Over the last two weeks, we have brought out the reality that people do leave paid employment for several legitimate reasons. Even if they don’t at some ‘early’ point, they will necessarily retire either because of public statutory requirements or private corporate policy reasons. Regardless of when or how one will be leaving, it is wise that the disengagement is planned deliberately and over a reasonable period.
In the course of this series, we have suggested specific actions that need to be taken for those leaving paid employment and going into business. We will conclude the series today with a few more suggestions.
Partner with only those who understand what business is: We have earlier discussed the wisdom of building and keeping the right ‘tribe’, having defined ‘tribe’ in our context as “… people from diverse backgrounds and experiences that are available, on paid and unpaid basis, to support you.” Within this requirement, a specific mention should be made on the need to identify and partner with those who understand what business is, what it entails and how to go about starting, running, and exiting a business.
One of the advantages that those who have worked in public and private sectors have is the network of relationships they have built over a reasonable period. Identify those within that network whose business philosophies, practices, and achievements you admire, respect, and identify with. Sometimes we know these people directly and other times we may need third parties to introduce us to them. Most of these people will gladly work with you to provide guidance as you may require.
When I was in paid employment, there was an elderly businessman I had always admired. I had read the two books he wrote. Unfortunately, I had not made any effort to get in touch with him when I was still employed. But a few weeks after I had left my job, I made effort to contact him. After a few visits to his office and seeing his personal staff, a private appointment was scheduled for me. It has been some two decades now, and he remains an invaluable guide to me today as he was the first day I met him.
Besides those who may offer advisory like my elder guide, you will need those of the same generation as you and younger that will work with you. In so doing, a rule of thumb is that you should try to flock with those who have the same hunger for business success as you. It should also be about competence, integrity and mutual respect.
Employ only the staff that you need: As mentioned severally in this series, those of us that had the opportunity and privilege of working in large and successful organisations have the proclivity to want to employ the type of people we worked with in our former places of paid employment. This doesn’t always work for two reasons. First, the employee mindset, particularly in our environment, tends to have a larger-than-life sense of entitlement. Those ‘entitlements’ might be very costly for the new business you are trying to set up to bear, thereby making success more difficult to attain within an otherwise shorter period. Secondly, at the start of the business, at the least, you need people with more entrepreneurial than raw employee mindsets. The more entrepreneurial workers will gladly make initial sacrifices and ‘delay gratifications’ as they optimistically look ahead to some larger success in the future, while the employment-minded staff would want their rewards ‘right now’.
Besides employing only people with the right mindsets and of course competencies, you will need to minimise their numbers. This is because your payroll is likely to add to your fixed costs, which as we mentioned last week, should be kept to the barest minimum possible, of course without loss of productivity.
Start ‘small’ and be comfortable: Employing the minimum number of people is only a small part of ‘starting small’ which should be an objective. Obviously, depending on your industry, there may be minimum production capacities that you have to start with and there may also be the usual ‘economies of scale’ that may be achievable. Within these limiting factors, it is wise to generally start small as you build your understanding, skills, and experience at the lowest costs possible.
Another dimension to starting small is operating within your comfort zone. I would always advise that you should do what you are comfortable doing. By all means, ‘stretch’ yourself but do not be uncomfortable with what you are going into or committing to. Ignore those calling on you to ‘leave your comfort zone’. The eagle in the photo below dived into the sea to catch a fish. It catches the fish and flies out all within a few seconds. It has ‘stretched’ itself and is probably ‘comfortable’ doing that for those seconds. However, anything beyond those few seconds might be too risky for the eagle and the consequences might not be bearable to it.
Keep records: Keeping records should come easy for people that have been employed in organised workplaces. This discipline should be sustained after leaving paid employment regardless of whether the person goes into business or not. This need is, of course, however, much higher for those going into business.
Keeping records should start from registering an appropriate business name or limited liability company and overall regulatory compliance; Building business plans and an accounting system, VAT and CIT payments; Communication with your suppliers, customers, bankers, etc. Keeping records necessitates that the hard and/or soft copies of documents are secured as may suffice. Records of contracts, transactions, payments, etc. are particularly important and should not be treated casually.
Take care of your health! The stakes in business are very high. The demands on you, intellectually, emotionally, and physically will be high. Coupled with that, most people that leave paid employment to start their businesses would be in their thirties and forties. Some would only start in their fifties and even sixties. These are age ranges within which the individual must, if they haven’t been, begin to take particular interest in and attention to their health. The way to remain alert, sane, active, and motivated is to ensure that you take care of your mental and physical health. Medical tests should be more often and regular; Exercise should be regular and interest in what you eat should be more than casual.
People that have worked in organised workplaces have the right educational background and the experiences that will help them succeed in business. However, they will need to go into business the right way, with the right support and do the right things. This brings us to the end of this series, and we will take up ‘Developing Strategy’ for your business next week.
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