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Is it time to follow your business dream?

ADVICE: Life and business coach Rasheed Ogunlaru

THERE'S NO doubt that for black and minority ethnic (BME) communities across the UK, 2012 has been a year of job insecurity, redundancy and financial struggle. And if the conversations I’ve had with clients are anything to go by, there are a lot of people who are dreaming of working for themselves.

Perhaps you too seek greater autonomy, the chance to follow your passion, make a greater contribution to your community, or achieve greater financial freedom. Or it could be that you’re skilled and resourceful but your skills and passion just aren’t being utilised or appreciated in your current job.

While it can be fulfilling and rewarding to start your own business, it can also be tough and many who start fall by the wayside.

RESOURCEFUL

In many ways being entrepreneurial has been in African-Caribbean DNA for generations. We have always had to be resourceful and enterprising, especially when faced with limited opportunities in a difficult job market.

But despite this and the wave of interest amongst the public in starting a business created by shows like The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den, there are still too many myths about what it takes to succeed. It’s certainly more than just pitching an idea and racing around in a taxi! Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. The reality is that you’ll have to have drive and fund the business by yourself– at least to start with.

There are many reasons businesses fail: a poor idea, lack of research or planning, lack of finance, poor cash flow; inadequate marketing - the list goes on.

MINDSET

But two things are critical to the success of running your own business and are worth considering from the outset. These are: the right mind-set and skill set. Being an entrepreneur will probably present you with more challenges than a conventional career ever did. However, it also often provides you with more opportunities. It is those who are positive, pragmatic, resilient, open-minded, proactive, flexible and self-responsible who tend to succeed. Belief in yourself, your skills, what you do and why you are doing it are vital.

If you really need the certainty of knowing you’ll be paid on a set day each month, if you don’t like making decisions, if you don’t feel that you’re a leader, if you don’t like engaging with people then being your own boss is unlikely to suit you.

CLARITY

In addition to having the right mindset and skill set, you also need clarity.

This is a fundamental principle of my book Soul Trader –Putting the Heart Back into Your Business. You need to be clear about yourself, your passion, talents and purpose.

Some questions you could ask yourself to achieve clarity would include:

Who am I? What am I really passionate about?

What is most important to me in - i) life, ii) career/business iii) relationships?

What are my circumstances now personally and professionally?

How much money do I need to make? Or wish to make?

Why do I want to start/run my own business?

If you are not sure what the answers to these questions are, just sit with them. They will eventually help you. Also speak to those who are fulfilled in their careers and personal lives – you will learn much that will help you find your own path.

If you are starting out, your journey will involve things such as reading, research, planning, networking and taking courses.

Also think about joining relevant groups in your chosen sector or a local chamber of commerce. Find out about business support organisations and resources in your area. Some of this will be free; other activities will require a fee.

You may be worried about a lack of money to complete some courses. But just remember that it is an investment in you and your future. Being in business requires operational, marketing and financial skills. You don’t need to know it all but you will need to develop your skills and identify and seek out additional support.

In my second article in January I will be looking at the steps you need to take to not only run your business successfully but achieve balance in your life. I will also be sharing how you can reduce the financial and emotional cost of entrepreneurship.

Rasheed Ogunlaru is a leading life coach, speaker and business coach - and is author of Soul Trader – Putting the Heart Back into Your Business. His clients include entrepreneurs, entertainers, Chief Executives and the public. For further details, please visit www.rasaru.com/soul-trader Twitter @rasheedogunlaru.

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