There are varying reasons why people quit the security of a cushy job and a stable income stream for the uncertainty of a new business. A horrible and irritating boss, an unchallenging role, the lack of progression or a burning desire to change the world with your passion. Whatever your reasons for taking the crazy leap of faith into entrepreneurship, you may want to consider a few things first.
Ask Yourself Why You really want to start this business
What is the real reason you want to start your own business? If it’s just because you hate your day job, that’s probably not going to cut it. Every job has its own downsides. With your own business you might not have a direct boss to deal with, but instead you’ll be dealing with customers, employees, and investors/lenders. “You never want to start a company as a reaction to a bad situation,” says Ashish Toshniwal, Founder of Y Media Labs. “You need to have an idea you are really passionate about, or you’ll never make it through the first couple of years, which are extremely tough.”
Have you tested your idea and are you relatively sure it can succeed?
Do as much research as possible about your target audience, and then do some more. Put together a good business plan and revise it until your idea makes sense not only to you, but other experts, or family and friends. What sounds like a genius idea in your head might not make complete business sense in the real world. This is not to say that it can’t succeed, but you may need to tweak the idea a bit to make it more viable.
Speak to people in your target audience. Is this something they would gladly pay for? How much would they be willing to part with? These days, you can pretty much find out anything from the comfort of your own home through Google and other search engines. How will you market it? What will you do differently from your competitors in order to give your business competitive advantage?
Here are some questions worth asking according to start up website fundastic.com :
- Does something similar to your product or service already exist? If not, what’s the closest thing to a competitor that’s out there?
- Are people willing to pay for what you’re trying to sell (is there “market demand”)?
- How can you best position and market your business?
- How can you adapt or refine your business based on what you’ve learned?
Fortune magazine columnist Anne Fisher advices you “try out your business without quitting your day job: Build your company on the side, in your spare time, until you know for sure it can survive in the marketplace.”
Prepare Yourself Financially
Before you write that letter to your boss telling him just how much you hate your job and can’t stand it for one more minute, think about how you’re going to get by for the next couple of years while your business grows. The first few years of start ups can be very tough and money can be hard to come by. You need to ask yourself if you are well prepared for this. Take tech entrepreneur Toshniwal’s experience for example. “We lived a very frugal life,” says Toshniwal. “In fact, we took such a hit financially that we almost gave up. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.”
“If you work for someone else, you always get paid no matter how the business is doing.” Not so with a startup. Working out before hand, how exactly you will survive when money is sparse could take some of the pressure to deliver profits as soon as possible off you.
Some entrepreneurs save up enough before starting their own business, while others get by with support from family and friends and for a handful of others, the credit card takes a battering during this period. If you will be taking out any loans, make sure you do so while your account is still looking healthy. Lenders shy away from borrowing if you have no incoming funds.
Get a support network in place- you’ll be needing it
How do your family feel about you starting out on your own? If you’ve got responsibilities such as children, and a partner, this might make the decision to risk it all on your own much more difficult. Conversely, having an understanding support network of family and friends can help make the transition from a comfortable job in a workplace with a huge support network to a solopreneur much more smooth. This support network is even more vital when things don’t go according to plan and you’re tempted to run back to your office cubicle. Family and friends will be there to remind you why you are doing this and keep you grounded.
Ask yourself if you’re ready to give up a life out of work
When you start a new business, you’ve literally just given birth to a baby. You will most likely spend every single day and night working on your business, refining your idea and finding ways to make it better. It’ll be all you think about for the most part, especially in the first phase of the start up. If this is something you’re not prepared to do or you won’t be able to do e.g you may have young children you need to prioritise or family that need your immediate help and attention, then you may have to hold off on your business idea until you’re able to devote as much time to it as possible.
Even with responsibilities, proper planning and time management could go a long way to compartmentalise your life, so neither family nor your business suffers, but this is easier said than done.
Attend as many free business events as possible and network
Many entrepreneurs spend so much time buried in front of their computers, building their business that they forget to go out and network. Networking is great for your business, particularly in the initial stage and even while you’re still in your current job. You can find out what the market situation is currently, what challenges other entrepreneurs are facing and learn valuable insider tips from successful business owners in your sector.
In the first few years when funds for marketing and advertising may be limited, you’re your business’ biggest marketing asset, hence why you need to get out there and tell people about what you do. It’s a great way of meeting new clients and investors and for spreading word of mouth recommendations.
Attend business events and learn as much as possible from the tips shared by other successful business owners