Have you heard this before? “I want to start my own business.” And heard this reply: “I can’t because I’ll be left without any health benefits.” This notion has been blogged, reblogged, rehashed over and over again. Oh, if only I could start my own business. Is that the clincher? How about 40 years down the road and you look back on your life and regret that you did not take a little bit of risk? We only get one life and we can’t do it over again.
Let me teach you about some basic business tips that can help you succeed. These are proven methods but are not absolutes. I will offer some advise on how to start achieving raising a business from the ground up.
Some of these suggestions may be opinions of the author of this article and are not absolutes. If your situation does not line up with these principles, it is still possible to succeed. I’ll provide you with practical advise to help you succeed.
Writing this article reminded me of a young man who had much talent, landed a good job for a large corporation, had a bird’s eye view of the bay from his high-rise office building, and whose eyes were drawn to the outside. On the bay he could see the Coast Guard doing maneuvers, daily, in their bright orange uniforms. Not soon thereafter he asked himself: “What am I doing here?” He soon joined the Coast Guard and followed his instinct.
Perhaps you’ve been working a while for some firm. Hopefully you’ve got what was due you and started climbing the ladder. But you’re not content with the work you have before you. Perhaps things have not gone as well as you hoped in your job and everything has been put on hold. It is quite understandable that companies are doing a lot of downsizing. While starting a business you must not be dissuaded by current economic trends and stock market volatility. Timing your business venture with a severance package is certainly ideal. If your desire to make a change is stronger than any expected lay off — don’t wait too long.
You’ve been planning to take a leap of faith for some time but you could never seem to find the right time to do it. They need me. Who’s going to do the job? It may be that you need to summon some courage just to make a change. Sometimes a company might offer you an incentive to stay — a higher salary for instance. Rarely have I seen those types of offers accepted. If you been with a company or department for some time, perhaps it is time to make a change. Understand that you are your best ally. The real preparation starts at home — the business plan.
Do you budget? Some people who have talent never really spend too much time with budgeting. But this will be an important topic to understand. You don’t have to be an expert but will need to know some basic principles.
Not everybody has the latest gadgets and gizmos for his computer but some essentials are a scanner, digital camera (optional but useful) — a fax machine can also be helpful (I rarely use a fax machine, but once in a while I get asked for one), thumb drive, extra keyboard, monitor, and mouse will also be helpful for you to have on hand. An extra video card is also essential — they break. See my article on computer memory for preparation: How Much PC Memory Do You Have?
It is often said the only reason I don’t succeed is because I “don’t have the technology.” More than likely you don’t have the drive (not HDD) but commitment to achieve your goals. Drive (perseverance) can be found if you have little or none at all. [If you don’t believe anything I say, believe this point.] Taking an inventory of your software will be well worth a look. When my computer needs to be rebuilt I use Office 97 with Office XP (2002). Having never seen the need to upgrade Office, I still run Office 2002 with SP3. Make sure you have all your Product Keys in the right place – easily accessible. Preparation is not miserly moving along. Actually, I despise the miser. Tip: Microsoft has a free add-on for Office 2002 to read much of the later formats.
In preparation for your business you’ll want to stock up on supplies beforehand. Some of the essential items you’ll need when starting a business is ink. Stock up on this item. Ink can sometimes be had on eBay for less (careful of expired ink.) Light bulbs: make sure you have these on hand for your home or home office. You don’t want to under budget for this item. Paper: stock up on name brand paper, only. There is a big difference between the quality of paper. Business cards: these tend to be expensive like ink so budget for them. Always carry them in your wallet. With the many computers I’ve fixed, I have never realized a need for a laptop computer. A laptop was only useful if the main computer was down and access to the internet was essential. Retail office space? Probably not. At least not right away.
One of the skills that will be helpful in your pursuit of starting your own business is knowledge of the PC itself. You don’t need an A+ certification but it is very useful and helpful to be able to troubleshoot your own PC; take it apart and repair it. Proficiency in Microsoft Excel is part of any business these days. Being able to use the simple arithmetic functions in Excel and being able to devise a spread sheet will be an asset. It does not hurt; in fact, I’ll recommend to anyone an A+ certification course.
