Are you cut out to be your own boss?
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I know I asked myself this question a thousand times before I pulled the trigger on my own thing…it’s really scary thinking about starting your own business! Exciting for sure, but the unknown can be nerve-wracking. There are a million things that go through your mind when you’re considering being your own boss so today I’m gonna break it down for you: we are chatting 5 essential steps to go through to determine if you are ready to be your own boss. Let’s dig in!
Step #1 – You need a clear “WHY”.
I really think there are multiple “Why’s” here. Usually first and foremost there is some sort of trigger that makes you say “I’m DONE, I’m ready to do my own thing”.
Maybe you’re sick of being on call, maybe you’re ready to be done with all of the back end red tape and craziness you can get sucked into with a hospital job for example, or maybe you see how much work you’re putting in and realize if you put that much work into your own thing you could be make a LOT more money for yourself! So “Why” #1 is usually “what could being my own boss do for ME and my family?”
Then, the second “why” usually comes along. This “why” should ALWAYS be “how can my business serve others”. To be honest, this should be the first why but usually when you’re looking to start your own business, it’s because of a trigger. I know this from personal experience - I got the BEST job straight out of college making great money. I loved my boss. I loved my co-workers. If my husband hadn’t gotten transferred out of state, I am 100% confident we would have never started our business. It's really odd thinking about how some life choices just completely alter your path, isn't it?
We’d always talked about starting something, I think we both just have that entrepreneurial spirit, but I think it would have been a side gig. For example, my hubby LOVES to flip houses and he usually flips a couple a year as a side project. I think we would have definitely done things like that. But, we never would have gone all in like we did, had I been happy in my new job. I mentioned this before, and although I’m not proud to admit it, I used to eat lunch in my car teary eyed because I didn’t want to go back in for the afternoon! So that was my “trigger” as I call it and a lot of sonographers I talk to say the same thing – they’re sick of “something” to a certain degree, and they’re ready to make a change.
So, again our next “why” needs to be how we can serve others. What can you do in your own business to take care of the wonderful people of your community? Going in business simply to make money isn’t the way you should be crafting your “why”. Of course you have to think about revenue, and that is a major part of being in business but if you first consider how you can serve others and you do that well, the money will come.
For us in our own mobile ultrasound business, we feel like we’re doing our part to make healthcare as affordable as possible. We know we provide an exceptional service for patients with the type of care we provide in terms of compassion and quality. We know we provide an exceptional service for the physician offices we work with in the fact that we can help them bring revenue into their practice (because we all know medicine is a BUSINESS and docs have to make money to be able to continue to treat us!). We can help them provide their patients a convenient and seamless option to imaging right in their office, so it helps the doctor provide more services there for his patients and allows him more control over the imaging process.
So, crafting your business around what you can do to serve others is the absolute best way to start, and I think you’ll see it will be the way you end up being the most productive and profitable.
Then once you’re in your business and chugging along, you need that “why” to keep going. You'll always still have the determination to serve others, but I think your why turns into something even bigger than that. For me, my why is my son. I want him to see his mom being the best mommy she can be, all while helping others in our businesses in a multitude of ways. I want him to see me pushing through problems that arise and hustling hard when I need to, but also playing hard and keeping my priorities straight, too. :) When times get tough, that’s when those negative thoughts start creeping in, and that’s when fear can get the best of you. Especially when you first start, but that can happy any time during your business. We are 16 years in at this point, and with everything going on with the coronavirus pandemic right now, it’s really hard not to be frightened about the unknown! There is a lot we don’t have control over right now, but instead of letting fear guide us, we are digging in to what we can control. I have employees to think of, my family to think of, our students and clients to think of - I have a lot of people looking to me for guidance so me putting my head in the sand is NOT an option.
I also need to just take a sec to talk about how amazing our students and clients are. I have seen them push through and keep chugging along so much during this last week and I am SO proud of each and every one of them. I know when we listen to this podcast a year from now (hopefully all of this will just be a distant memory by then!!) but we are all in the thick of it right now and it’s just really a crazy time. I was just chatting with a student yesterday – she just got her logo drafts and was asking my opinion – she’s so excited to pick one and move on to getting the rest of her marketing materials, because even though things are crazy right now and we are in uncharted territory, this like everything else in life, will pass. And as business owners, we need to stay focused, so we come out on the other side ready to rock and roll.
I have to say as well that I appreciate each and every one of you because YOU are the ones out on the front lines of all this, taking care of our communities.
