The very idea of leaving the cube behind to become full-time entrepreneur can be exciting. But the grass is always greener on the other side, and while entrepreneurship has its benefits, there many things fledgling entrepreneurs should consider before deciding to go it alone. If the lure of “firing your boss” is calling you, here are 10 things to ponder before you make the leap to full-time entrepreneurship.
1. You’re the man, or not. If you want to become an entrepreneur because you don’t want to work for “the man” anymore, consider that working for yourself might mean working for a meaner boss. Also, when you take on clients and customers you end up working for more than one person instead of just for yourself.
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2. Understand your options. If you’re going to become a solo-preneur and go it alone, there are essentially three different types of businesses you need to be aware of, and any business can be a combination of these. You can either provide a done-for-you service, a consulting service, or a product.
3. Start with a service business. Until you build up enough of a customer base, you will likely be providing high-end services. This is a good place to be because you are fine tuning your knowledge and skills to be able to package them up into more scalable product offerings down the line. You’ll want to jump into full-time entrepreneurship before you get to the product phase.
4. Plan to save money. As you look at the best time to leave your job, put together an estimate of how much money you need to bring in on a monthly basis to sustain your lifestyle. If it doesn’t seam feasible, look for ways to scale back on your spending. Start saving now so that you have a nest egg when you do leave your job, because it always takes longer to become profitable than you might think.
5. Surround yourself with other like-minded business owners. It’s easy to stay in a job that isn’t serving you if all of your friends are doing the same thing. Instead, find yourself a group of accountability buddies who are in a similar situation to you, or a few steps ahead, so they can give you guidance as you navigate this new path in your career.
6. Be willing to pivot. As human beings we think we’ve got all the answers figured out. When it comes to business though, you need to be flexible and listen to the market and response. If you’re working your tail off trying to sell a product or service and it’s not giving you the returns you’re looking for, consider what your audience and market is spending money on. It’s possible that what you’re offering just isn’t a good fit.
7. The state of the economy is not a justification for or against entrepreneurship. If you want to start a business, there will never be a more perfect time than when you’re ready. Starting a business is the most powerful force for personal development I’ve ever experienced, so get ready for the ride of a lifetime and don’t make excuses if you put it off.
8. Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can before, during, and after you start your business. It’s not necessary to go back to school or to spend years researching your idea and market. However, it is necessary to read books about business, your business industry, and marketing. It’s your job as the business owner to stay informed and to keep an open mind to new ideas and tools, because the business landscape is constantly changing.
9. Start on the side. The best way to know if you can make it as a business owner and if your ideas are viable is to start your business on the side. Check with your boss and company policies before going ahead with the side business, and then hang your shingle up. Watch what happens, how you feel, and who responds to your offers.
10. Get ready for growth. Once things start to take off for you, you’ll need to make a choice as to whether you want to keep your business on the side or make the leap to full time. Sometimes you need to leap before the income is there, simply because you can’t take on more work than you can manage. Other times, you’ll know you need to quit your job when your business becomes more profitable and motivating.
Nathalie Lussier got her bachelor’s degree in software engineering then promptly turned down a “stable” job on Wall Street to start her own online business. She’s an online business triple threat who teaches people how to get “techy” with their business as a digital consultant. She is a member of The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.