You have a good career that pays well, but you want to strike out on your own. Should you quit your day job to pursue your dream? Well, not just yet, advise Lolly Daskal, Leo Widrich and Elizabeth Gore, writing for Fast Company.
Rather than taking a great leap into the entrepreneurial unknown, the three authors recommend a measured retreat from your current position.
1) Stay where you are for now. Use your job as a “springboard” to your new business, suggests Daskal, and do not quit until your new venture is successful and profitable.
Widrich (quoting CD Baby’s Derek Sivers) uses the metaphor of Tarzan swinging through the jungle; he never lets go of a vine until the next one is supporting his weight. Make sure you do the same when moving from career to career.
2) Do some soul-searching. Before you make the great leap, take some time to reflect honestly on your business idea and your qualities.
Do you really have the passion and determination to make your new venture work? And can your personal life can take the strain? Also, consider whether this is the right time to launch your venture. Are your future customers going to bite right now?
3) Create a cash safety net. Use your salary to help you establish a cash safety net that will keep you afloat for a few months, suggests Daskal. If you know you can survive even if your venture fails, you will be free to take more risks with your new business. It is imperative you create a budget that takes into account business costs, bills and your everyday living costs, stresses Gore. Make sure you have enough money to cover all of this before you let go of that comfortable salary.
4) Be creative with your time. You might see your day job as a drain on precious time you could be spending on your new business. But it can be useful to have this limitation, argues Widrich, as it forces you to prioritise and make careful decisions.
If you are finding it hard to get motivated after a full day’s work, switch your timetable. Get up earlier and do some work on your own venture early in the morning before you hit the office, he advises. That way you will be fresh and enthusiastic.
5) Buy yourself a little more time. If you still need more time for your own project, ask yourself if there are other commitments you can drop, suggests Widrick.
Write a list of all the things you do during the week to see where you can free up some more hours. And if you feel you need a big chunk of time away from the office to focus, a sabbatical or long vacation could be the answer.
6) Set a quit date. Keep your dream in sight and pick a quit date you can stick to, advises Daskal. Don’t take a risky leap. Instead, inch toward your goal with planning and patience.