There are so many ways to work these days. One can work from an office or home, freelance, consult, work part time, work seasonally, work remotely, and the list goes on.
The internet and social media have this sneaky way of making it seem like it should be the ultimate goal for everybody to work for themselves, with slow, coffee-drinking mornings, phone calls in yoga pants, and reading business books on the beach. Sure, these things are possible if you own your own business, but not only does it not mean that every day is serene, it is not necessarily the right fit for everyone.
The first question I ask anyone who wants to start her own business is, “Why?” Not in a, “Why the heck would you want to do that?” way, but rather, “Why does this career path call to you?” You may have an idealistic picture of what it’s like having your own business in mind. While the perk of freedom to choose your own schedule, clients, and lifestyle is wonderful, the life of a business owner isn’t a good fit for everyone. If you are in it to make a quick buck and take the easy route, this life is not for you.
There are a few personal attributes that I feel are vital if you’re going to pursue the entrepreneurial path. Of course, there is more than one way to operate a business, but the truth is, having these traits will make it a much better and logical fit to be a business owner.
The biggest challenge you may face is finding the drive to get things done and stay productive. Especially if you are working from a home office, the call of Netflix, social media, or your bed can be an issue. There is no boss holding you accountable, and your success is reliant on your taking charge. If you respond to an internal drive to set goals and accomplish things, then this career will work well for you.
This is not to say that if you are more motivated by external expectations and deadline that you are not a good worker. Everyone is motivated differently, and that’s great! We need all kinds of people in the world, and a work setting with a boss and lots of coworkers to collaborate with could be awesome for you. There are tons of companies out there looking for your style.
You must be confident in making decisions for yourself and working alone. Hopefully, you will be able to find a network of business peers, collaborate with others on projects, and perhaps hire some staff eventually, but, especially at first, you will be working by yourself. If you work better talking everything through with other people or looking to others to make final calls, then a job working on a face-to-face team might be a better fit for you than solopreneurship.
Some people assume you need to be extremely extroverted to have your own business: always introducing yourself to prospective clients, making cold calls, and attending endless networking events. Other people assume you are probably an introvert if you want your own business, working alone and away from an office full of people. The truth is, I’ve seen both styles find success. As long as you have the confidence to make decisions and take a direction on your own, your own business can work for you.
Take the time to understand how you operate, and leverage those skills in a direction that suits you. No single, ideal business mold here!
You’re going to make mistakes. Recognizing when you need help or advice is essential. Nobody knows it all, no matter how long they’ve been doing something. You should always be learning and seeking new experiences. You’ll want to position yourself as an expert in your field, but nobody wants to work with a know-it-all.
Finding the right resources for you (and your clients) when you don’t have the answer will be an invaluable skill, as will admitting when you were wrong. The key is to acknowledge it, and then offer the ways you can make it better or find solutions. No one expects you to be perfect, but having the grace to admit when you need advice or when you let something slip and a client notices will take you much further than arrogance will.
If you’ve started your own business, what traits do you think are essential of a business owner?
P.S. Are you a designer?
Are you looking for guidance specific to starting a design business? I’d love to share my experiences with you! Get on the list below for first access and pre-sale offers for my new ebook, Design Boss, coming next month. This post is an excerpt from the book, in which I share what it was like getting my design studio up and running, along with how to get organized, work with clients, and find a routine that works for you. Join in!