Perhaps the most important topic. No money, no business. You’re usually allowed to keep your 401k with your old company but that usually comes with strings attached (that which they don’t tell you). I strongly advise not withdrawing your 401k to invest in your business. That mostly comes at a loss. Taxes are too high and more taxes and surcharges come later and by surprise. Save it for your retirement. All 401k loans should be paid back before you leave your company.
There is no doubt that having a helpful supporter can be a useful asset. In reality you may not receive any support at all. Carefully consider how you’re going to meet monthly expenses. In an ideal situation debts should be eliminated. You don’t have to be debt free but you don’t want to be stuck dealing with collections either. You don’t have to be perfect here but you’ll want to avoid the most common of financial traps before they begin. You have to know your limitations.
If you have a cell phone you have a contract. A cell phone is a useful tool. Nevertheless, the cell phone is more of a convenience tool than anything else. If you’re paying more than $100.00 a month for service at the very least find out when your contract ends and consider shopping around for more affordable rates.
We all need to see a doctor from time to time especially when we’re sick. Whether it be a specialist, counselor, or nutritionist – always ask your doctor if he has a rate for the uninsured. We may have to take a blood test or need prescription medicine. Let your primary care doctor know that you are uninsured. The NYS Department of Health has rules concerning what hospitals can charge uninsured patients: http://hospitals.nyhealth.gov/psa.php
The Computer and Hard Drive
Having essential tools on your computer is certainly a plus. Not having limitations on the power of your PC will help greatly. Bear in mind that too many software subscriptions can easily add up. You don’t always need the latest software release to get full use of your computer. I do recommend having a DVD codec on your computer. For photo editing, Adobe Photoshop Essentials is a useful tool.
Tip: Many of the larger software companies maintain good online records of past purchases. For example, I was able to redownload an old copy of Cyberlink Power DVD 7. A check of my account revealed that the software was still available for download with the assigned product key. Same was true for Adobe’s Photoshop Elements. Helpful when recovering your PC. It’s a good idea to keep copies of all software purchases. You never know when you might need it.
The Hard Drive on your computer has an MBT (Meantime Between Failure). Laptops are not very forgiving when it comes to this number. Your computers hard drive will fail. One computer I serviced failed within three years. Fluke? Maybe. However, data was lost.
Back-up Back-Up Back-Up your data and files, regularly.
The best insurance is the one one can give to ones self. Exercise is a part of life and should be a part of your business plan. Expensive gym memberships is completely an unessential item. Running is OK. Cardio exercise along with some weight training is better. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be more mobile. Your present or old job might have been rather sedentary. Walk more. Drive less and bike more. The city of New York is accommodating more bicycle lanes through their various green environmental initiatives. Check with your primary care doctor and cardiologist before you begin an exercise program.
Survival and Safety
When starting a new business you’ll need to minimize your level of risk. There is a level of risk involved in building any business. But bear in mind that all companies assume a certain level of risk. Stepping into something you believe in is highly commendable. Providing a service to your community or city is a good thing. There is no doubt that sacrifices will be made but for every disadvantage there usually is a corresponding advantage: The Power Of Positive Living
It’s possible to go a little while without health insurance. If there are any medical procedures you need — do it before you leave your company. Once you leave your company health insurance ends. And I would recommend a full check up. An alternative to company sponsored health insurance is Army Reserve training. Health benefits can be acquired and this can be a viable option while you pursue your business goals. For one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year this can have the added benefit of you becoming a veteran.
Other essential things to consider are basic survival items should you hit a lull in your efforts to grow your business. Extra clothes should be acquired beforehand: extra pants, undergarments et cetera. Essential hygiene items are important — soap, deodorant, shaving cream et cetera. Gym Clothes: Shorts, sweat pants, two pairs of running shoes and sweat shirts.
Food items: Recommend several boxes of MREs as a precaution.
Sensible precautions are essential.
Survival gear: http://ovalpike.com/slideshow/survival-gear
The Back-Up Plan
It would not be wise to go venture out without a working back-up plan. Your initial plan does not have to be perfect — not by a long shot. But you will want to consider something to fall back on even if your fall back plan is only temporary. Also, I would not put a time frame on your goal. If it does not work out in 6 months I’ll… Never mind that idea — that’s not a plan and leaves no room for growth.
Tip: After leaving a company do not neglect your resume. Keep it up-to-date.
With a little ingenuity and drive you can make a difference in achieving your goals or not achieving them. Believe in your dreams.