why do you want to start up on your own?

Written by Ed Beckmann Wednesday, 30 March 2011 11:19

The economic state at the moment has prompted a number of people to call me to discuss starting to work for themselves or run a business. Before going straight into the mechanics of regulations, tax, writing business plans etc, I always spend a while discussing the more personal reasons behind the call.

We have different circumstances, ambitions and long- term desires, so it makes sense to consider exactly what you want. I have distilled it down to a list of points to consider and can take action on now.

List your personal ambitions

List the things that you want to do or achieve. You may find it useful to start with headings of finance, friends & family, community & society, reputation or fame, things to excel at and things to do or see.

We do this check to make sure that any business we plan will take us towards, not away from these desires.

Write a job description

If  this seems bizarre, just think of the people you know who run a business and who have said they have no free time, no wages, no holiday etc. It is quite unrealistic for your business to give you regular hours, salary and holiday in the short term, but you should make yourself aware of what you reasonably expect, so that you can work out whether the plans you have can provide what you want.

Also, if you plan everything with no expectation of a minimal return, you can very easily get stuck with customers who get used to low prices and who could not give you a decent living when you want one.


Just note down your annual wages, holidays, working hours and days and the kind of tasks you will be doing. If you would not apply for the resulting job, change your plans!

Work life balance

If you are the boss then there should not be a line between work = bad and life = good. Of course you will have to do things that you enjoy less than others, but aim for the things you do for income to be interesting and enjoyable as well. So life includes an element of work, but it is not one or the other.


Check that the way you do business will be a fulfilling way to spend your time. Be creative – there aremany ways ot get the same end result.

Setting goals

To start with budgeting and making plans can seem like trying to predict the future, especially regarding sales and income. The secret is to do it in steps.


  1. calculate what you want or need to earn for the next six months
  2. work it out in terms of what you do, e.g. number of products sold, sessions done, days delivered etc.
  3. from that work out how many customers it would mean
  4. from that, estimate how much networking / advertising / calling you need to do to achieve it

Naturally your guess of how many calls result in a given amount of business is a guess. However, as you start this estimate becomes more accurate and you can then see how much it would bring you at that rate over six months. Like any long journey, we often have an arrival time in mind and sometimes alter our speed or effort on the way. We cannot control everything, but we can adjust as we go.

the business mission and vision

Sometimes larger organisations can make this a very dry exercise, but here is an interesting and practical way to make it useful for you.


  • decide what difference you want you and the business to make in the world. You can operate at any level – satisfying customers in your village, county or region are totally acceptable, as is a sole aim to make a specific amount of money. That is your mission
  • decide what you, on your way to the mission, will look like, It may be a bustling market stall, a huge welcome at a conference, you signing books for a queue of people, a fleet of your own vehicles around the country. That is your vision

Can you see how these give you something to plan towards?


Hopefully this has given you an insight and some of the tools to plan to work for yourself or run a business which will be both compelling and satisfying. These steps will take far less time to do than other aspects of starting up, and they will be very valuable to update in the years ahead.