Rasheed Ogunlaru | Coach on the Coach | January 2017

Dear Rasheed,

It’s back to work after the festive break and I have realised that I really hate my job. I am desperate to start my own business.
I have a great idea – but I know I have to stay in my current role for a while longer. Until recently I have really enjoyed being in my job, I respect my colleagues and my boss, but now i just want to move on. How do I fulfil my commitments to my employer and stay sane. I know it makes no sense to just hand in my notice at this moment, but I am just itching to get away. I don’t want to let anyone down, but I am excited by my business idea and just want to get started. Help!!

Karine, Leeds


Dear Karine,

Thanks so much for your letter. The New Year following the festive break is often the time when people weigh up what they really want to do in life. The first question to consider is; are you just suffering from post-Christmas January blues or do you really want and are ready for something new?

If it’s not merely the January blues – and you’ll know this in a few weeks – then the key thing is to plan, prepare, test the ground, test your idea out and begin to consider the practicalities of being your own boss, the viability of your idea and to go about it in steady steps.

Here are my tips:

Passion and reality

Take some time to focus on your life, your skills, your talents, desires, goals – and your life circumstances. Now write down a list of all the things that are important to you in your life, in a future business/career and in terms of your relationship.

Write down what your skills, interests and passions are.

Now write down ALL your living costs: mortgage/rent, utilities, bills, food, family, travel, entertainment, etc.  This is essential,  as the moment you stop working in your 9-5 job, the regular monthly salary ends, but your living costs continue. What you’re doing here is getting absolutely clear on your life, your skills, your interests, your priorities and realities. So there’s a financial check here and also one that your idea ties in with your skills, talents and passions.

Practicalities, preparation

Having a great idea is great, but it takes passion, preparation, planning, people, persistence and productivity to make it a reality.

It’s also about testing whether people want to buy your product or service and ‘perfecting it’ over time. The bigger the dream, the more effort you’ll need to put it. So study your planned industry, learn about the market, research the rules and regulations. If you’re new to business then you’ll need to consider the operational, marketing and financial side of things. If your idea is a product, there will be research, development, testing and all sorts of logistics.

If your idea is a service there may be training, development as well as other factors to consider.  There are places like https://www.gov.uk/browse/business with information about set up, tax, business structure, finance and support. There are industry bodies and groups that can be a very good place to start and they often have rich industry expertise – as well as many members who’ve been on the journey you’ll be starting.

bipc logoThere are also invaluable resources like the British Library’s Business & Intellectual Property Centre www.bl.uk/bipc that provide free resources, information support and no cost / low cost seminars. There are also business libraries across the UK – and if you’re based elsewhere check what rules apply.

So there is developing yourself, your product or services and all the compliance,  but there’s also crucially testing if there is a market willing to pay for it – and a plan of how you will market and promote it. This is where your skills, passions and talents come in. You’ll need to play to your strengths and seek out others to help you on the areas where you are weaker. If you know people who are their own boss, chat to them about their journey. There are all sorts of business networking groups too that may be useful. You’ll also find lots of useful free tips, talks, webinars and podcasts on my site www.soul-trader.biz

There are scores of books, web resources out there – you’ll just need to be discerning and focused.

Steps, support, stages and help

So my advice would be to:
1) Get clear on your realities, skills and practicalities.
2) Understand your field, marketplace and product and business generally. This starts with research.
3) Develop a plan and identify the skills, support, resources, knowledge and finance you need.

In my experience, if you are well-organized, self-motivated, have an optimistic temperament, if you are focused and yet open-minded, if you can be flexible and you can cope with change, challenge and uncertainty then you’re likely to have what it takes.

Going back to your idea: whatever it is, it’s essential to understand and talk to your (potential) customers and understand their needs, pains, desires. Because the bottom line is that these is the key to whether they will buy it and that should inform, shape and fine-tune your product.   So the secret is being true to you and your skills, passions, talents and desires and finding where that intersects with your potential customers and the marketplace. It’s that sweet spot between you/your ideas, your customers and the marketplace and whatever the gap and need, this is where your success resides. But it will require ongoing marketing, management/operations and being mindful and wise with money.

Finally, I think a good benchmark of how serious and ready someone is, can be seen in how much they are motivated to tackle or get help with tasks that are their weaker areas. If you are still motivated. then you’re well on your way.

If we wrap this up off with looking at your current job, you’ll need to identify the pace, stages and timing that is right to either dip your toe in the water while still working, reduce your hours (if possible /desirable) and leaving it depending on your bank balance, resources, resourcefulness – utilizing what feels right to your heart and your head.

Best wishes,


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