Step #2: Be "all in".
Now, by “all in”, I don’t mean quit your job and plunge right into business ownership (if you need more info on how to do this as a side hustle, go listen to episode 3!) What I mean here is no matter what happens, good or bad – you keep an “all in” mindset. Your conversations with yourself need to shift from “this is awful, I can’t believe this roadblock happened” to “Ok, this is awful, but let’s figure out a plan to overcome it”.
I’m obsessed with Marie Forleo right now, I’m actually taking one of her business courses myself, and her mantra is “everything is figureoutable”. I love that! It’s so true. One way or another, you can come up with a solution to whatever problem is thrown your way. That solution isn’t always perfect and it doesn’t mean that everything works out perfectly, but it does mean you’ve got this! If you shift that thought process to “yes, I CAN figure this out and I will put forth effort to do so”, you’ll be in a much better place than if you’re reaction is one of “well, this is awful, and there’s nothing I can really do about it”. Those are the people, my friends, that do not succeed. So, having that “all in” mindset is CRUCIAL – thinking I’ve got this, I’m all in, this business is my baby and I’m going to care for it like I would a newborn child – this will serve you so well.
Step # 3: Go with your gut.
Ahhh intuition. It’s really important to have a plan laid out for your business – we talked about that in last week’s podcast episode, but even having a literal step by step plan like our students do, does not mean that you’re not going to shift and mold along the way! There are going to be a million times you’ll need to look at situations individually and make decisions on what the next best move is. That’s where going with your gut comes into play. Paying attention to your business trends (or market trends if you’re just starting out) are going to be really important.
For example, I really saw the trend of our community – and by community I mean YOU, the ultrasound techs that we aim to serve whether that is with our totally free content or those of you who hop on board as students. You are our community and one that we want to breathe life into. I saw a trend of people wanting more of me personally. Not “Jennifer” the business owner behind the company, but me as a person. And I think that’s the culture of today!!
If I think about who I trust getting information from, who I want to hear from, who I get excited to hear from when I see their name pop up in my email (because I know they’re not trying to sell me a bunch of stuff or spam me, they truly want to serve their community whether they’re a “paid” client or not), it’s people that are obviously experts in their field but it’s also people who are relatable most of all!
I'm definitely more apt to trust and want to hear from someone who is an expert in their field but they're also telling me how they got there: how tough it was for them, how they navigate things now, that they’re a mom or a dad, or have battled illness or loss along the way. Whatever it may be that’s helped them get to where they are - those are the people that I want to hear more from. So, I saw this shift and even though it was scary changing from a more “corporate” look and feel with our business to a bit more intimate feel where you guys are hearing from me personally more, I’m trying (as much as I can) to post a bit more about my life outside of work – that was a really hard transition. Especially because everything was working just fine before! But we started seeing this shift of what people really were liking and what they wanted, and I really had to go with my gut and the response has really been incredible! I feel like now when I hop on a call with someone who’s interested in more information on what we do or wants to learn more about our courses, we can chat like we know each other a bit- because they actually do know me a bit! It’s been really fun. Scary at first and I’ll be honest – still a little scary!
So, the moral of the story with this step – have a plan, but be prepared to go with your gut and intuition to mold and make that plan work as best it can for you and your business along the way.
Step #4: Have a good support system.
This is so important. It’s very odd, you’ll find out a lot about your friends and family when you tell them you’re going into business for yourself. I can't tell you how many people told me I was crazy, too young, that we'd never be successful - the list goes on.
I’ve talked with so many other business owners and this happens regularly, so be prepared for negativity. I’ve said this before – people like the people they know to be on the same level as them. So, if you start climbing this invisible ladder outside the “norm” in your friend group or family, it’s going to take some getting used to. Some will be very supportive, others will call you crazy. All this to say, you will find out who actually supports you and your dreams and those are the people you talk to about your business. Those are the people you reach out to when you’re going through a tough time, because they’re going be the people to lift you up! Business ownership is hard, so find your "tribe" and hold on to them tight. They’ll be the people 10 years from now that are saying “I told you that you could do this, look where you are now!!
Step #5: Recognizing and reshaping mindset blocks.
It is really hard to switch your thoughts and mindset from an employee mindset to the BOSS. This goes for everything from realizing you’re the one to do it all, to getting sidetracked from negative mindset blocks that will hinder your growth. I know everyone is always preaching “mindset”, but I am here to tell you it is one of the most important things you need to conquer. There is nothing worse than having all the tools and opportunities, but not believing in yourself. I did an entire blog post on this, but I think it’s so important I want to recap 5 mindset shift you have GOT to make.
