Some people have a knack for turning ideas into products. Watch an episode of Shark Tank and you will probably agree. Many of the items featured on the show now are available at major retailers. Once struggling entrepreneurs now earn more money annually than most people earn in a lifetime.
Those made-for-television stories can encourage some people to keep going. They also can discourage others who feel as if their struggles are permanent and their destinies out of their control.
Creating a viable side business isn’t easy. Many people with dreams of transitioning from a traditional job into that of an entrepreneur give up before they ever realize their goals. The “overnight success” pictured on television and in magazines causes them to feel as if making slow progress is really failure.
I understand. I started my side business in 2001 and kept working at it through many transitions in my traditional job. I’ve been fired, displaced, outsourced, and un-hired. Though my side business generated decent income, it was never enough to justify my desire to set aside the craziness associated with traditional employment. My side business stayed on the side.
Today, I don’t have a side business because a few months ago, my side business became my only business. In a very short ninety days, I’ve grown more and more comfortable in doing what I’m designed to do. This 90-day transition was fifteen years in the making, so here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.
Five Lessons on Transitioning to Full-Time Entrepreneurship
- Clearly identify your skill set. I was trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. As a result, I wasn’t sure about my real skill set. Eventually people I trust (like mentors and family members) began identifying for me some areas in which they thought I was very effective. I slowly began moving my business focus in that direction and things started happening.
- Clearly identify your objective. Notice there is no s on objective. For many years, I was more focused on what I wanted to leave than on where I wanted to go. I wanted to get out of the day job because I wasn’t thriving there. However, I didn’t have a clear objective about the future. Once I created a vision for the future based on my skill set, I started seeing more possibilities.
- Clearly identify your support group. There is a misnomer associated with the term solopreneur. There is no such thing. You can’t work in isolation. You can’t sell your products and services without engaging people. There’s no such thing as doing it alone. But, you have to know who you can trust. Many people who meander through life living below their potential will create interference for those who show signs of rising to the top. You need to know who those people are and who the people are who will support and encourage you.
- Clearly identify how you will serve people. I totally missed this one because I was more focused on what I would get. My skill set lends itself to helping others achieve their goals. I serve people by employing my gifts and abilities to strengthen them. When I turned my attention to serving others, opportunities began showing up.
- Clearly identify what’s next. Entrepreneurs don’t live for retirement; they live to make a difference wherever they are. They might be very successful in one area, but they don’t stop there. They keep looking for new opportunities to serve new people in new ways. You need to be aware of the adjacent possibilities. Those are the new experiences available with a minor pivot in your business.
Today, I’m working in my home office fully aware of the needs of my clients. I have a variety of projects underway and more coming. I’m busier than I’ve ever been but life is fuller than I ever imagined it could be.
Last week I met with one of my clients whom I hadn’t see face-to-face in several months. As we talked he told me how different I am today. He said, “Based on what I see today, I think you were weary when we last met.”
He was right. I knew what I needed to do but didn’t have the courage to do it. Today, I’m on the other side of that decision and everything has changed. It took me fifteen years to get here. I hope this encourages you to pursue a shorter timeline!