Dec 142011

Is now really the right time for you to start a small business?

When you’re thinking of starting a business there is a huge amount of information available on the net to explain the technical aspects of setting up a business. But there’s one crucial area of starting up that isn’t covered in quite so much detail and that is the timing of the start up when should you go live with your small business?

Possibly the most important timing consideration is when you’re making the leap from working for someone else to working for yourself. You’re about to go from a salaried post to one where everything hangs on the success of your new venture so you need to get this right from the start.

There are three typical situations here; the first is that you’re in a secure job and you can chose when you go. The second is you have a period of notice that your job is going to go so have some time to make a plan. The third most unsuitable is that your company has just gone bust or you’ve been fired with little or no warning.

If you have the luxury of choosing your moment to hand in your notice then you’re in the ideal position. You can take time to do research into the best business to start, sort out finance, talk to people etc. – without the pressure of time and money bearing down on you.  I would advocate that you go as far down the line as possible with your new venture before jumping out from your day job. I’d even go as far as suggesting that you have the company up and running for about a year before you make the move. That isn’t always possible but people can get very creative about how they run a business in parallel with a day job so search around and see what others have done. Some people have taken leave days to coincide with sales presentations for their new business, others have employed virtual office staff to answer their phone and then pass on a message that is then returned during a lunch break. If you’re certain that you’re going to exit your job at some time in the future then have a word with your boss. Most are very understanding, particularly if you’re able to propose a way that the firm can benefit; even the fact that you’ve told them of your ultimate aim to leave gives them time to prepare for your departure, rather than you just waling out the door one day.

If you’re working out a period of notice before leaving then you need to set up a timetable for getting things done. Find a good book, or even better a mentor or coach, to give you some guidance and direction; a mentor or coach will also help to keep you on time. The chances are that this time period will be pretty compressed so you’ll need to work quite quickly. Make sure that your bank and any other external agencies are aware of your timescales otherwise you may end up sitting on your hands and wasting time and money while they get sorted out. If time is short then one alternative to consider might be to buy a franchise. The advantage of buying a franchise is that you know the business model is successful and also you will get a lot of support, advice and guidance as part of the package. This can therefore reduce the amount of planning you need to do compared with starting from scratch. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t investigate the franchise thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.

If you’re suddenly made redundant or been fired then I would suggest you think carefully about the whole idea of starting a business at all – at this stage. If you were fired then the chances are that your mind is in a little turmoil and your self esteem and self confidence may feel a little bruised. This is no time for you to be starting a small business, heading out to try and make sales for your new business and be facing further rejection. Probably the most appropriate action at this stage is to find yourself a new job and then use that time to plan out the new venture and chose your time to jump into small business. It may seem painful at the time but you are more likely to be successful in the long run.