When should you own your own business?
Conventional wisdom suggests you start your own business once you have identified a product need, have developed a well-researched business plan, and have sufficient financial backing to pay start-up costs and fund your lifestyle for at least a year while you set the business up.
For me, the impetus to start my first business was that I had walked away from a very highly paid, high-profile role because my values no longer matched the values of the organisation. I had no new job lined up, and I quickly discovered that a young, high-achieving woman was virtually unemployable in what was then, in New Zealand and Australia, a hierarchical life insurance industry dominated by older white men. In short, I had to start my own life insurance company in order to have a job!
There is no perfect template that tells you when it’s the right time, but I believe having in-depth expertise (yourself and/or within your team) in your chosen market is a precursor to the success of your start-up business.
What are the tips and traps of being your own boss?
You have to lead, whether you see yourself as a leader or not. Your staff and your customers are putting their careers, their lifestyles and their expectations in your hands. They must have confidence in you, so you must be confident about yourself. You should expect to work harder than anyone else in your business. You must be decisive, even when you are not sure that the decision is 100% correct. The values of the organisation will be your values – you cannot expect your people to do as you say, not as you do. How you lead will define the type of business you end up building, so whether you like it or not, it is all about you!
Why surround yourself with great people?
In the end it’s your business, your risk and your decisions. There is no risk to your status in surrounding yourself with people who are better than you at their particular discipline. Why wouldn’t you want to be challenged by experts before landing on a decision, especially given you are the ultimate decision-maker? I see myself as the conductor of the most talented orchestra around: brilliant individual musicians who, without me, would not collaborate to make music that is more spectacular than the sum of the individual parts could ever be.
FOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR,