The fear of the unknown

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The premise of this blog is my story of starting my own business by accident, because I became unemployed and couldn’t find another job. I had no choice.

Of course prior to my involuntary arrival in what was a freelance market (my businesses have evolved and diversified since and some is outsourced) I would not have dreamed of going out there on my own from the comfort of an employment with a great monthly “pay check”.

Lack of freedom

In employment we have little freedom, though. We do not make decisions about the business which could affect us or improve our situation. We cannot plan to change things. We can suggest to our bosses how things might be done differently. Our best ideas may be taken up, but we cannot guarantee to get the credit or the benefit.

When we are bosses ourselves, I hope that we do give our employees credit where it’s due, and proper reward, but as an employee we have rights in connection with our employment, but not rights to be appreciated.

Talent

It is understandable when we come across employees who are talented enough to run their own businesses that they are afraid to make that big step. As employees they feel more secure in getting a regular income, but that is month-to-month security. It is not a guarantee that the future will bring the same rewards they are getting right now.

Of course there is no guarantee of success in running one’s own business. There is much more control of our destiny, though. We can make a decision which will have an impact in the future. We can make changes to our lives with more freedom. We can build relationships with other businesses. It’s just simply being much more satisfying.

I would not try to badger a talented employee into making a giant leap into starting a business, but I would give every encouragement if I thought their idea was sound. What would you do?

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Enterprise and risk

I have been talking about risk recently in another context. I was a little dumbfounded yesterday when my Mum said she was told by a family member that she should not sign up to Facebook because there was a risk of identity fraud. Of course there is a small risk. I am indebted to @royatkinson for this link and it could be said that I and all of us who are active with profiles on-line run some risk, but what is life without risk?

The reality is that most small businesses which offer services of any kind and very many who are making and / or selling a product need an on-line presence, and what is more, need to engage with their network. In fact, you need to be on-line to get a network beyond a comparatively small number of friends, which is not enough people to refer you. I was just trying to list how many websites where I have a profile. In terms of business and social networks I have at least ten, and must have more I cannot think of at the moment. I have four blogs: two for business and two personal.

The point is that we have to give some of ourselves in order to be noticed. There are then several steps until we get to business. We need to enhance our reputations (or hope to) and be helpful and give useful information to others, but we need a public presence on-line to get known to further our businesses.

I think the contrast between me and our relative telling my mother not to sign up to Facebook is that I am in business on my own account. The relation has been in a large, safe, cocooned corporate environment for thirty years and is involved in IT security, and she clearly cannot see beyond the small risk to her employer (“more than my job’s worth to access Facebook at work”) to allowing my Mum to have a bit of fun making friends and signing up to her favourite jockey’s fan appreciation society.

There is no success in business without risk. If we are in the front line with our own businesses then we assess the risks and take them if necessary, looking at the likely though seldom certain outcome. It will be hard for those coming out of large corporates in the recession job losses, because they may be too risk-averse to start well in the freelance world. Those of us who have been round the block have learned to live with the risks, which reminds me that I will help my Mum sign up to Facebook next time I drop in.

© Jon Stow 2009