What this Former Microsoft Director Learned When He Left to Start His Own Business


Starting your own business is a long and tough process. It takes a strong belief in your business idea and dedication to follow through. But there’s always the risk that your business might not make it. On top of that, the money is not consistent, the hours are extremely long and you have to build everything from scratch.

Don’t worry, there are a ton of positives to creating and running your own business. Firstly, you get to control your own destiny. An entrepreneur can set their own goals and solutions. They decide who they want to work with, the environment they want to work in, even what tasks you want to delegate to employees. As an entrepreneur, you run the show.

Starting your own business can be intimidating, rewarding and difficult all at the same time. To help, we reached out to a former Director of Marketing at Microsoft, Ravi Raman for some advice about starting your own business. Raman left his position at Microsoft to pursue his own company as an executive career coach.

“If you build it, they might not come”

At the start of his own business, Raman assumed that with his big professional network would field a bunch of potential new customers. But at first, no one wanted to. Raman realized that many people did not understand what “coaching” meant. He highlights the importance of marketing and how a lack of marketing can really hurt your growth.

“Expect it to take 3-5X as long as you think”

Raman stresses the importance of understanding the timeline of your business. It will not be successful from day one. He also emphasizes to make sure you save enough money for a smooth first few months of your business. It took him 18 months to reach a point where he was able to cover his family expenses. It might take you even longer but that shouldn’t discourage you from trying.

“Mindset is everything”

Around six months in, Raman’s business began to stall. Raman explains that while he was a great coach, he wasn’t confident in the sales and marketing of his service. He says, “I had some serious mental blocks limiting beliefs.” Raman later realized that while he was great at marketing other products and services, but when it came to his own business, he was lost. A friend coached Raman to have a healthy mindset for his business and having confidence in his goals. This ended up making all the difference.

“Don’t let your dreams crush your goals”

Dreaming can be a trap for many new entrepreneurs. You will make faster progress focusing on short term tactics rather than long term plans. It's ok to have big ambitions for your business. But it’s daily actions that will help teach you which of your strategies is working and where your business could use help.

“Let the market teach you”

Things do not always go to plan. Raman learned that even the plan for his business was constantly changing. One of his first customers did not fit his ideal target market but he took on the client anyways. He realized that everyone he would coach is not a cookie cutter copy of his ideal market. Sometimes you have to adapt and analyze based on what the market is telling you.

“Leverage your talent stack”

Let’s be honest. You aren’t the best in the world at one particular skill. But when you combine your best talent with 2 other skills, you have already created a specific segment that you are outstanding at compared to others. Combine and use your best talents and strengths as a way to help drive your business forward.

When starting your own business, it’s important to remember that there will be many roadblocks along the path. You won’t always be able to follow your plan exactly how it is written but following this advice will make the transition to entrepreneurship a smooth one.

About Ravi

Ravi Raman is the founder of Raman Coaching. He currently serves as an executive coach for high achievers specifically in the tech industry. He previously served as a Director of Marketing at Microsoft before leaving to pursue his own entrepreneurial interests. You can find more about Ravi on his website or follow him on Twitter @YogiRavi

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