Ten years ago I was working a full time job, I had a decent salary and a seemingly steady life. I was working 8-9 hours everyday (plus overtime too many times a week),and coming home after work and simply laying in front of the TV became my purpose in life. I worked just like everybody else around me, I had to pay my bills, I had to let go of all the dreams I had as a young adult and embrace reality.
I was trapped. I felt like a robotic mind replaced my own and my only joy in life became kicking off my shoes at the end of the day. But then something changed. In one of the many work-related crises, I had a panic attack. A small one, but enough to help me realize something: I needed to change my life. The next few months were crucial: I decided to quit my job and to finally open my own bookstore.
This is how the long and difficult journey in becoming my own boss started. But it was one fueled by passion and a strong desire to make my own choices, to take charge over my own life and, of course, to do something I actually liked. Obviously, being your own boss isnít all fun and games, itís not easy and itís a lot of pressure. But in the end, itís totally worth it. Here are the steps that helped me make it on my own:
1. Think it, plan it, research it
The first thing you need is an idea. Focus on what you now or what you love. For me, it was easy, Iíve always had dreams of opening an independent bookstore, so the idea came naturally. Remember that this is an essential phase in developing a successful business, so you must do your best in not being overenthusiastic, make practical decisions and maybe think about how you can improve something that already exists. After you embrace the perfect idea for you, develop a plan. You must think of everything: costs Ė make a budget ̶ , marketing, possible obstacles. This means that you are obligated to conduct a thorough research. Find out all the regulations and laws, consider everything tax-related, know your competition and definitely compare the costs to the potential market.
2. Develop a marketing strategy
Marketing, in a nutshell, helps the world know who you are, what youíre offering, why youíre better than the others. The marketing strategy is essential to the marketing plan, and it should derive from the market research. This will help you understand how and to whom you must sell your product in order to get maximum profit, thus keeping your business running, and it will also help you set up your business goals. But donít forget that marketing should be developed while remaining in the budget limits.
3. Get financing
For me, this was a difficult step. I had the plan, but I didnít know how to get the money. Practical thinking saved the day once again. I stopped believing it was impossible to get the money and I started looking for real. You may try going to the bank, find out if they have any start-up loans available and if you qualify. Always be on the lookout for local investors that may be interested in investing and donít forget your friends and relatives, because you may be surprised. If that doesnít work for you, you should keep in mind that crowdfunding is something that a lot of people are using right now and itís a great way to start building your dream.
4. Find the perfect place
Once youíve figured out all the things listed above, itís time to find the right place. Maybe you already know the perfect place or maybe youíre completely lost, like I was. But, again, research is what helped me out of this situation. In deciding this, you must create a balance between how much youíre paying on renting (or buying) the place and how much you expect to be making.
5. Take care of people
This was the most important thing for me when I finally opened my bookstore. I started with a small space and a really small team. I was honest to them and I offered the best I could, considering the available budget. But I also made sure that they worked in a great environment and that they were aware of everything safety related, because, as a WSH research in Australia indicates, learning about work safety is always important. Keeping people safe and treating my employees well is something that is very important to me, I strongly believe that the people you work with are those who make your business run smoothly.
Once again, becoming a business owner and answering only to yourself is a painstakingly long road. Itís filled with sleepless nights, stress and difficulties. But nothing great comes with no effort. This experience will help you develop as a person and will make you feel empowered and in charge of your own life, which is something all of us aspire to become.