, risk-taking, and determination. Just make sure to budget smart, pin down your specialty, and create the right workplace so that your business continues to grow.
Image via Pexels
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