Mindset Shift #1: Yes, I CAN.
As corny as this sounds, having a mantra (or a few!) that you repeat to yourself on a regular basis can help SO much with our mindset. Think back to something that was a bit scary, a bit out of your comfort zone - did you do it? If you didn't likely fear of failure or not doing well is what held you back. Overcoming those inner and outer dialogues is so very important.
When we first started our business over 16 years ago, you can imagine we discussed our idea with friends and family as we were putting it together - we were excited!! As I said a minute ago - if I had a dollar for everyone who told me either I was crazy, too young, too inexperienced, or questioned whether it would be successful or not, I could have retired right then. :) Those "what if I fail" thoughts crept in my head often - they're natural. But it's what you do with those thoughts is what is most important. You should definitely make sure you're prepared, have a plan, know as much about the process as possible but until you shift your mindset to a "can" as opposed to "can't" attitude, you're never going to have that excitement create the action required to actually get out there and start.
Mindset Shift #2: Work Ethic.
Shifting that mindset from an "employee" to a "boss" when it comes to work ethic is absolutely crucial. When you first start your business, you're going to wear a lot of hats - from ultrasound tech to supplies purchaser, marketing rep - you’re also the janitor my friends, so...if YOU don't do it, it's not going to get done. I think this is one of the things people forget about when it comes to being a business owner. I tell our students all the time - we have the processes, step by step how-to's, the paperwork, the legal agreements, the marketing tools...but the one thing we can't give you is the work ethic to put it all in place. That's all you!
Mindset Shift #3: Done is better than perfect.
I personally am so guilty of this and its one of the things I really have to pay attention to in my own business. I am a perfectionist, so I will meddle in something for much longer than I should to make it "perfect" in my eyes, instead of realizing it is absolutely great....perhaps not perfect, but great. And when you sit and wait on things to be "perfect", you'll miss out on so much time you could be building your business. This goes from marketing materials to doing something in your business that you perhaps don't think you're very good at.
For example, marketing can be nerve wracking when you're not a seasoned sales rep, and even though our students have all they need to know exactly what to say, how to say it, and the marketing materials to back it up, they can get nervous when that's not their area of expertise! If they're too scared to get out there and be "good" not "perfect" when they first start marketing, they'll never get their business off the ground. I honestly have seen this MULTIPLE times. You have to WORK your business for it to work.
Mindset Shift #4: Surround yourself with the right people.
This is something I find hugely important and I talked about this a minute ago as Step #4. This goes from the friends and family you discuss your business with, to the professionals you'll use in assisting you along the way. If you've got a friend or family member that just can't see your vision and is always putting the idea of business ownership down, that's a person you should not be discussing your business with. Find those people ready and willing to lift you up through this exciting time! They'll help you turn off that meddling inner voice telling you that this isn't possible, and help you replace it with uplifting and positive thoughts that will help you throughout your journey.
We also need to realize that we don't know what we don't know! Looking at areas that make sense to add in some help is crucial in the startup phase. I am a big believer that spending a bit to have an expert assist you will save you a lot of money in the long run. The first few people we hired was an accountant and an attorney. One of the reasons we created our courses was so that our students didn't have to hire a lot out, they'd have it all in one place for CHEAP...we put our courses together because we wish we would have had something like this when we started!
Mindset Shift #5: Ditch the Excuses.
This is a hard one, isn't it?! We are all guilty of this, and I think bringing it to the forefront is important. We can come up with a thousand excuses as to why we don't start - not enough time, not enough money, not enough information...
I'm here to tell you, you can MAKE time for anything that you deem important enough. Sure, there will be a season of hustle. We still go through these seasons even 16 years later when we're launching a new course, rebranding a section of our business or adding a new one in altogether, or working on adding on additional clients for our mobile ultrasound group. But, if its important enough, we can all make the time.
Alright, there you have it…the 5 essentials steps to go through to figure out whether you’re cut out to be your own boss. And you know what? I’m going to venture to say for most of you out there, the answer is YES.
So, what are your next steps? Grab our free guide if you haven’t already to give you an idea of the 6 things to consider when starting a mobile ultrasound business. We love gifting you free stuff and this is a good one to have, we've linked it up for you HERE.
Until next week my friends! Stay safe and healthy,