I recently had a chat with a mate who runs his own business about the pros and cons of starting up for yourself. Before he went out on his own, he ran his ideas by a mentor, and was waxing lyrical about how wonderful it would be to be his own boss. The mentor looked at him seriously and said: “Be careful what you wish for… You might just get it”.

There is no question that running your own business comes with a whole slew of headaches that you can never grasp until you’re knee deep in it. However, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that you set yourself up to make the process as smooth as it can possibly be.

Health and safety

Accidents can have a hugely negative impact on any small business. Even if you only have one or two employees, the costs and headaches involved in dealing with the fallout can be debilitating.

Make sure you have solid OH&S protocols in place and that all staff are fully trained in them. Always ensure that your workplace has an emergency plan and sufficient first aid resources on hand to deal with the unexpected. It doesn’t have to cost the earth. I found my First Aid Kits from Hipac, which were surprisingly affordable and great quality.

Financial back-Up plan

Starting your own business is not only risky – It’s expensive.

Without a financial buffer, you could very swiftly find yourself back in the job market, or worse, in serious trouble. If you’re doing things on a shoestring, you will need to very carefully plan out your expenses and incomings to ensure that you can at least scrape through the first 12 months.

Whatever you think your expenses will be, add at least 25%, because there will always be unforeseen items that will come up. If you can get away with starting your business off without quitting your day job, that could be a perfect option. You might end up burning the candle at both ends, but you will likely thank yourself down the track.

Research & planning

Having great ideas is fabulous, however not every brainwave is a money maker.

You will need to do as much research as you possibly can to establish whether the market really exists for your product or service and, if so, it’s size, barriers to entry, competitors, risks and market gaps.

Don’t just assume that customers will simply rock up

You absolutely must have a solid business plan that charts your course through the first year and beyond. Don’t worry if plans change as the business develops: they inevitably do. Flexibility and adaptability are both great qualities to strive for, poor organisation and planning are not.

Understand your legal requirements

Whether it’s employment, zoning restrictions, taxation, health and safety, local council permits or any other legal requirement, nothing can bring a small business to a grinding halt faster than the long arm of the law stepping in.

Legal requirements to can provide a swathe of hoops to jump through and be a source of immense frustration. However, not doing your homework can get you fined, shut down or worse.

There is no question that running your own business can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. The flexibility to chart your own course and balance home life with your profession are certainly worth the stress and headache for many of us.

By ensuring that you plan well and understand all the implication and external influencers, you can certainly minimise your risk and give yourself the absolute best chance for success. Good luck!

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