When is the right time to start to take the entrepreneurial leap?
This question plagues the mind of millions of aspiring entrepreneurs, many of whom find themselves in the unfortunate position of "job lock", or the inability to freely leave a job for fear of losing valuable employee benefits, such as healthcare.
Recently, however, there has been renewed excitement for entrepreneurship with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Of course, the ACA has its problems (okay, that's an understatement) and no shortage of detractors (another understatement). If successful, however, it could reduce the burden and stress of healthcare costs and effectively eliminate one of the most significant barriers prohibiting countless Americans from pursuing their startup dreams.
So, if (and it's a big "IF") healthcare was to become a little easier to obtain and afford, might it be time to renew your aspirations of quitting your job and taking that entrepreneurial leap? Here are a few ways to get started:
- Talk About Your Aspirations: I find that one of the most inspirational activities is to simply talk about your entrepreneurial dreams. Admit that you have them, and that you are working toward achieving them. It helps to surround yourself with supportive and optimistic people who will offer their unconditional encouragement. The idea is that if you start talking, you will be more likely act. With that said, if you start the conversation, be willing and ready to follow through. Nobody likes someone who's all talk and no action.
- Network, Network, Network: Finding funding, business partners, vendors and customers is difficult when you're starting out. Get a head start by organizing your efforts ahead of time. Schedule time each week to become acquainted with at least one new business contact, attend networking events, and participate in entrepreneurial and startup events and activities, such as Startup Weekends. In the end, the experience and stack of business cards and contacts will prove to be invaluable--and one less thing to do later.
- Keep a Journal: If you have other responsibilities (as most of us do), it can be difficult to stay focused on your business idea. One method I have found useful is to keep a journal with me at all times. I use it to organize my day, but also to record fleeing ideas that pertain to the business. I categorize part of the journal into sections that would correspond to a business plan: marketing, operations, finance, human resources, etc. useful articles get clipped and glued in my notebook as well. Eventually, I have helpful material and plenty of market research to easily integrate into a business plan. If you are more technical and less tactile, then apps such as Evernote can help you organize your thoughts and clip articles on the fly.
- Follow a Mentor: Of course, finding an entrepreneurial mentor would be great, but you can easily find an online mentor, too. Identify entrepreneurs you admire and respect, and follow their work. These days, many amazing entrepreneurs and business leaders, from Richard Branson to Fred Wilson, regularly put out blogs, tweets and other useful articles. You can learn a great deal from simply reading their thoughts online, and if nothing else, you are sure to be inspired by them.
- Create a Mental Onramp: Let's face it, massive life changes, like starting a first business, are not easy for some people to swallow. Instead, take a few baby steps that will mentally prepare you, such as creating business cards, starting a website, or obtaining a company business mailbox. These little steps slowly move your business along the path from a mere dream to something that really exists.
These steps will get you started. But remember that the only way to actually live the entrepreneurial dream is to just do it. You can practice, read, research, and network all you'd like, but in the end, you need to take the initiative and get started. You can speed up the process by understanding and accepting that you will most likely fail at first, but the journey is the most rewarding part.
So, while the people in charge of Healthcare.gov sort out that colossal mess, remember that the prospect for readily available and affordable healthcare may be the catalyst you need to get started toward your entrepreneurial dreams.
Do you have other tips for aspiring entrepreneurs to reignite their aspirations? Please share below!