Going on your own? — Remember the Tale and Pay It Forward

I recently celebrated the Fisher Law Office’s 10th anniversary. For me, it was one of those “Gee, we are still here; the lights are still on, the doors are still open. We must be doing something right” moments.

A lot of writers have written about the act of starting and owning your own business. Author Norman Vincent Peale is often quoted with this one, “Those who are fired with an enthusiastic idea and who allow it to take hold and dominate their thoughts find that new worlds open for them.” A lot of people help along the way as well. So many that you aren’t able to repay them or even thank them. The best thing to do is pay it forward.

There are countless reasons to start your own business. You may think this is your chance to live the American Dream; you may be tired of working for someone else; you may have no other options. these motivations create entrepreneurship and success. But owning any business takes work and lots of it.

In my own story, it was crossing to the other side out of necessity. The business I worked for ran into financial difficulties and out of a survival mode, started letting people go. I was one of them. To make matters worse the economy was shifting nationally throwing a lot of “Me’s” in to the employment market along with the steady stream of young 20-year old’s coming out of college.

Don’t Hurt Yourself Diving Into the Pool
All business owners have a story. Some ran away from a terrible boss. Others were looking for a new spark in life on the long road to self-employment. But what successful business owners have in common is a motivation to succeed.

I am often reminded of my explaining my choices to fellow Texas Tech Law School alum Wade Shelton that I viewed it as crossing a river. Wade told me how courageous he thought it was that I went out on my own leaving the corporate world behind (he was just being supportive — he has been out on his own as managing partner of his own firm since a couple of years after law school). My comeback was simple, “if the forest is on fire behind you (the world of competing with young 20-year old’s) and now the bridge is burning (the unemployment checks are running out) it’s not hard to get motivated to get across to the other side, even if you don’t know what’s there.” As I said, we all have our starting points.

According to the Small Business Association, (“SBA”) the most important thing to know is where to start, and why you’re starting there. A common setback the SBA reports is that aspiring business owners sometimes go into business for all the wrong reasons. “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence,” the SBA said in order to illustrate the difference in mindsets between running away from a bad situation and running towards a better one.

Starting a business as a “plan B” usually shows those at the helm are less committed than those who decide to go into business with all they have. And that kind of commitment, the SBA said, trickles on down from management all the way through and staff and onto the customers.

In my own case, my mentor’s one warning to me when I opened the firm’s doors was this. “I only ask that if you do this, you be committed to jump off the high dive. I guarantee you there is water in the pool. But if you are still looking for work from someone else you are leaving one foot on the board. All you are going to do is hurt yourself.” I’ve never been one who could dive that well. That image stuck from day one.

Know What Motivates You; Use It
If you have a good grip on your identity and what you have to offer, you will have a much easier time delivering. The prize here should not be income. Instead, it should be the whole package. The income will follow.

Inc.com said that money, as appealing as it might be, is not as gratifying as many might think. The true gratification comes from believing what you are doing and doing it with your all.

So while finances might be the barebones motivation behind being your own boss, the end goal should be to reach financial stability so that work feels more like play. And the best way to get there, Inc.com said, is to stick with what motivates you.

Fear of Failure
Being your own boss is a sexy phrase. Nobody would scoff if you told them you were quitting to start an online business. So why doesn’t everyone do that?

Fear.

We all have to fight through an inherent urge for turning business ideas into financial independence that becomes dampened by a perceived sobering reality that forces us to give up. Have you ever seen the financial planner commercial where the young boy keeps asking his father “why not” on a series of questions about how is father is treated by the financial planner. The more the boy asks, the more concerned the father becomes. The father never says the fateful words “I don’t know.” He has the look of being frozen. Fear of “is he doing the right thing?”

Our fear is what stops us. I know that fear. Every business owner knows it. I never started my business until I had to. But when I had to start it, the fear of starting became replaced by the fear of failure. Most of the time, that fear is a docile beast. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. But when it does, I sometimes do my best work the next day. Remember, it’s not about luck and it’s not about favors. I remind Wade when I get the chance to see him it’s about being too stubborn to fail.

Learn From Those Who Do What You Want To Do
When I knew I wanted to start, my first step was to ask for a meeting with someone who does what I do. My friend, Charles S. Walsh, of Annapolis, introduced me to his law school roommate, Martin Snider, a solo practitioner in Annapolis. He is the one that taught me about the diving board. He also sent me on a trail to meet others I needed to meet. Sometimes I hit gold and gained multiple introductions to others that could help. Sometimes I had an interesting meeting or a stark rejection. But I never wasted my time.

And as unappealing as it might sound, the additional suggestion I make is do not be afraid to subject yourself to the other side—the side you are trying to avoid. Re-examine the past. Visit the past. You may scare yourself into avoiding the exact same life you set out to avoid at all costs.

Keep It Simple
The steps to owning and starting a successful business are simple, as long as you keep your motivation at the forefront. But that message can very easily become diluted and lost over time. Keep your heart and your brain running towards the same goals and do what drives you. It is difficult to fail when you believe in what you are doing and do it carefully, but not too careful so as to avoid the occasional risk.

And if you need help, there are a lot of great lawyers that can help you with these decisions. If you live near us, give us a call. We would love a chance to work with you. If you don’t live near us, give us a call anyway and we will route you to some very good people.

Until then, good luck and good hunting.

Randy

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The Fisher Law Office is known for its experience in estate planning, probate administration, asset protection, and business development. Annapolis attorney Randall D. Fisher has practiced for over 20 years, maintains the highest peer review rating for ethics (AV Preeminent) by Martindale-Hubbell, and is a sucker for long walks on the fairways.

Find out how to reach Randy via TheFisherLawOffice.com or find him at Facebook.com/FisherLawOffice, on Twitter @thefisherlawoffice, or at LinkedIn.com/in/FisherLawOffice.

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