There are lots of risk and uncertainty in life. Especially more so when you are running a business. And it doesn’t matter whether you are a CEO of a public listed company or an online entrepreneur. On the day you decide to be in business, you are in the game of managing and making decisions for your company in changing economic uncertainty.
Are these good times to start your own business? I will counter this with another question. Is your job safe and without risk under current uncertainties? If you think that you are safe doing that 9 to 5, you need help. Even major corporate requires their executive to do an annual risk analysis to the business domain, coupled with ways to mitigate these hazards.
In order to understand on ways to excel in spite of all the risks and uncertainties in our professional life, we need to go to the different levels of Entrepreneurial Journey in my previous post. Read the post first and then proceed.
1. Know that God is in charge
I could easily omit this for all of the non-believers. But really I can’t. How can I not give credit to the One who has provided for me for all my life and beyond? Karma is real my friend. But there is only one God who came and takes away all our bad karma on the cross. All the other religions will ask you to be responsible for your own deed and no, Buddha is not coming to save you (I was a Buddhist). It doesn’t matter whether it is your personal life or your business, let God in Jesus Christ take charge, and He will hold you through all your life’s uncertainties.
2. Choose and Nurture A Hobby That Can Be Turned Into Business
This applies best for employees from The Asteroid to The Moon. I have a deep passion for movies. Before I work on this website, I can just binge watch DVDs for nights especially during weekends. With my love for movie marathons, I might have just started a movie reviews site but I reckon that is not sustainable. Why? Because time is a limited resource. While I indulge in my DVDs, I will not have time for writing and vice versa. Therefore, I have to examine from within what my next passion is….having sex? Nope, too exhausting and God will not approve of me doing porn.
Anyway, I have always been passionate about getting out of the rat race. So I figure, I’ll start a site that discusses my journey into financial freedom with you. And yup, ways to make money is something that I can talk about day and night with anyone that shows the slightest interest. Yeah yeah, I heard you. You said it’s easier said than done with your heavy schedule but come on, don’t give me dumb excuses. I was a GM of a million dollar company and now, an MD of a profitable trading company that I practically run by myself. And yet, I still find the time.
Look at MyNameIsYeh.com and ThriftsandThreads.com. Both ladies turned their love and passion into money making ventures. Now, are these ladies worried of uncertainties in life? I bet they do. But judging from their achievements they definitely have one thing less to worry about; losing their job!
3. Build Your Reputation Before Anything Else
Associate your name with honesty and integrity on the same day you are born. Unfortunately, many people don’t give a damn about their these. They stood up the appointment. They ‘ghosted’ after saying that they will present for certain function. Some did worse. These scums absconded with money not belonging to them. Maybe their parents did the same thing, therefore, setting their kids up for failing too. I tell you a BIG MISTAKE!
I have done business with many people and am grateful to those who supported me when I am down. Sadly, I always remember those who scammed me. You can burn bridges if you hate a relationship. But never be a slimy trickster.
4. Build Up Your Arsenal of Skills Within Your Profession
Once decided, focus on one industry. When I said “focus”, I’m not asking you to do the same thing for the next 20 or 30 years. For example, remaining as an HR specialist. Or even a Sales Rep in tires for 10 years and a sales rep in building materials for the next 10 years. You won’t be going anywhere if you do this. I like to use the analogy of a martial artist. A student who focuses on karate 6 hours a day will beat another exponent who trained 8 hours on pole fighting, kung fu, and taichi only in the first 5 years. The tide will turn after that.
I often see employees talked about leaving the rat race by running from one venture to another. Most often than not, you will hear these people doing multi-level marketing for a while, then jumping to the latest fad like water dispensers, auto laundry, investing, etc. Mind you, this is not the right way to minimize your risk of losing your job.
Never rush into the same fad as everybody around you. Use your intelligence to gauge these “opportunities”. Are they sustainable or just fly by night scams to trick you away from your cold hard cash? I have seen so many gullible and yet intelligent people falling for quick-rich-schemes that even a 10-year-old can see right through.
If you love your profession as an interior designer, for instance, continue to build from strength to strength on your calling. Look for mentors and learn from them, then add on to your credentials. Sometimes, you might hit what looks like a glass ceiling that prevented you from moving higher. Move laterally. Look for skills that can add to your existing strength and experience. A baker might consider going into technical sales and support in baking ingredients to enhance his understanding of the use of additives. I have chosen to resign from a smaller retail setting to a bigger manufacturing setup to understand better the supply chain of a baking entity. In this way, you will never fear any employer ditching you. You have eliminated the probability of unemployment by adding skills to your arsenal of experience.
One Skill You Definitely Need Is Selling
You can survive anywhere on this planet with only one skill…selling. A business does not exist without the selling process. If you are an accountant, a purchaser or anything else, go attend a course on making cold calls if you aspire to start your own business one day.
