Repost from 31-5-15, from my old blog. Like all the other reposts, I cringe slightly at my writing style but I’m leaving them unedited because they reflect my thoughts at the time I wrote them: they do all have sound info in them for anyone wanting to do the things in the posts. This one discusses starting your own business.
A good option for people with certain mental illnesses (or living under the shadow of them) can be self-employment, which is the same as starting your own business. As someone who regularly has Big Ideas, I often think to myself “I’m going to start a business doing THIS” do some research and run headfirst into it. Usually I do it for a couple of months then it stops fitting around my life just as it takes off. More and more recently, I’ve tended to at the very least recoup the costs of setting up a business (stock, advertising etc) as well as earn what I would have done in regular employment for the time I was doing it.
Some things just bombed out entirely (Avon, for example), while other things did really well (Ann Summers Party Plan, working as a pro-domme, both of which netted me hundreds of pounds a week) but were limited by my life circumstances making me have to stop doing them, i.e. because I was starting teacher training and due to losing both parents in 5 months of each other, respectively.
For all of them, I wrote myself a business plan. I also kept balance sheets, figures, informed the tax office of what I was doing (I give myself 2 months’ grace on this so if I change my mind and haven’t earned anything, there’s no ballache of paper trail for proving I earned nothing, etc), and did a SWOT analysis and 4P’s analysis. I would LOVE to do an MBA, by the way, and I revel in doing all these things because I see it as good practice for when I finally get a sustainable business that can survive going on hold for 4-8 months every now and again.
A lot of people look to very successful businessmen (and sometimes women, but there is a HUGE gender imbalance), and think, “wow, they are born to be entrepreneurs, they just knew what they were doing from day one, I could never do that.” Many of the most successful businesspeople have left a huge trail of failed projects in their wake: Virgin Cosmetics, The Sinclair C5, Paris Hilton’s first single, for example. Dragon’s Den self-made millionaire Duncan Bannatyne had an ice cream van for a while. Few businesspeople had one single business that took off and kept on growing. That’s because the thing about businesses is, you’re not “born” to be an entrepreneur; all of the skills required can be learned and you can outsource the things that you aren’t comfortable with doing (such as your accounts or advertising design). Anyone can run a business, it just takes that first leap out of your comfort zone and into the unfamiliar. If your business idea fails, it doesn’t mean you’re bad at business, there’s loads of reasons why a business might fail, and you can start as many businesses as you like, there’s no law saying you can’t start 100 different businesses in your lifetime until you find one that works for you, and every time you have a set back, you will learn an important lesson. The only thing separating a “successful businessperson” from someone who goes back to the office or back to unemployment, is that the successful person keeps failing (same as everyone else), then keeps acting on new ideas and learning from failures until something sticks. Like the spider that made the same web several times that inspired Robert the Bruce. Or something. Obviously this takes a lot of mental energy and sometimes that eludes me, hence the “needing to put it on hold for 4-8 months occasionally.”
Next time, I’m going to talk about which ideas make a good business and which ones don’t.