QUESTION: I have always dreamed of quitting my job and starting my own business from home. But I've worked for companies all my life, and while I do know how to be innovative, I don't know how to handle simple things like getting computers repaired, sending out direct-mail coupons or ordering supplies. I'm afraid I won't be able to handle everything on my own. Are there places that can help?
ANSWER: You probably won't be able to jump right in and do all the new things you've never done before. There's always a learning curve involved in mastering new responsibilities. We suggest starting your business on the side while you're still drawing a regular paycheck so you can get through the learning curve before you run out of money.
One of the most rewarding things about being your own boss is that you develop new aspects of yourself. You may find some new hats fit more easily than you expect. Others may take more time to adjust to, but there are plenty of ways to get help from sources that work best for you:
- If you're a reader, check out the many books and magazines available on the subject of starting a business.
- If you're a listener, attend workshops, join local networking groups, or talk with a volunteer counselor from SCORE (www.score.org) or a professional at your nearest Small Business Development Center (www.sba.gov/gopher/local-information/small-business-development-centers).
- If you prefer using the Internet, use search engines like Google to find sites on almost any start-up topic. You can also join online communities and listservs, or use specific sites offering know-how like www.ehow.com.
There's nothing like rolling up your sleeves and jumping in. When heading out on your own, think of yourself as an explorer in uncharted territory. But if exploring new ground by yourself doesn't suit you, hire a coach who specializes in helping people get new projects underway. Coaches help you brainstorm and stay on track, and they point you in possible directions to explore. You can get referrals to coaches from the International Coach Federation (ICF) at www.coachfederation.org or (888) 423-3131.
Paul and Sarah Edwards are the co-authors of 15 books, including Working From Home.