It’s not like me to write two personal posts in a row, but the feedback from the last one made me realise that, while it’s all well and good following your dreams or working for yourself (or both) it has to be realistic, feasible and right for you.
So I thought I’d put a little guide together on what to consider before taking the plunge.
*Disclaimer – this is just MY opinion – if you have anything to add please do comment ♥
So you’re thinking of leaving full-time work and starting your own business
♥ Test the waters – start doing whatever it is you enjoy outside of work hours. First of all to see if it’s right for you and secondly to see what the reception is like. If you love it and others enjoy what you’re doing then you have a real shot! Don’t just pick anything – think about what you’d do all day if you won the lottery – then that’s your answer. The next step is to figure out how to make money from it!
♥ ASSESS YOUR FINANCES. I can’t state this enough – look at your household outgoings and incomings, discuss the move with those it will affect financially (your family etc.) and make sure it’s financially viable. Some businesses, like a blog, have very few start-up costs. Other businesses may need loans, so you need to take this into account. I live more frugally now than before – you need to recognise that starting a business may mean financial sacrifices. Financially viable doesn’t necessarily mean matching your own salary. Also I have fewer costs now I’m not commuting and buying food every day. Sacrifices may have to be made, your lifestyle will probably not be the same as before, but if you think you can deal with that, then do it.
♥ Take on other work. I know amazingly talented freelancers who work in pubs and shops part-time to keep their income constant – that was my plan should the freelance work dry up. I personally take on a lot of freelance PR, copywriting and social media management work. If your skills can be transferred out of the office, use that on a part-time basis, to supplement your income. Also look at the various ways in which your business can make money. As long as they fit and they feel right to you then go for it. Ever heard of the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none?” Well it’s a load of rubbish. Don’t let that put you off using all of your marketable skills in a clever way – it’s called being resourceful. You will know if you’re spreading yourself too thin and it’s not for anyone else to judge.
♥ Make a schedule and a business plan – and set yourself small targets. Set yourself a time frame in which you want to make a certain amount of money so you have a benchmark as to decide whether it’s going the way you want it to. Don’t make these unrealistic as you’ll set yourself up for a fall. Businesses grow in baby steps, so be prepared for lots of ups and downs, two steps forward, one step back. Make sure you have enough saved to cover you during those early days.
♥ Are you disciplined enough to work for yourself? Make sure you’re motivated and driven or you could end up sitting blankly in front of the computer all day! This comes from loving what you do enough to want to do it all the time! Also you’ll have to do your own finances, admin etc. are you prepared to be every department in your business for a while?
♥ Think of the emotional viability of staying where you are. If you’re anything like me and find an office environment difficult, then don’t make yourself unhappy. There are some people who are perfectly suited to that lifestyle and love being around their colleagues all day. But there are others for whom implementing someone else’s vision on a constant basis, being aware of office politics and being around the same people permanently becomes so draining it’s hard to sustain. I’m, of course, completely aware that not everyone can just up and quit because they’re having a hard time. I KNOW how hard that decision is and it’s not one to be taken lightly. But just remember that, as long as you can put food on the table and keep a roof over your head, your health and happiness are both more important than money.
♥ Listen to your heart. Yes, it sounds corny, but a big mistake I’ve made in my life is valuing the judgements of others over following my gut instinct.
GOOD LUCK! I’m certainly no expert, but I am happy to support and offer help to anyone making this bold and terrifying move! If you need anything, please do email me firstname.lastname@example.org and if I can help you, I will.