6 mistakes I made when I went from employee to entrepreneur

There are things that nobody tells you that you will live when you undertake and that you discover when you are on this adventure. Several happened to me and I want to share them so that your venture is less complicated.

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There is an old saying that says “no one learns from someone else’s head.” The truth is that I believe that seeing ourselves reflected in the experiences of others and knowing what their mistakes were, can help us move forward with more accurate and faster steps, as well as avoid many headaches when it comes to undertaking .

It is true that most of the time we enjoy talking more about the successes , what we did well, and what turned out as we expected. But little do we like to talk about our gaffes, about those things that did not turn out as we wanted, about our mistakes and failures .

Sometimes we learn a lot more and help people a lot more by speaking to them from experiences that have not had such positive results, about the lessons we take from them and that my goal in writing is to help you and deliver value to you. Today I share with you six mistakes that I made when I decided for the first time to go from employee to entrepreneur , with the intention of helping you who are thinking of doing it too.

About 10 years ago, my husband and I decided to open a restaurant. At that time we were full-time employees: I in a company as a process engineer and he as a consultant also in the engineering and business area. We opened it with great enthusiasm, but soon after we realized that things were not going as we had thought.

Here I tell you the mistakes we made on that occasion:

1. Entrepreneurship with an employee mentality

There really is a big difference between both mindsets and it is not that one is better than the other. I’m not going to tell you, as many do, that having an employee mentality is wrong. For many years I had her, she was a very successful professional and I was happy with what she did. I reaped many fruits throughout my career as an employee, which I even enjoy today.

Definitely a big part of our success in whatever we do is that our mentality is aligned with what we want to do, and especially with the results we want to obtain. It’s like a chain: mindset, actions, results.

When I decided to start a business, I had also been working as a chemical engineer for almost 10 years, I had a good salary, and job stability, I had no children. One of the fundamental values at that time for me, like any employee, was stability, security and a fixed income month after month, plus the benefits that the company provided. I started with a vision that this business was also going to be a steady and stable income month after month. But it is a big mistake to start a business with this mindset.

In addition to the values of security and stability, there are other characteristics of the employee mentality, which is fear of taking risks and investing. You are also used to the fact that you don’t really make the most momentous decisions for the company, you have a line of command and you usually follow superior directions or decisions.

On the other hand, when you undertake the responsibility of making decisions and, above all, the consequences of them fall on you. The job as an employee already has a defined structure, a description of your position and your responsibilities and is actually quite predictable.

When you start a business from scratch, it is like starting to sow a seed and you have to wait for a harvest time, you will not necessarily have a profit in the first or sixth month, and even in the first year. Therefore, if you start a business thinking about having an immediate return and you do not prepare yourself psychologically and also financially for this, you may not reach the first year without having quit.

And I have seen this mistake even in other friends and colleagues who have decided to undertake without being mentally prepared and without good planning of their finances. They hope to recover the investment immediately. They think that their newly started business or company will almost instantly become a source of income at the end of the month as if it were a second job.

2. Undertake in something that is not your passion

This also happened to me. I started a restaurant, an area that was not really my passion, I had never been interested in cooking, I did not have the knowledge and skills, but above all I did not have the passion and love for this type of business, which also requires a very important amount of time and dedication.

I chose this business because at that time of ignorance on the subject, it seemed a manageable business, that we could delegate the kitchen part to third parties and that it could generate sales and income quickly. We certainly underestimate it.

3. Entrepreneurship by associating with friends, just because they are

Yes, this was another mistake we made. We thought that the best possible partner would be another friend because she was someone we absolutely trusted, but like us, she was a full-time employee and also was not a chef or a connoisseur of the restaurant industry. He liked cooking more than we did, but he saw it more as a hobby than a profession. The right thing to do, knowing that neither I nor my husband knew about the restaurant business nor were we really chefs, it would have been better to partner with a person who was passionate about cooking and also had a background and expertise in the area.

4. Undertaking without a long-term vision

Undertaking is a task that will require so much of you, so much energy, so much effort, money and time, that for me it is vital to do it in something that you see as a future, that you have a long-term vision for that business. It does not mean that you are going to keep this one forever, because you might think about selling it in the future.

You should think of this as something that you want to last, to be sustainable over time. How do you see it in three, five or 10 years? In what stages do you see your business in those lapses? What is the mission of your business? His objectives? Your ideal clients? What role or objective will it fulfill in your market? These are all questions we must ask ourselves.

5. Undertaking without time to do it

When I made the decision to open my own business, I was a full-time employee and had a deep-rooted concept that work is from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon. At that moment I was dedicating all my energy and time to my job, and after leaving the office I did not want to dedicate it to the business, I wanted to do other things, rest, watch TV, maybe take a course, read, etc.

The truth is that before I was a mom, today I think that I had so much time and I didn’t know how to appreciate it enough. But the point is that, being a business as demanding as a restaurant, my experience is that, if you want to undertake in this area, unless you are only a capital partner, you have to be aware that you will have to dedicate a large part of your time to business.

And here is the mistake of undertaking something that is not your passion, because when you start something that is related to something you truly love, the risk is that you can become a workaholic . You’re going to want to spend more and more time on this.

So, if right now you are thinking of starting a business, still being a full-time employee, in a business such as a restaurant, my recommendation is that you partner with someone who has the availability to dedicate himself full time to the business, who loves cooking, is a chef, for example, and love the food industry.

There are other endeavors that you may be able to do along with your job, but you have to be clear that it will be necessary for you to invest a large part of your time away from the office, nights or weekends.

6. Undertaking with fear of investing

This is closely related to the employee mentality, the high value we place on safety and not taking risks. That is why when we decide to create a business from this mentality, it is very difficult to move forward. It is clear that all the investments we make have to be planned and well thought out, but not from fear. Rather, it is about taking safe steps in order to move in the direction we want.

Taking one step at a time. We cannot think that I am going to invest the minimum, because what happens if everything goes wrong? I don’t want to lose it all! If you find yourself thinking this way, you better not actually start. Most likely, you will lose all your money.

I have a very dear friend, the husband of one of my best childhood friends, who actually owns a beautiful artisan Italian food restaurant in America. He recently completed 10 years of having started with this dream in the garage of his house.

The first time I visited your business, I was struck by the fact that you had a check for $ 50 or $ 60 framed on the wall of your office. When I asked him what it was about, he said: “It was the first check I received from a customer for my money.” Who who is not absolutely certain that he is in the right direction and is committed to making his business a real success frames his first check?

So, if you are afraid to invest in your business, remember the phrase of the Dalai Lama:

 “Keep in mind that great love and great achievements require great risks.”

I hope that this information is of value to you and that having revealed with you these mistakes that I made when I took the step from employee to entrepreneur, encourage you to take safer and more accurate steps in the construction of your enterprise.

© YVR Consulting Pty Ltd 2024