Top tips for finding your path as an entrepreneur at any age.

It’s no surprise that the struggle to find full time work with a good income is becoming increasingly challenging. The report The Dimensions of Insecure Work: A Factbook, published by the Centre for Future Work, shows that the majority of us rely on other forms of work, if we have work at all.

“The traditional employment relationship, based on permanent, full-time work with normal entitlements (such as paid leave and superannuation), has been chipped away on many sides. Today, for the first time in recorded statistics, less than half of employed Australians work in a permanent full-time paid job with leave entitlements.”

Jane Anderson

Jane Anderson

Mothers, young people and others with multiple obstacles to gaining full-time employment, such as those with chronic health issues and older adults, are now looking for different ways to earn a living.

As a result, many more of us are becoming self-employed. Of course, there are also many who want to run a business for its own sake but not all have had the courage to step outside their comfort zone and give it a go, yet.

The good news is that most of us do have the ability to stand up and find our own way as successful entrepreneurs. The key is believing in yourself, getting the right support network and actively learning the right skills.

In her podcast interview on The Mentor List, leadership and communications expert, Jane Anderson, discussed how people come to her to ask how they can replace their current income and become an entrepreneur.

“10 years ago, I used to do a lot of career development, when people would come to me saying they would like to start their own business, I used to say ‘Go do 10 years in an organisation and cut your teeth there. Get good mentors. Learn. Work hard. Make mistakes and then go out on your own. Now … the likelihood of getting that 10 years of experience in a job is quite low, so you have to be proactive and have self-discipline and self-leadership to go out and find where you can learn all those skills. You don’t get handed these things on a silver platter anymore.”

Taking it to the next level

There are many entrepreneurs out there (especially women) who are already doing great things but are struggling to make their business viable. Anderson pointed out that, currently, only around 1% of female experts or thought leaders have a business that generates around $1m revenue. Those that do are the ones that understand that’s what they need to do to get the income they want.

Anderson teaches her self-employed clients that they actually need to have a business revenue around four times that amount as they would earn equivalent paid employment to cover taxes and business expenses and investments. To achieve this, all entrepreneurs need to step up their game and really put themselves out there.

One of the biggest obstacles holding people back from becoming successful entrepreneurs is themselves. Many of us are guilty of self-sabotage because we feel like imposters who don’t really know what we are doing. We also compare ourselves unfairly to others and we let fear get in the way of our potential.

Forget tall poppy syndrome

As a nation, we have a culture of not promoting ourselves as a tall poppy and we are suspicious of others who appear to be drawing attention to themselves. Yet, as a solo entrepreneur, if you don’t promote yourself, no one else will.

In her article Put yourself out there for Business in Heels, previous Mentor List guest, Sonia McDonald discussed the challenges of tall poppy syndrome:

“This silly and REAL syndrome where we try and pull people down. We don’t particularly like people who put themselves out there or we try and pull them down. Does this syndrome stop many of us shining or standing tall? What concerns me is how we are leading the way for our future and emerging leaders? Don’t we also want them to shine and speak up? This syndrome is real.

I say bring it on and my advice is to ignore it; big time. It really says more about them than it does about you. Stand tall, own it and put yourself out there … you only live once. The world is filled with opportunities. So why wouldn’t you put yourself out there?”

Both Anderson and McDonald stress that entrepreneurs really need to learn to own their expertise. No matter what age you are, you can share your unique perspectives and help others. Your ideas count.

Put the right people around you

Without a large organisation around you, it’s up to you to assemble your own expert support team and mentors. Anderson emphasised the importance of seeking out people who understand what you are trying to do.

“Somebody has done what you are trying to do, just go find them. And, you’ll probably have to pay them, but it will save you so much time.”

Look for entrepreneurial training as early as possible, especially if you lack a lot of work experience. Go out and get the expertise you need as it is out there and available in many forms. For example, look at the organisations and people you’d like to work with. Don’t go straight out asking for what you need, offer them your help first. Pick people you would like as mentors and offer to help them at no charge. What can you do for them? Do you have a skill that they need? Can you volunteer with them?

So, if you find yourself considering self-employment for whatever reason, or you want to lift your business to a whole new level, bring your focus back to all the positive attributes that make you unique. Make a note of these and reflect on them regularly. Then surround yourself with people who inspire you and who have the know-how to guide you along your journey. You’ve got this!

Further reading

Where are all the female bosses?

Why wait for opportunities when you can create them?

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Jane Anderson is a leadership and communications expert with over 20 years’ experience in the field. In this time she has worked with over 50,000 people on building more trust and influence in their businesses and brands. She is the host of the podcast “The Jane Anderson Brand You Show”, has one of the top 10 branding blogs in Australia, is the author of five books and has been nominated three times for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards. In other words, she is a very successful entrepreneur.

You can hear many more of Anderson’s tips for communicating and promoting your ideas to the world in her podcast interview on The Mentor List. It might just be the kick-start you need.

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List.

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