Before I became an “official” entrepreneur, I was just an entrepreneur at heart, working one of those 9-to-5 marketing jobs. However, I had dreams and aspirations of leaving the cubicle life for something of my own making. I had great business ideas, some of which I started to pursue on the side. One of these was my blog, but I was also dabbling in other interests, like online advertising and web hosting.
As these side businesses began to interest me more than my day job, which I started dreading going to, I knew it was time to start considering how I could make them my full-time focus. Here are the steps I took to make these visions a reality, and how you can do the same:
Re-Evaluate Your Finances and Spending Habits
Because I was rapidly climbing the career ladder in my job despite my lack of enthusiasm, my salary was at its highest point in my life. It was exciting to get that much money, and so my first thought was to spend it. I bought myself a great car that cost a lot.
In order to stay on my feet when I wasn’t sure whether or not there would be steady income coming in, I had to make the tough decision to sell my BMW and go with a secondhand car that would get me from Point A to Point B. In looking at my other finance and spending habits, I found other places to trim back areas in which I was spending more.
Getting your finances in order is one of the most important things to do before making the switch from day job to round-the-clock entrepreneur. Clear out any debts, work on your credit score, and create savings and emergency funds.
Create a Strategic Road Map and Business Plan
While I had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish and it seemed to be working on a part-time basis, I quickly learned that I needed to formalize the process if I was going to make it my full-time business. Sure, I read about the importance of making a business plan. It was ingrained in me in college, and I read about its value in books. However, the thought of sitting down and actually writing it all out with monthly and yearly goals, the strategies to get there, and the amount of resources necessary to achieve them seemed completely overwhelming.
Now that I look back on it, I’m glad I forced myself to do it. My mentor also pushed me until I had actually created the roadmap and plan. Having something to look and stay accountable for kept me heading in the right direction, and gave me the purpose to follow it each day.
Get the Support and Buy-In From Others Impacted by Your Decision
Although I made the decision to transition into an entrepreneur while living with roommates and was not married at the time, I did approach my parents and ask for their opinion and support. It was important to get their buy-in because it was such a life-changing decision. While my parents did stand behind me, they voiced their worry and concern about moving from something steady and safe to the complete unknown.
If you have a spouse and/or children to consider, it is important that you make sure they are comfortable with your decision, as it will impact them in ways that go beyond just the financial risk. I worked tirelessly, without any days off, and during odd hours that would not have necessarily synced with the obligations and expectations that a family brings. Make sure they are on board with your go-forward plan. With their support, you are more likely to be more successful during this transitional period.
Ensure Business Relevancy and Sustainability
I enjoyed working on my side businesses and felt passionate about them, but that doesn’t mean that everyone would continue to share my enthusiasm into the future. At best, I was just hoping to make it a few years before cashing out and starting something different. Looking back, I realize the value of doing considerable research into making sure you can create something that will remain relevant to your target audience and generate a continuous flow of income.
For example, if I were able to solve my audience’s problem, then why would they come back to me again? I had to make sure that my side business continually offered value if it was going to become a viable full-time startup. Study your business idea to see if it has the legs to go the distance for years into the future. Does it have the potential to evolve into a larger solution?
Make a List of Pros and Cons
Lastly, it helped me to actually write down the advantages of working for myself rather than keeping the traditional job. This is a personal preference. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other end, and it’s likely that your journey will not go according to plan. Determine what is most important to you, and let that guide you toward the right career decision.