“With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.” -Chinese Proverb
I’ve recently decided that I am going to take my time with this whole starting-a-business thing. My overall timeline is going to be simple. The initial goal for my business is to be a part-time extra-income generator for me starting sometime before the end of this year. This blog, and the filing of my DBA paperwork, have already set the gears in motion for that. Then, in about 5 years, I’ll decide if I will make the leap to running this thing full-time. This is slightly contrary to the more aggressive timeline I originally had, and I’ve changed my “About” page to reflect this accordingly.
Five years is a long time. Why am I setting this goal so far ahead?
- I need money. I make enough money now to where I can live a comfortable, middle-class existence. The small business websites I’ve been reading claim that as a wanna-be small business owner, I need to be prepared to lower my quality of living for some time because it will take a while before my business starts generating steady income (if it ever does). I want to avoid this. I want to see if I can continue with my current standard of living, if not improve it, throughout the course of my start-up process. In order to do so, I’ll need a cushion of money that I can use to buffer the loss in income I’m sure to experience when I finally make the leap from my current job to working for myself. Starting next month, I am putting together a comprehensive budget with the goal of eliminating my current credit card debt in one year and building a reserve of 6 months worth of my income in my savings account in 5 years. That way at the 5 year mark I’ll have no debt and enough of a financial pillow to basically take a 5 or 6 month hiatus from work and give this full-time business ownership a good, solid, worry-free try. I think this is perfectly acheivable. Over these 5 years I’ll also be saving every penny of money I make from the part-time business to put back into business expenses. If I want to do something for my business, but I don’t have enough money saved for it, then I wont do it. It may seem counter-productive…how can I build my business if I don’t put money into it?…but I think over the course of 5 years, I’ll be able to find ways to grow my business smartly, without the need to throw money at it.
- I need experience. Even with nearly 8 years of computer troubleshooting experience, I know there are many things about fixing and maintaining personal computers that I have yet to learn. I feel it will be a good idea for me to spend some time going out to people’s homes on a part time basis and trying to find problems that will stump me. Then, I can slowly build a database of tried and true fixes so that I will have a solid arsenal of skills and expertise when I start my business full-time. On top of that, I have NO experience with business operations, business finances, business law, business taxes, invoicing, etc. I will spend these 5 years reading books, attending seminars, trying, failing, and trying again. Hopefully, I will learn enough business savy to feel confident when take the plunge half a decade from now. And you all get to join me for the ride!
- I need assurance. Do I really want to commit to a lifetime of fixing other people’s computer problems? Right now I think so, but what about after two years of doing it? I don’t want to quit my job and after a couple of years realize that this whole computer repair thing was just a silly phase. I doubt this, as I’ve had this idea brewing in me since I was in high school, but it’d be nice to know that, after doing this a for a few years, I truly do enjoy it.
Most decisions I make in life are deliberate. I’m not someone who reacts quickly and goes with my “gut”. My gut has let me down in the past and I refuse to use it to make life decisions. So far, I think this philosophy has served me well in life: I’ve travelled the world, made wonderful friends, I’m pursuing my passions, and I can’t think of any major decision that I regret.
I feel like too many start-ups fail because they invest money into an idea before they know it works, or before they are sure that they can handle it. It seems like entrepreneurs feel they need to jump head first into any venture or it’s not worth doing. This maverick philosophy is indeed exciting and romantic. But, as I’ve read about from many disenfranchised would-be business owners, this often leads to disaster. Don’t get me wrong, some people excel at this type of business acumen, but many do not, and I certainly wont.
Slow growth is fine with me as long as there is growth. What’s the rush?
“Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.” -Groucho Marx