The 2000s are all about the amazing stories of young people taking risks and following their passion. Twenty-something icons like Mark Zuckerberg, David Karp, founder of Tumblr and Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon, give us all hope of bringing good ideas to fruition and making millions in the process, they make us think, ‘what would it be like to start your own business?’
The idea to start your own business, although growing in popularity, is still the road less traveled. This means that even with a ton of great resources and mentors available, getting a business off the ground means no one can give you the answer – it’s all you!
Let’s face it, we’re not all cut out to be the next Mark Zuckerbergs, BUT there are still a lot of great ideas to be brought to fruition and money to be made. The process of getting there just might be a little more practical. One of the hardest things to do is fund your business and make the transition from your “day job” to your dream job. However, I believe they don’t have to be different things. What if your day job could help you create your business?
Your current job actually has more resources that can help you than you think. Start by shifting your mindset so that you go into work each day and ask, “How can this job work for me today?” Ask yourself these 5 questions about your current job and take action.
- Who do I have access to that I want in my network? If you want to start your own business you will need an active network. This means that you not only have to build up your LinkedIn network but have REAL relationships with people. While you have an established brand on your business card you will most likely have an easier time getting people to connect with you and return your emails and calls. Set a monthly goal for yourself to increase your number of LinkedIn contacts. Every time you meet a new co-worker or someone at an event, follow up with a LinkedIn invitation to connect. Don’t forget the personal note about how you met and why you want to stay connected! This will create a more authentic network so when you need to reach out again, they will remember you.
- What opportunities do I have to expand my personal brand? – What do you need to be known for once you have your own business? What credibility will you need? You can use your current job as a way to practice presenting yourself. Are their opportunities to speak at industry events or conferences? Can you attend networking events? Create your 30 second pitch and use your current job as an opportunity to practice and polish it. By the time you leave the company you will already be known for what you need to be to get your business off the ground. Tell people you are an expert in something and they will remember you for that.
- What financial resources are available to me? Money is the number one issue as to why start-ups fail. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t have enough money to get through the first year of ups and down, you will join the start-up graveyard. Investigate your company’s 401k loan programs, savings plans and other potential advisement they may have access to. You’ll pay a premium for this once you leave so take advantage of it now.
- Who can mentor me? Does your company have a formal mentor program? Even if they don’t, are there more experienced leaders you look up to? Do your homework and find out if there are leaders who would be a good match for an up and coming young entrepreneur. Be careful not to give away your idea, but tapping into the knowledge of more experienced people can help you be prepared for the big transition from worker to business owner.
- What training or tuition reimbursement do I have access to? Most companies (at least mid to large sized ones) offer courses, professional certifications and in many cases tuition reimbursement programs. Take advantage of these. Can you take a course in digital marketing, finance or web design? Would you benefit from a post graduate degree or even another language? Find new knowledge areas that would benefit both your current company and your own business.
By shifting your thinking from “how much longer do I need to be here?” to “how can this place help me start my business?” you will open up a new set of opportunities for your business. Make a list of all of the tasks you need to finish to get your business off of the ground and then ask yourself how these 5 sets of resources can get many of them done while you’re still on the payroll. Before you know it you’re current job will be working for you!