5. Build Up Cash Reserve and Be A Minimalist
In this kind of tumult in our market, it is a sin to splurge. Yes, prepare to pay the consequence if you choose to buy an Infiniti when you can only afford a Nissan.
You gain lifelong wisdom from the saying “Reap what you sow”. Save, save and save when you are building your career. Do not fall into the trap of buying a bigger car or a bigger house every once you get a promotion or move to a higher paying job. Identify a comfortable household budget and stick to it. I am saying that even when you are the current COO of a company, stick to the expenses when you were a Sales Manager. You want to build up capital to create something that you can call your own.
For the Asteroids to the Planets of the employees, your goal is simple. Your goal is to be able to walk out of your current situation without any fear and as you feel appropriate.
Now as you own your first startup as The Star or The Sun
6. Profit is Your Goal
Till today, I still can’t understand the way some new startups do things. I have a friend who started an e-commerce business two years ago selling baby and mum products. She proceeds to rent an office lot and hired a helping hand within a year in spite of being in the red and my advise to her to do things herself. I shouldn’t give a damn really since it’s none of my business literally. Get help if you can afford it but not when you need to go into debt to secure those luxuries.
Understand this. As an entrepreneur, you are accountable to make good business from a limited amount of capital entrusted to you by a group of stakeholders. You might secure more business funding along the way but your responsibility is to find the best way to make money from your current startup. Use your capital for experimenting with new opportunities, get a working formula then only start spending on the supporting resources like real estate and helpers later.
The idea of being in business must be right for you to eliminate the risk and uncertainty of a startup. I hate the idea of getting the volume first before making money. Ok, that works for some biggies like Amazon and Facebook. But mind you, look at Twitter, Yahoo, and Uber. These business models are different from most conventional startups because they resort to the scale first, get funding then worry about profits later. Of course, if your startup is similar to this kind, by all means, go ahead. Meanwhile….stick to making a profit as your goal if you ain’t Bezoz or Zuckerberg.
7. Cashflow IS Your Friend
When your money making machine makes a profit to cover your daily overhead, you still need to take care of your cash flow.
Try your best to collect cash from all your customers. On the other hand, negotiate for a credit term from your suppliers. The idea is to sell all your stocks in time before the next inventory turnover to pay off your vendors.
Be a lean and mean money maker even as your startup grow from strength to strength. [*Sometimes, I see 10 to 15 young people serving in the kitchen and front cafe in popular tourist belt and I wonder how long do they last? Work backward. Let us say the owner pay $ 3000 per month on average to each of his friends, coupled with the rental ($15,000/month) and depreciation of a $ 100,000 renovation, the overhead boils down to $ 50,000 per month. Mind you I haven’t added in the utilities and raw materials for the cafe food. The cafe will need to make at least $ 200,000 per month or $7800 in sales per day to sustain the business]
8. Learn To Recognize The Value of Your Service To Your Customer
I think many entrepreneurs miss this concept. Even seasoned business owners are guilty of shortchanging their own value in the life of their clients.
How many times have you seen business falling for their customer’s low ball counter offers? We put this in perspective. Imagine a startup coming to you and offers you software that automates your whole accounting and administrative department. No employees needed from now. What if you come across a shop at a prime location that promises 10,000-foot traffic of office ladies daily?
This is an important concept. Your skills and knowledge are unique. Now, tap into these resources to provide the kind of service that makes your client rich. Imagine I have a product that saves 8 hours of my clients’ production time. I will price my product or service according to the amount of dollar saved instead of what my competitors are selling.
9. Appreciate Rest
This is the biggest difference that separates a Planet from the Star. A Planet sees the monthly salary as stability whereas a Star sees this as a chain. On the other hand, as an employee transition into an entrepreneur, he or she has to get used to the “drought”. You hear me right. Farming is not the only industry that has a drought. All business do.
Drought comes from various sources. The current trade war between the USA and China is a big storm that dries up a lot of businesses, especially in these two countries. I have a lot of friends who quickly ran back to employment because they can’t bear this kind of drought in their business. Imagine we have been busy waking up early in the morning and working from morning to evening until the weekend. Now, we get to rest the whole week or more at times. And yet, we have to remember to pay our employees every month despite these challenges.
To me, drought days are rest from God. You have to learn to appreciate these rest to truly accept our new role as an entrepreneur. Accept these uncertainties as a blessing to be with our loved ones and to gather our thoughts.
10. Ever heard of Keyman Insurance?
Now that you are the soul and spirit of your startup, consider buying a keyman insurance plan for yourself. The concept is simple. The insurance will pay your beneficiaries the amount of money that you bring to the business in case some life-threatening mishaps hit you.
In spite of all the preparations made, any person will still feel fearful of his or her future. However, never let your fear stops you from tapping into your full potential. As a believer, I draw my strength from God and shamelessly leave everything in the peace of His Right Hand. Find your way.