You don’t have to take a test to run your own business. That’s demonstrates how little damage you can do. Just like having a baby. There’s no test to do that either, though perhaps there should be.
You have to take a test to do almost anything else in this world; drive a car, leave school, go to university, become a hairdresser or an accountant or a massage therapist.
But you don’t have to pass any tests to run your own business, however much regulation and nanny state interference there is once you do join the ranks of the self-employed.
So this is a good thing. Hurrah! This means it’s easy. Millions and millions of people can do it. We can all do it. You can do it.
Of course, these days, it doesn’t feel easy. We are beset by self-doubt and it feels to you like there’s loads to learn, how will you ever manage?
There are some things to learn. Not many. It is made to look more complex than it is. There are some things we are born not knowing but we acquire them as we go along. The rest is common sense.
It reminds me a bit of when my father died in 1992. We had no idea what to do, so the three of us – my mother, my brother and me – we just followed our own common sense, found out as we went along and made decisions and changed our minds guided by our emotions and what felt right to us at the time. That’s a right old baptism of fire, your first death. No manual or tests for that either, but you work it out – a bit like the baby thing again.
It means that when my mother died in 2005, we were -relatively speaking – a well-oiled machine even though my brother couldn’t remember what he’d learned from the first bereavement. He’d blanked it. But I could remember and that’s how it is with business. You learn the first time, you feel a bit chuffed with yourself (the death metaphor doesn’t follow here, you never feel chuffed about that) and you build on your learning.
Confidence is important, it may even be paramount. Trusting yourself and your instincts. You already know how to learn, that’s what school’s for, believe it or not. Learning how to learn. Once you know how to learn, you can apply it to anything. So you learn how to set up a business, you choose between being a sole trader or a limited company, get advice on that point if you need it, or ask me. Then you have your answer and you will know how to do that next time without advice.
Marketing is important. That’s perhaps the biggest thing. Are you creating something your market wants? If so, do they know about it? How are you going to let them know your business exists? How are you going to be visible? So many routes to market, so many frogs to kiss until we know which ones, for us, will turn into princes. There’s no shortcut here. Try as many marketing options as you can bear. Measure what works. Do lots more of that one. See? Simple, I told you.
I have been in business for forty years. I don’t worry about a lot of the things that people worry about these days. I have never studied anything legal. Don’t need to know that, just hire a lawyer if and when it ever arises. Mostly it doesn’t arise. You pick up stuff from other people (a bit like sex) and you dabble a bit (again, like sex) and you get more proficient over the years (yup, practice makes better if not perfect).
Have a go. Get it wrong. Have another go. Get it right. You are not supposed to be able to do it all yourself but there isn’t masses and masses to learn. After you’ve been doing it awhile it all feels easier and what feels easier becomes so. Breathe. You can do this.
Running your own business is easy. Believe it. If it was dangerous or risky, they’d make you take a test. They don’t. Draw your own conclusions.