Starting a business at any stage can be scary, exciting and maddening all at once. There are a hundred different milestones and goals you set yourself in the process of launching a startup, but arguably the most daunting of all is reaching the stage where you quit the day job and focus on your business full time.
It’s hard not to second guess yourself with this. If it’s too soon you could be putting you and your business at financial risk. If it’s not soon enough you could be stunting the growth of the business and missing out on crucial opportunities.
It is hard to juggle work with a startup and everything else you have going on. Many nights are spent sitting up into the small hours working on your business, knowing you have to be at work in the morning. But there are a few things you should do before quitting your job to maximise your success when you finally decide to go full time on your business. So how do you know if it’s the right time to take the plunge?
You’ve Laid the Groundwork
There’s so much planning and strategising involved at the start that can be frustrating, but it’s absolutely necessary to your future success.
Doing research, checking out competitors, really thinking through the logistics of your business and how it will operate – it all seems obvious, but if you have launched and you skipped this step, maybe think about going back to basics and going through it all before trying to go any further.
Setting the foundations of your business and doing it right ensures that you have a solid structure to build upon. That’s not to say you won’t pivot and adapt and change things a million times as you go – because you will, but as long as you have done your homework and set your goals from the beginning, you will be able to manage all those changes.
You’ve Begun to Create a Buzz
Whatever stage your business is at, whether it’s brand spanking new or it’s been running in the background for years, it’s never too early or too late to improve your social reach. Social media is such an important part of every business strategy these days, and if done right, can be your most powerful marketing tool.
Working on your social channels while you are still working the day job is a bit of a no brainer – it doesn’t require any financial commitment from you and it’s something you can just dedicate half an hour to each day in order to start building a buzz about your business. Consistency is key here and posting regular content and engaging with your customers will ensure there is a of a hype around your business. This applies no matter what size or stage your business is at – your social channels always need some TLC.
You’re Comfortable with the Financial Situation
Notice I didn’t say here that you are financially comfortable or earning enough to keep you going. This entirely depends on the kind of person you are and your situation.
For some, this step will be about making sure you can support yourself before taking the leap. However, for others, knowing they have to kick the business up a few notches in order to make a living can light a fire under their bellies.
Depending on your personality, you can look at this either way. If you need the security (and are more sensible than me) then not knowing for sure you will be able to cover the bills could be such a stress that it actually distracts you from being able to work efficiently and hinders your progress. While others work best under pressure and need a bit of fear and risk to perform at their best.
An old mentor of mine used to say that there’s no motivation like ‘have to’. This is entirely a personal choice, but decide in advance what you would be comfortable with and make sure you’ve reached it before you leave.
You Can Generate Your Own Motivation and Discipline
A common misconception about being self employed is that it’s an easy lifestyle – you can just work when you please and take time off at your leisure. But the reality is that you will likely have to work twice as hard as you might have in your day job.
There is nobody else to fall back on, nobody else to pick up the slack – it all depends on you. So it’s vital that you are able to motivate yourself to keep going and have the discipline to get things done, even when you really don’t want to.
There’s no boss hanging over you and checking up on your every move, so you need to know that you are going to be able to push yourself without the help of a manager.
Running a business is a wonderful thing, but there are definitely parts of every business that nobody wants to do. A common trap I’ve seen a lot of new business owners fall into is to work very hard on the bits they actually want to do, and avoid the bits they don’t want to do – then justify it with how hard they have worked on the other areas. It’s like procrastinating with work. It is so easy to do and so so common, I am still guilty of doing it sometimes after nearly ten years in business.
But you need to have the self awareness and discipline to be your own manager. Are you able to keep yourself going and do what needs to be done?
You Have a Plan
By this I don’t mean that you’ve written a business plan. You can write one if it helps you, but I personally believe that too much emphasis is put on business plans, and so much time is energy is poured into writing them, delaying people from actually just getting out there and doing it – and a lot of the time they completely miss the point.
But what I mean by having a plan is that you have an idea of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there – a sort of roadmap to your success. If you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish then you can’t really get there, you’ll just be wandering around with no real direction.
Think about what the dream outcome is for you, where do you see the business in 6 months? A year? Five years? Figure that out, then break it down step by step into how you would get there, what needs to happen in order for you to achieve that. Then take those steps and turn each of them into achievable goals. So not just ‘I want to increase sales’ but ‘I want to achieve 500 sales by October’. Believe me it is A LOT easier to get the basketball in the net if you can actually see where the basket is.
Ultimately, only you can know if you are ready. No amount of articles or online quizzes or prodding from family members/coworkers can tell you if it is time. But hopefully this has given you some food for thought and helped to figure out if you’re ready to take the jump to full time business owner.
Let me know in the comments if you’re thinking about going for it!
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