balloonEvery day, thousands of people wonder whether it would be possible to make money on their own and leave behind 9-5 work. The reasons are almost always the same: wanting to leave the imprisonment of working in a cubicle, getting away from the stress of a toxic work environment, a bad boss, horrible coworkers, being able to enjoy life by spending more time with children or family, or pursuing a creative or business pursuit that is the individual’s true passion. These are not unreasonable or unrealistic goals!

Americans, by far, work harder and longer than citizens of any other developed country, and the workplace can leave individuals feeling as though they are nothing more than a battery. Worse, the individual often feels trapped and prevented from doing anything to change their circumstances because of financial or other responsibilities.

The good news is that starting up your own business is possible and can absolutely lead to a happy, profitable, and productive life. Most entrepreneurs worry that they will not make money, or won’t make enough money to survive, pay bills, live comfortably, etc.  They may even be risk-averse and afraid of taking the dive into the deep-end.  But these types of fears can stunt the prospects and ambitions of what could be a business with a lot of potential. “Whenever you see a successful business, it means that someone, somewhere along the way, made a brave decision,” the saying goes.  Obviously, running a business is not easy. But being realistic is different than being overly negative or pessimistic.  So what should you consider if you are thinking about going out on your own?

Are You the Type of Person Who Would Be Happy Running a Business?  Success in business depends on a few factors, the most important of which is the person at the center of the business.  Are you the type of person that would be happy running your own business? Does the idea of being solely responsible for your own failure or success thrill you, or frighten you? Consider the analogy of starting and maintaining a vegetable garden. Gardening is an activity, unlike many, that requires constant care and attention.  Getting results can’t be done overnight, and it takes a lot of work, watering, pruning, fertilizing, etc.  to get just a  few tomatoes. Every day, you will have to go out into the garden, to make sure your plants are doing okay, making adjustments if there is too much sun, too much water, or not enough.   Your garden may be afflicted by bugs, pests, too much rainful, cold, and other factors beyond your control, which you will have to deal with. Over time, however, you will learn what it takes to get things just right, and you will eventually end up with a bounty of more fruit or vegetables than you could ever eat.  In fact, you may get so good a growing tomatoes that you will need help managing your garden, and as time goes on, your garden will grow bigger and bigger and bear even more fruit. At some point, you will have so much fruit that you will be able to sell it to others. As time goes on, you will be able to give new gardeners tips on how to make a great garden.  Gardening is a great analogy to running a business. If these types of activities appeal to you, then you would probably make a fantastic business owner.

Is there a Need for Your Product/Service? The second biggest challenge that  entrepreneurs face is running a business selling a product or service that there is a market for – otherwise, there is no one to buy what you are selling. It is important to remember that a business is different from a hobby. A hobby is a leisurely expenditure of time or money for something that brings enjoyment… but does not always generate money to pay bills, rent, and live comfortably.  It is extremely important to distinguish between hobbies and businesses, because there are activities that make great hobbies, but not great businesses. Having a consumer base for your product/service is crucial – without it, your business simply will not survive.

Prospective business owners tend to make one of two mistakes: they either grossly overestimate the need for their product or service, or are unnecessarily afraid of getting into what they perceive as a crowded field. Just because there are other businesses like yours out there does not mean that you will necessarily be a failure at what you intend to do. The key is to make a distinction. What will your business do differently? This could be based on location, your philosophy, your billing structure, your pricing model, or the variety of the selection you will be providing to potential customers or clients. Even in very saturated markets, it is possible to do fantastic at a new business. The key is simply about finding where the need is and fulfilling it.

Why Should Customers Use Your Goods/Services?
There are thousands of businesses in California and throughout the nation – how will you distinguish yours? Businesses distinguish themselves in many ways, some by offering something completely new, others by location, specialty, or price-point.  Whatever you decide, you will need to find some way of differentiating  your business from the hundreds of thousands of others like it.  Providing something unique is again, critical to the long-term success of a business. A pizza shop that opens in the same neighborhood of 3 other very highly regarded pizza shops, but is not as good, will probably not survive.

Surviving the First 6 – 12 Months

To get your new business going, you will have to talk turkey at one point in time: will you have the necessary funds to pay for your life expenses, rent, mortgage, loans, and other expenses while the business is in its fledgling state and not yet profitable?  This is probably the biggest obstacle that most prospective business owners face. If you happen to be in a relationship with a significant other who is earning enough income for the both of you, then obviously things are going to be much easier. Most individuals are not in that boat. The solution is often  a combination of several things: saving up money from your full-time job until you have enough to survive on for the first few months, or working nights or weekends on your new business until it generates enough money to allow you to transition over from full-time work. Another great option is to take part-time work to make ends meet while you focus on developing your new business.

It Isn’t Easy, But It’ll be the Best Decision You Ever Make

Please don’t misunderstand the reality of running a business-it is incredibly time-consuming and a tremendous amount of hard work. However, it can be the most amazing and best decision you’ve ever made in your life. Imagine being able to do what you love without the constriction of being answerable to others, being forced to work in less than pleasant working circumstances, or the stress of the common workplace. Imagine being able to do what you want, when you wanted, being able to have enough time to spend with your family, leisurely activities, and all of your hobbies that have probably been pushed out of your life. Imagine being able to take your children to school in the mornings be with them in the afternoons and spending weekends doing what you love with your family. All these things are possible and a reality for many small business owners.

Starting a business isn’t an easy decision to make, but it can lead to incredibly rewarding results, and the life that you may have always dreamed of. If you are thinking about going out on your own, and aren’t sure where or how to start, drop us a line.

AXIS Legal Counsel has helped advise numerous entrepreneurs, founders, and business owners about starting their own businesess and dealing with legal issues that arise after the business has been formed.  AXIS can assist with startup formations, contracts, deals, and transactions, business administration, corporate governance, operations, risk management / insurancelabor/employment matters, intellectual property, healthcare, crisis management, directors/officers, private/data security, technology, statutory/legal compliance, and business litigation. AXIS represents California and Delaware startups,  Corporations, LLPs, LLCs, Partnerships, Small Business, Startups, and other business matters involving corporate law.

For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent your startup or business  in connection with any legal matter, contact info@axislegalca.com or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation. Axis’ managing attorney Rabeh M. A. Soofi is ranked as one of the “Top Women Lawyers of Southern California” by SuperLawyers Rising Stars, and represents businesses and start-ups throughout Los Angeles and California.

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