Are you dreaming of starting a business while you’re logging time at a corporate job?
Entrepreneurs juggling their day job with a promising startup idea have many tough decisions to make. Perhaps the most difficult is knowing when to quit the Eight-to-five job so that you can focus of achieving your business dreams.
Deciding whether to throw everything into a new business or stick with the safety net of a salary usually comes down to a matter of timing.
Judging when to leave the security of a full-time job is essential to the success of your fledgling business. Done well, it will provide winning momentum. Done poorly, it could see you begging your boss for your old job back.
Here’s how to transition.
Develop your idea and find your niche
Once you decide to be an entrepreneur, people will ask what kind of business you’re going to start. It’s a fair question. But, it’s not as easy to answer as you might think. Before launching your startup, you need a clear picture of what you will do/sell.
The best business ideas solve a problem. Aim to fill holes in the market and provide something consumers need. To find your niche, you need to do some research.
Today, finding industry information is much more convenient. Search the web for ideas and tailor them to your experience, interests, and desired niche.
You should have your business idea developed before you quit your job. Use your weekends of free time for this, as neglecting your duties during company time could create issues with your employer.
When you quit your job to start a business, your employer is a part of your network and could help you in the future. A good business owner doesn’t burn bridges. Develop your business idea outside of work to avoid animosity between you and your boss.
Test market trends
You have your business idea, but how do you know if it has potential? Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur is a big step. You don’t want to make the wrong move with an idea that flops. To project the success of your idea, test it.
Try out your idea on small groups with a market analysis to gain insight on potential customers, competitors, and the industry. Conduct interviews, surveys, and questionnaires about your offerings, and see how people react.
Also, look at current market trends and listen to what experts have to say. Pay attention to key issues shaping the direction of the industry and use them as a guide.
Get a business plan
After you gather information, it’s time to focus on a strategy. Refine your idea with a business plan that acts as a roadmap for launching your business. A business plan details what you will offer, who your target customers will be, and how you will fund the company.
Your business plan can be anything from a simple outline to a formal document. Decide when you will open, where you will operate, and what inventory and equipment you need. Plan your marketing strategy and business budget. And, determine if you’ll be bootstrapping your business, or if you need to secure startup capital.
Chances are, you won’t have every detail figured out before you start the business. But, preparing for major parts of your operations is key. Countless things will go unplanned. A plan will help you face challenges and lead your business in the right direction.
Know when to take the plunge
How do you when it’s time to take the plunge? This should ideally be after your business has managed to attract customers, or at least shows strong signs of doing so. You also know you’re ready when most of your spare time is being poured into your business and it still isn’t enough.
Have an exit plan
Before you hand in your resignation, do the numbers to make sure you can still afford to pay the bills. This may mean planning your resignation months in advance and saving as hard as you can in the interim.
Find mentorship and support
Join a business support group or a mentor to share ideas with. Advice from those who know the ropes is invaluable in the early days.
Going out on your own doesn’t mean you have to grow your startup alone. Your connections can help you with business in all kinds of ways.
Your network should include experts who can offer valuable advice, from financial consultants to industry veterans. And, prospective customers should be in your circle. Fostering these relationships leads to long-term customers and a steady inflow of referrals.
You can network with others online through forums and social media channels. Also, do some face-to-face networking at industry events and community organizations.
One of the biggest entrepreneur events, Africa Summit for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ASENTI) Happens in Nairobi annually. It’s a great place to start off in building a network of both customer and mentors.
Quitting your day job is a big risk, but with careful planning and preparation the rewards can be great.