By Bigg Success Staff
Leaving your job to start your own business ranks right up there with life’s major decisions. It’s risky. You’re choosing personal freedom over the security a job provides. Or are you?
The advantage to planning your exit may be that YOU get to choose the timing. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses after a layoff. Ideally, you get to make the decision on your own terms, at your own time.
However, there’s never an ideal time to start your own business. Much like getting married or having kids, if you wait for exactly the right time, you’ll never do it!
You can always get another job, but you only get one life. So here are the ten signs that you’re ready to quit your job and start your own business.
#10 – There are no significant benefits to waiting … even a little bit.
If you’re only a couple of years from retirement, you may be better off waiting so you’ll have a steady income stream to launch your new venture. You won’t feel the same pressure that you will feel when you leave without that cushion.
Another reason to stay, at least for awhile, is that you’re almost vested in your retirement plan. Why not wait until you can get the full benefit of all of your company’s contributions? Use the time to get prepared for your new business.
Finally, when you go out on your own, health insurance will be solely your problem. How’s your health? Can you get insurance through your spouse? Unfortunately, this is a significant consideration in starting your own business.
#9 – You are prepared for the demands of owning your own business.
There’s a myth that owning and managing your own business is easy. It’s definitely not. You need to be ready – mentally, emotionally, and physically for the rigors that come with entrepreneurship.
You have to be mentally tough because you will be tested every day. You will find that you’re often at the very edge of your comfort zone. That’s great – it means you’re learning and growing. But it isn’t easy, and some people find it overwhelming.
You need to be ready for the emotional roller-coaster that comes from business ownership. You’ll have highs … you’ll have lows. You’ll find that there are few days in between. Owning your own business can make you downright manic depressive! You have to be emotionally prepared for the ups-and-downs.
Finally, do you have the physical capacity to own your own business? Starting a business often requires long days. Very, very long days. Intense work. If it’s to be, it’s up to me – that saying had to be written for entrepreneurs. Be sure you’re physically ready to lead by example.
#8 – You’re sick and tired of just thinking about it. It’s time to do it.
Practice makes perfect. But practice gets boring after awhile. You’re ready to play the game! When you reach the point where you’re getting frustrated about just thinking about it, you’re ready to go!
Put another way, 13 when your fear of not trying has overcome your fear of failure], you know you’re ready to put yourself out there. Not trying disturbs you more than the fear of failure. You feel it in your gut – you just won’t be happy until you at least try it, so you can see if you can do it.
#7 – You have the education and experience to go out on your own.
You don’t need a college degree to start a business. However, you should have educated yourself about your industry. What are the success factors in this industry? Where are the opportunities? What are the threats? What are your competition’s strengths? Weaknesses? These are just a few things you should know before you make the leap.
What relevant experience do you have? Have you managed people? Have you made sales? Do you have the technical experience needed? What are your strengths and weaknesses? You don’t have to know it all – see Sign #5 – but you’re more likely to succeed if you have applicable experience. There are enough variables to deal with; your experience shouldn’t be one of them.
However, don’t think that you have to have experience in an industry to succeed. There are plenty of examples of outsiders who bring a new perspective, and therefore see fresh opportunities, to an industry. See Sign #3 below for some ideas on how to “buy” experience.
#6 – You have a supportive spouse, if applicable.
Most importantly, your spouse has to be mentally and emotionally prepared for what your new business will require from you. It will affect your relationship, one way or another. Your spouse needs to understand this. If not, you’ll find yourself with a bigger problem than anything you’ll deal with in your new business.
Ideally, your spouse has a career that supports your family while you build your business. If you can live off the income generated by your spouse, much of the pressure of starting up will be removed. You may even strike a deal with your spouse – you venture out now, so he or she can venture out later when you’ve succeeded.
#5 – You have a support network.
In addition to your spouse, do you have a support team? The business world is too complex to fully go it alone. You thought about your strengths and weaknesses in Sign #7 above. Do you have people in place who complement your strengths?
Do you have a strong network, particularly in your chosen industry? People you can call for help and ideas. People who have been where you want to go. Do you know the influencers in the industry?
As we’ll discuss more in Sign #3, you can “buy” this support by investing in a good franchise system or buying an established business. However, ideally you’ve developed your own base of support, no matter whether you start or buy.
#4 – You have six months (preferably twelve) of living expenses in reserve.
Do you have the financial capacity to support your business? Even if it requires little upfront investment, you don’t want to depend on your business to provide a steady income immediately. You need to have a reserve.
Of course, as mentioned in Sign #6, earlier, if your supportive spouse agrees to cover your living expenses while you get your business going, you can launch without an extensive reserve. However, you should still have some money set aside to cover you in case something happens with your spouse’s job.
#3 – You have a market-tested idea.
It’s one thing to have an idea in your head. It’s quite another to put it in writing. It’s better yet to have tested your idea with actual customers before you quit your job.
You may be able to start part-time. Try out your idea while you still have the luxury of a steady income from your current job. If all goes really well, your decision gets made for you – because your idea receives a great reception in the market and you quickly build an income that fully replaces your current income. Wouldn’t that make your decision easy?
There are other ways to “test” your idea:
- Buy a franchise. The franchisor has a market-tested concept. Just add capital and you’re in business!
- Buy an existing business. Find an owner of a successful business who wants to move on. Structure a deal and you’re in business – with established customers, employees, infrastructure, and cash flow!
- Model a similar business. Find an owner of a business like yours who is operating successfully in a market similar to yours. Interview them. Find out what their success factors are and copy them.
#2 – You have a plan.
You don’t need an elaborate business plan. However, you should know how you’re going to take your idea to market. What’s your strategy for executing your plan? Where will you find customers? How much will you charge? How will you fulfill orders? How will you account for it all? How much profit will you make?
You need to know the answers to questions like these, and more, before you quit your job. This is part of the initiation to entrepreneurship. It’s not flashy or sexy work; in fact it’s hard. However, it’s essential to improving your odds.
#1 – You have a contingency plan.
Ask yourself, “What if …” There’s one thing we can know, beforehand, for certain. Things won’t go exactly as you plan. You need to think through the possibilities before you launch.
What if your income expectations aren’t met? What if you can’t make it go? What if it succeeds beyond your wildest expectations? Believe it or not, that can present a bigg problem – albeit, a good one! What if, what if, what if … consider alternative scenarios and plan for them.
Planning is great. Having a back-up is better. Depending on your circumstances, you may even want a back-up to your back-up plan. Spend some time, before you launch, considering what might happen and you’ll be prepared when it does!
One thing that differentiates successful entrepreneurs from failures is that those who succeed are adept at minimizing their risk. Quitting your job to start a business is a risky proposition. Follow these steps and you’ll not only minimize your risk – you’ll make your chances of success much greater!