If you are about to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship, you might probably feel like you are on the edge of a cliff.
Should you take the leap? Should you quit your desk job tomorrow?
It's by no means an easy decision to make. It has never been an easy decision for anyone who transitioned from a 9-to-5 job to full-time entrepreneurship.
However, if you think you are ready — and even if you are not — you will need to think about when. When is the right time to give up the salaried benefits and become self-employed?
There is no right answer. This transition can be messy. No, it will be messy.
However, there can be ways of smoothing out the process; embracing the change that it will bring into your life and that of your loved ones.
Here are eight tips to help you decide if you are ready for full-time entrepreneurship so that you can enjoy the creativity, financial and decision-making freedom, new lifestyle advantages, and all the other perks that come with being your own boss.
1. You need a track record of selling your product
If you have never sold the product or service that you are thinking of selling full-time, don’t quit your job yet.
You should have some part-time experience of selling — no matter the industry.
The volume of successful sales in the past that you can rely on for your new venture will depend on the industry you are entering.
For example, if you are going into insurance, fifty successful sales is a good number to give you the confidence that you can sell insurance full-time.
In real estate, however, selling six properties may be enough.
2. Make sure your business revenues cover your monthly expenses
Budgeting is important before you start your business. One of the biggest reasons for business failure is not having enough cash to meet expenses — usually in the first six to twelve months.
To prevent this from happening to you, you should calculate your expenses and estimate your revenues before you begin.
If you have already had experience selling the products or services that you shall now be selling full-time, you should have an idea of the projected revenue.
You will need to consider costs – not all of these may apply to you – like legal and accounting advice, insurance and other statutory requirements, internet or phone installations, power connections, equipment, raw materials, staffing, wages, and so on.
If you do not know where to start in calculating your costs, look up business statements of other businesses in the industry you will be switching to. Make sure to account for one-time and ongoing costs. Talk to industry associations if you have to.
Make sure your expectations are realistic, or you can find costs escalating quickly.
It also never hurts to overestimate your expenses.
3. Make sure you have at least six months of your expenses covered
Savings sufficient to cover six months of living expenses is the benchmark that most budding entrepreneurs give themselves before quitting their desk jobs.
Other people may feel safer with a bigger buffer.
A travel blogger I know saved up twelve months of her estimated living expenses before quitting her job, selling her car and starting that round-the-world trip she had dreamt of. She worked off her trailer and used her buffer funds for lean periods of no work.
If you have a family and kids to support, it will be a whole different ballgame. Make sure you talk to your family and explain to them how your finances will change. Are they okay with it?
4. Rope in someone to support you during the transition stages
Entrepreneurship is about risks. It is not panic-mongering to suggest that things can go terribly wrong. You may need financial assistance from someone else when they do.
Do you have someone you can turn to for that kind of help? For many single young people, their parents may be the first choice. For you, it could even be your partner.
If that person respects your decision and believes in you, it will be easy to ask for their help.
In some cases, you may need to convince that person that your decision is a good one. Convince them to take you on trust for a year or two, and then work harder than you have ever worked before to make them feel they have made the right decision in supporting you.
4. Think about the timing
It is essential to make sure that you get the timing right. Do you feel like you are ready for the added responsibilities of self-employment?
Are you ready for the possibility that you may not see personal income for a few months or even a year or two? After putting most of your business revenue back into your business, you may not have much left to spend on yourself. Are you ready for this?
Maybe you are not. Or perhaps you have been ready for a long time, but just haven’t had the guts to take the leap.
Either way, it is your call. No one but you has the answer. Take some advice from other entrepreneurs if you find yourself conflicted.
6. Make sure you have the guts
It is a foregone conclusion that you will need guts to take the leap. There may be unexpected situations along the way that will need all your courage.
For example, I know a couple who, in their third month of going into business together, ended up having a second child. This was something they had not planned for. However, they had the guts to continue with their business venture. Not everyone does.
The immediate months that followed were stressful and not easy. However, they stuck it out. By the sixth month, they had gotten things under control and were happier for it.
The bottom line is – don’t give up! If you have the courage to stick it out, you will get where you want to be eventually, despite setbacks.
6. Speak to your family about what will change
Full-time entrepreneurship will come with its lifestyle changes. You will not be working 9 to 5. You will probably be working 6-day weeks. Some entrepreneurs I know work 7-day weeks because they love what they are doing.
Your family will need to know about these changes. This is especially important if you are married with kids. Will your partner expect you to be home by 5 pm? You will need to let them know that that might not be the case anymore.
Working as a full-time entrepreneur does not mean that you will not have any free time to spend with your family.
However, let’s face it. Your schedule will change, and you should have a talk with your family to let them know how your decision will impact their lives.
7. Meet people in a similar stage of their lives
When you are taking such a big leap, it is natural to feel alone sometimes. Your family may be there for you. However, they won’t always understand the specific problems and pains that might come with giving up your desk job and taking on bigger responsibilities.
What you need is to meet a group of people who are going through the same aches and pains. Find a Meetup for new entrepreneurs. In fact, it is better if you make friends with individuals who are a few steps ahead of you. They will be able to help you navigate the new arena that you have entered or are just about to enter.
8. Learn as much as you can
You do not have to go back to school. However, you should spend as much time as you can learning about your prospective business — before, after and during your transition.
If you are going into the real estate business, for instance, try to read as much as you can about your market and the ideas you have. Learn about marketing – you will be your own marketer and strategist (as well as many other roles).
You will need to be on top of the latest news, tools, and trends in the real estate industry because the business landscape is constantly changing.
If you are at that stage in your life when your desk job is not what you want, full-time entrepreneurship may be the way forward for you. Not only will it give you the freedom to do what you want, but will also enable you to make an impact and grow in many ways doing what you love.
Are you ready for your new life as an entrepreneur? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.