Is one of your New Years Resolutions to fire your boss?  Are you ready to take the plunge and go out on your own?  Congratulations!  Owning a business of your own is one of the best ways you can gain financial freedom and independence.  But beware:  It’s not as easy as it looks.  Consider these points before going it alone.

Who will be my target market? All too often people start businesses and mistakenly believe that everyone is a good prospect for their product or service. Nothing could be further from the truth. Start by simply doing an internet search for competitors. If you don’t find any, watch out! You may have a unique product or service but it will take time and money to educate people as to why they will need or want it. It’s much easier to innovate than to create from scratch. And if your business relies heavily on friends and family you’ll likely be disappointed. Leverage them for more contacts but don’t rely on them to provide profit.

Make sure you have sufficient capital to survive the start-up and the second phase. While experts will tell you to have between six and twelve months of living expenses, most people starting businesses need the money they hope to make from the business to survive. You’ll need to determine how you will fund the start-up phase. Begin by creating simple projections of how many contacts you can make in a day. Then estimate the number of people who will buy. Then determine the price and profit you’ll make from each sale. This will give you a projected income per week. Whatever that number is, cut it in half because you’ll be far too optimistic in the beginning. Next, determine how you will fund the second phase of your business. This is the jump from post start-up to early growth. Often the place new businesses die is when the sole-proprietor business grows. It is just as important to plan conservatively as it is to decide what you’ll do if hyper-growth happens. Have a plan for all contingencies but base budgeting on the most conservative projection. Then pay yourself first. This may sound selfish but if you don’t have money to pay yourself you don’t have money to pay anyone else either. You’re no good to vendors or employees if you can’t afford the first employee (you).

Prepare for an emotional roller-coaster. In the beginning you’ll be amazed at what a genius you are as often as you’ll wonder how you could be so stupid. You are navigating uncharted territory here. There will be highs and lows so be prepared. It is best to prepare by careful planning and a firm commitment that you will succeed. Legend has it that Viking settlers burned their boats upon arrival to remind them there was no turning back. Failure is not an option for you. In addition, you’ll change as your business grows but those around you may not. This creates emotional strife when those you spend time with no longer relate to your new persona. Remember, if friends or family members don’t support you it may be they don’t want you to be hurt but it also may be jealousy or fear. You might loose a friend or two and family relations may become strained.

Don’t be fooled by quick changes in your business. In the beginning you’ll be desperate to spot trends. Everything good thing will look like a trend and every bad thing will appear to be an anomaly. Neither is true. Trends happen over time and you have very little history to rely upon. Here is a simple rule to live by: If you try it and it works, keep doing it until it doesn’t work. If you try it and it doesn’t work, don’t try it again without making changes. Advertising sales people may tell you that you have to keep advertising to build up brand recognition. Don’t be fooled. If the ad didn’t work the first time it won’t work next time without changes.

And perhaps most important of all: Is this something I am or can become passionate about? Often businesses are started out of passion and they succeed. But often they don’t because the passion clouds judgement. Be certain your passion is checked at the door and you make your decisions based on reality. However, if you are starting a business that lacks passion, can you find it? Perhaps you’ll be passionate about the lifestyle you are developing or the provision you’ll be able to create for you and your family. Maybe you can set aside funds to donate to your favorite charity or church? Whatever drives you, find a way to tie that to your business and keep that foremost in mind when things get rough. And they will get rough. But it will be worth it. Vince Lombardi said, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”