Leaving the security of a job to start your own business can be both rewarding and scary. Here are five important lessons I’ve learned since I took the leap this year and, after 20 years working for leading agencies across the globe, set up my own business, FUEL Research & Consulting:
1. Great Opportunity for Learning & Growth
A start-up is a great tool for learning all aspects of business – especially ‘how to’. In the last 3 months I have had to legally register my company (no easy task in Thailand) and think deeply about the branding, positioning and marketing of FUEL and how to create brand assets and a strong digital presence. FUEL is a company that loves to learn, grow and develop and help others to do the same with our training services.
2. The Importance of a Strong Network & Collaboration
Even though you are on your own you are not really on your own. You will need to call on your network for help. How do I create my own website without engaging an expensive web designer? How do I set up my own email? This is where your network comes in handy AND where you can learn more about the people in your network. Some people really want you to succeed and are really supportive – and it’s not always the people you think! 20 years of professional experience has given me a strong global network and launching FUEL has helped me re-connect with many people I haven’t spoken to in years. For FUEL collaboration is key – already potential partnerships and alliances are in discussion that will help FUEL to be new, fresh and relevant.
3. Unleashing Creativity
I once read an article about how once people had retired their creativity was unleashed – I feel it is the same when you start a new business. When you are your own boss anything is possible. In conversations, I am always looking for “what’s possible” and ways I can help someone, create value or solve a problem. Conversations fuel ideas, inspiration and action and this is something that is very much part of the FUEL brand, which aims to bring both creativity and science to business problems.
4. Self-Discipline & Focus
Knowing my love of a late night and a morning lie-in, many friends have asked me what time I get out of bed and start working. Going from the structure of a 9 to 5 to setting your own rules does need a strategy. The lack of a requirement to work standard office hours was a huge attraction for me – golf is so much cheaper on weekdays in Thailand! But seriously, you do need to create your own rules – for me that meant setting minimum weekly targets for the hours I work, but more importantly what outcomes I achieve within those hours. Focus and outcome orientation has meant I don’t waste time and I can achieve much more in less time – which means more time solving clients' business issues.
5. The Emotional Rollercoaster
Many owners of start-ups have told me that the early months and years of a business can be an emotional rollercoaster. Setting up your own business may be the most important and exciting thing going on in your life at this moment, but some of your potential prospects may not share your excitement. The key thing is what you make this mean and the stories you tell yourself (and they are stories). I believe maintaining a positive outlook helps me to create positive experiences with those I work with. I also believe work should be fun and an expression of our creativity and sense of community.