Are you setting up a new enterprise after some time in employment?  Then this week’s article is for you: it is intended as a way of helping you take stock.

I’m looking at some of the changes you are likely to be experiencing, and some you have yet to face. Of course I’m using research and my own experience, but it would make the resource a lot richer if you contributed your experience and thoughts too. In this case post a comment by going to the bottom of the article, below my biography to the “Leave a response” feature. I’ll be sure to aggregate responses in future articles!

So to start with, here are 6 things that as an ex-employee you are likely to be affected by in the challenge of making it as a start-up entrepreneur.

On the plus side

1. Disciplineyou have been used to the need to deliver results under pressure to a line manager or a committee.

  • Like me, one of your reasons for going self-employed might be frustration at seeing that investment evaporating in the politics and strategic imperatives of the employer.
  • But if self- employment is going to work for you, freedom from office discipline must be treated as freedom to choose your own discipline.

2. Contactswhatever product or service you will be offering, the idea may have come from your employment experience

  • For years, decades perhaps, you made friends in the environment your firm worked in. These are a major source of clients, customers, collaborators in your new business.
  • Spend time making sure you have their details, imagine them helping you, even paying you cheques!

3. Financial supporta sensitive issue, and I don’t want to tread heavily here.

  • The chances are you have some money to support yourself as you set up your company and search for those vital first customers.
  • Beware – one of the most difficult things to manage is the fact that this is capital: when you spend it nothing replaces it until your new business starts selling! A big change from salaried employment!


Ingredients you may find yourself short of

1.  Entrepreneurial spirit – the difference between entrepreneurs and managers is their attitude to risk and initiative

  • entrepreneurs enjoy building success through risk taking and initiative, managers without the e-spirit like organising what they have for foreseeable consequences.
  • Most managers haven’t been encouraged to use initiative for unpredictable results. For many of us, becoming self-employed means exploring our attitude to risk for the first time

2.  The skills of organising yourselfthe flipside to the discipline of employment

  • The freedom of self-employment is the freedom to choose your own discipline.
  • It’s like what’s different about parachuting from a hot air balloon: you have none of the help you get in the momentum of a team jump from a plane

3. A sense of market reality the intimate impact of the real world

  • As a civil servant in the 1990s the boundaries of my reality lay in annual appraisals and rare post implementation reviews: before the current recession the same (in different words) was true of many employed people
  • Starting out as the owner of a small business my every action had an observable consequence in the real world: I forgot my business cards and potential clients remained potential only; I didn’t send invoices one night, I couldn’t pay bills next month etc.
  • The sense of sharpness is invigorating: until you learn how to use it, it’s also exhausting!

For ex-employees setting up a business is exciting and very new. It is also challenging in ways that we probably can’t predict: let’s make it easier for ourselves and each other by sharing our experiences here!

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