Be An E

Ever wanted to be a big E or for that matter, a small e? I’m talking of course about the people out there who long to make the shift to self employment and enter the e-for-entrepreneurial stakes. In talking to a number of small e’s recently – the newly established; the part-time employee/plus have own business e’s – I’ve been struck by their enthusiasm and their determination to be successful. They’ve described their inner struggles – the uncertainties of their new direction; the seduction and comfort of the more familiar (be an employee) world; and the excitement and draw of the unknown. They’ve spoken of their sometimes difficult passage into self-employment and the support they had; the support they needed, yet didn’t get; the information they may have found helpful with the benefit of hindsight. It made me wonder what would help employees’ transition into self employment and into a small e……..

Talk to other e’s

When considering the loss of traditional workplace security and the joys of a regular wage, to speak only to those who couldn’t imagine any other reality is not helpful or encouraging. Find people who are self employed and question them about the highs and lows; their beginnings; the traps they fell into and now know how to avoid; and their tips for success.

Get professional advice

It’s always helpful to get good advice before taking the plunge. Time spent at the beginning with an accountant, lawyer or bank manager may save a great deal of time, effort, money and hassle later on. Go with a list of questions. Do all your research first, so you have a sense of what may be needed.

Know yourself

It helps to know your own personality and understand what it is you particularly like and dislike doing. Being a small or new e may require you to do all of the doing, including the bits you may not be so keen on i.e. the monthly accounts, GST, developing systems, securing new business. Know that if you’re going to be a one person band, you may well be ‘it’ for a while and will have to put the multi into skilling.

Do courses

Do some business courses if you’re not sure where to begin. If you aren’t clear on all the steps involved in taking your business from one level to the next, or, if you’re not sure how to do something in particular, make inquiries and find the courses to suit your needs.

Find a mentor

It helps to find someone to guide you. A mentor may be a business person you know or it could be a mentor through a formal scheme e.g. the Business Mentors Programme. Either way, there may be a time when you need particular advice, so know what and who may be available to you.

Get personal support

The self employment path is both exhilarating and challenging. It helps to have people in your corner to encourage and support you in your endeavours. Trusted supporters can also give reality checks and can see the wood for the trees, if at times you can’t see clearly.

Develop a plan

It’s often said that ‘if you don’t know where you’re going, then any path will do’. A lack of clear pathways can be a very labour-intensive, time consuming exercise. Time spent thinking and planning, before documenting a plan, is really useful. A plan is simply the roadmap to follow, to give much needed focus, direction and forward movement.

Have a vision and goals

Keep your vision and goals always in sight. It is easy to lose vision if you get discouraged, overworked, frustrated or convinced your progress is too slow.

Store funds

Before taking the plunge into self employment, do your sums. Ensure that you have enough personal funds both to live off and support your business for a period of time. Have some reserves of capital for those rainy days.


It’s always wise to do research before you leap into developing a business or making a purchase. Get the necessary marketing and demographic data. Talk to those in the field. Read business books and journals and don’t go past Michael Gerber’s ‘The E-Myth’.


Small e’s need a d for discipline. Discipline is needed to begin the venture; to keep on doing the doing, when the going gets really difficult; or when some of the doings are rather dull. Small e’s also need lots of energy and perseverance; the ability to learn fast; and the nerve to keep on a new path, even though it is unfamiliar and often nerve-wracking. These necessary resources can only come from within.

There’s no doubt that people going into self employment need encouragement, support and assistance. Some small e’s may stay small; some may turn into really big E’s. Some e’s may become an overnight success; or some may take some years to be so. However, both big and small e’s all have one thing in common – their journey begins with one small courageous step.



May 2003�

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