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How to Test the Waters of Entrepreneurship

Starting a new business is a scary prospect, especially in an uncertain market. However, there are ways to dip your toe into entrepreneurship, rather than going in full tilt. For example, you can create your own consultancy business, or manage a personal freelance career. When you spend some time working for yourself, you can get a sense for whether or not you want to run a whole company. Courtesy of the Toast & Jam Community, here are some tips on testing the entrepreneurial waters:

Consider Going Back to School

This might seem like an odd suggestion for people who are looking to start a business, but the reality is the education that comes with certain degrees can greatly improve your chances of business success. For example, you might pursue an MBA to develop your knowledge around business growth concepts and your leadership skills. These days attending college doesn’t mean showing up for on-campus classes every day. There are many online education options so you can go ahead and jumpstart your business while you head back to school.

Start With Strong Marketing

To get the best idea for whether or not you enjoy running a business, you need to make your first foray into self-employment as successful as possible. Although an extremely successful solo gig isn’t the same as managing other people, it will at least give you a sense for the kind of dedication and motivation you need to succeed.

Good business often comes down to good marketing. Make sure potential clients and customers actually know you exist. One option is to hire a freelance marketing expert to develop a sound outreach strategy. They can help you develop a brand strategy, design a website, and come up with an effective media campaign.

Another idea is to develop your own DIY marketing. It’s more time-consuming, but also more cost-effective if you’re beginning on a shoestring budget. For instance, social media is a thriving and thrifty way to reach out. You can tackle your own posts for popular platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook. No matter what route you choose, give yourself a strong marketing foundation, and you’ll be in a great position from the start.

Handle Legal Matters

Don’t make the mistake of thinking a one-person business isn’t still a business. Even freelancers and consultants take on substantial risks in their work. One way to mitigate that personal risk is to set up an LLC. This is a legal designation that separates your business funds from your personal funds. Basically, if you get sued, they can take your profits, but not your house.

Also keep in mind that as a business owner, you may need to access several different types of forms to properly and legally run your business. Fortunately, documents like waivers, employment agreements, and purchase agreements are available online.

Pay Close Attention to the Budget

Remember, this first business you’re starting is basically a trial run. You need to give it everything you’ve got, and that especially includes budget tracking. As Chron notes, pay close attention to any business expenses you have, including technology, website fees, and travel. You should also log the hours you’re working and assign them an hourly value. After all, if you spend ten hours on a project that earns you $50, you’re either charging too little, or you are in the wrong field.

You should also keep close track of your income, and set aside money for taxes as you go. This spares you from getting caught out at tax time with a higher bill than you can manage. Moreover, it allows you to see what kind of work is and isn’t cost effective, which will improve your efficiency over time.

Reflect As You Go

Finally, find some way to reflect on your experience as it goes along. One of the simplest ways to do this is to keep a journal. Your Content Empire suggests setting aside a time each week to sit down and journal about your business, reflect on what’s working, and come up with goals going forward.

You should also use this opportunity to reflect on whether or not you enjoy this kind of work. If you do, great; you should continue at it. But since this is a small, manageable business, it’s also something you can easily bow out of. Don’t continue down the path of business ownership if it doesn’t feel right for you.

Running a small starter business is a great way to feel out the world of entrepreneurship. It can help you identify roadblocks and prepare for obstacles before they arrive. It also gives you the chance to see if running a business is the right match for your skills and motivations. Give yourself the knowledge and experience you need to make the right choice for your future.

Looking for a home for your new business? Traditional office space can be expensive. Instead try out the beautiful, amenity-rich coworking spaces available through the Toast & Jam Community. Become a member today!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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