A brilliant idea, great connections in high places and a well-prepared exit are good, but not enough for a successful transition from full-time employment to entrepreneurship.
The switch from reporting to someone else daily to becoming one’s own boss is a risk-laden adventure, which must be taken with seriousness and preparedness. Though you may be adequately prepared technically as an expert in your field, the worlds of entrepreneurship and employment are miles apart. The uncertain terrain of entrepreneurship is perhaps best depicted in the mortality rate of businesses today. As stated by the Small Business Administration, only half of new businesses will survive to see their fifth year.
When you are planning your exit from 9 to 5, it is key that you place a premium on your time. Use the free periods you have to find out more about the business you are going into, those who are already in it, and what you can do differently. Take out time to reflect on the possibilities and the options available for you.
One of the first important steps to is let go of the employee mindset. Start to think like an entrepreneur. One of the many truths about making a transition is that the magical stream of well-timed pay cheques will stop coming. As your own boss, you have to ensure you generate revenue that pays your worker(s), vendors and suppliers, including yourself. Begin to learn the necessary skills to generate revenue for your business such as marketing and sales, creating a pitch deck, creating promotions, among others.
It also means that you believe in yourself and your ideas. It is about believing that you have as much a chance to succeed as you do to fail. Whether you see the glass as half-full or half-empty is a matter of perception. As an entrepreneur, you live in the acknowledgement that you won’t succeed all the time, and you will succeed sometimes. Entrepreneurship is about being optimistic, yet realistic enough to confront challenges. It’s about seeing challenges as opportunities. It does not require a business degree to have an entrepreneurial mindset, though it could help to have advance education to help improve your skills and enhance your knowledge.
Though the small details for setting up are important such as registering a business name, building a functional website, and creating a business card, the most important thing is creating value. Be deliberate about thinking about how your business will value to your clients through your business niche that makes you stand out. Start small, always remember that great things start small and are usually free – at least at the beginning.
You need a strong support system. There is a popular saying that two good heads are better than one, and this is applicable in the course of your transition. As part of this new adventure, you will experience many ups and downs. Sometimes the lows would be more than the highs and you need someone or people who also believe in your dreams, and the support of your family, partner or spouse will be valuable here.
Also, you would need to be financially buoyant. Start putting aside money when you make this big decision. You should have savings that can buoy you through six months to a year. Sometimes, the first two years are the toughest, while you are building a steady clientele, and generating revenue. You need as much financing as you can get – after you have got the plan properly worked out. As you work your way out of your current employment, live frugally, settle your debts, invest wisely, increase your savings, and spend based on your business priorities.
A frequent question often asked is when is the right time to take the jump. There is no right answer to that; people are motivated by different circumstances to make that leap. Some people attain the highest level of success in their careers, before they become entrepreneurs, while other people move on when they are driven to pursue their dreams and passions mid-way in their careers. There are people who start their businesses on the side, and still enjoy the financial security of their jobs, and then they decide to full commit to their businesses and leave their jobs. The final decision rests with you and how well you are prepared.
Your current job offers you a great opportunity to plan properly while you plan on how you will add value; get your first customers; increase your visibility, but you must establish the right balance and maintain the ethics of your employment while you are still working there. Do not use time dedicated to working for your organisation to work on plans to launch your business. What you should never do however is to wait for the perfect time. If you do, right time may never come. Remember that ideas are universal and not unilateral to anyone, least of all, you.