Why you need to act like an entrepreneur before you become one

Are you ready to be an entrepreneur? Jo-Ann Hamilton from SecretBirds explains why you need to start thinking and acting like one, before you leave the safety of employment.

As an ambitious woman you are the author of your own life. Each day is a new chapter in your book, which is filled with wonderful stories of challenges, triumphs and fuelled by inspiration.

Mums are choosing to become entrepreneurs

And for many women, once they become mothers, the chapter they find themselves writing, often involves leaving the security but inflexibility of paid employment, and lurching headfirst into the much more risky (but also potentially way more rewarding) world of entrepreneurship.

A survey last year by Etsy, found that a massive 90% of their shop owners were women, and another study by Direct Line found that two thirds of mums would love to run a business from home.

Why you need to start thinking like an entrepreneur now

But it’s not quite as easy as simply handing in your resignation letter one day, and picking up the keys to your new business premises the next. Starting a new business is often long in the planning, and it can take quite a while before your fledgling company is ready for you to helm it full time.

In the meantime, many women have feet in two camps – they’re a valuable employee by day, and an ambitious new entrepreneur by night (this phenomenon has been nicknamed the 5-9, and is a rapidly-growing segment of the self-employed market).

And during this period, you need to split yourself in two – training yourself to think as a person who is running a business, before you actually are. Even before, perhaps, you have fully firmed up your actual business idea. And you need to get really clear on three important things – your time, resources and money.

Use your time wisely

Time is a precious commodity, and it’s important you use it wisely when working for yourself. As an employee, your time belongs to someone else. But as an employer your time belongs to you, and you need to get used to managing it and ensuring that you are disciplined in your use of it.

To help you do this, it’s a good idea to start making a record of how you actually spend your time. Make a note of trends, review and make changes. It’s easy to make mistakes when you are working for someone else, but when it is all you, everything changes. There isn’t always much room for error as time wasted is an opportunity lost.

Start planing your resources now

One of the biggest perks of working for someone else is limitless access to the resources you need to fulfil your role. From printing paper to the ability to call on the experience and opinions of more experienced colleagues. But as an entrepreneur, you will need to seek out and fund your own resources.

So start subscribing to journals, magazines and join networks where you will meet entrepreneurs. Not only will you be ahead in terms of knowledge once you do make the leap to full time self-employment, but you will have an idea of which ones work for you and which ones don’t.

Also, enrol in online classes where you will learn about business planning, budgeting, marketing, social media and anything else that will help your new business to grow.

Prepare to replace your lost income

As an employee you are comfortably insulated by the security of a steady pay check, and even possibly (if you’re lucky) bonuses. This will of course, cease to exist when you are going it alone, unless you already have passive income being generated.

Try to plan ahead for the time when you don’t have an employer paying you every month and make provision now. If you can, invest a portion of your income into activities such as property, selling information products, network marketing, peer-to-peer lending or investing in dividend yielding stocks.

This ‘passive’ income could serve you well once you start your venture. If passive income is not for you, then you must save with consistency. Do you really need that new pair of shoes? Must you take that extravagant trip? Those stops at the coffee shop twice a day? If you really want to become an entrepreneur, you’ll need to make some sacrifice in terms of money.

Start acting the part now!

If you want to write your own brilliant future and reap the many rewards of owning your own business, you need to start planning now. And that means thinking and acting like an entrepreneur while you’re still an employee.

It may not always be easy right now, but who knows? Maybe by doing so, you’ll actually get to become a real business owner even sooner!

Jo-Ann A Hamilton, is the founder of SecretBirds, an enterprise, which encourages, supports and empowers girls and women through entrepreneurship.