How to successfully leave your job to become an entrepreneur
You’ve had that conversation a million times in your head: what if you quit your job tomorrow? What if you decided to do what you really love? What if you finally launched that business you’ve been thinking about for so long? What if you made your side gig your main gig? What if?
But we all know that “what if’s” are not going to help you. Have you ever asked yourself why you haven’t done it yet? Was it because of timing? Maybe you were waiting for that raise that never came. Or maybe it was because of your kids. Or the economy in your country. The truth is, it will never be the right moment to leave your job, and you will always find very good reasons not to become an entrepreneur.
In the end, it all comes down to one thing: taking the leap. But that doesn’t mean that you should do it without thinking it out beforehand. Actually, transitioning from a corporate job to becoming an entrepreneur requires a lot of planning, anticipation, and preparation - way more than any other career change!
Think about the why
To start, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
What are the real reasons behind wanting to become an entrepreneur?
Do I know what this will mean for me, in all areas of my life?
When is the best time to do it?
How will I be able to access training, knowledge, and support?
If I need training, how much time will I be able to spend on it?
How will this decision affect my family and loved ones?
Am I financially able to support such a change?
What if I fail? Do I have a “plan B”?
Don't forget to dedicate some time to thinking about the kind of entrepreneur you want to be. There is no one size fits all, but you'll definitely have to change your mindset and learn or develop some skills: business focus, confidence, resilience, curiosity, agility, creativity, risk taking…
REad more: How to beat impostor syndrome?
All these qualities are crucial when you start the hike that is going to be the launch of your business - an adventure filled with bumps, rocky paths, detours, and an all around hard climb. It will be tough, but it will be worth it.
There are tons of resources online that can help you better assess what kind of entrepreneur you want to be and which qualities you need to focus on - Skillon is one of them.
2. Make a plan - not necessarily a business plan
The aim is not to build a bulletproof plan (there is no such thing) or to commit to a five-years scenario (life is messy), but rather, take the time to think about where you want to go, and how you want to get there.
You'll read everywhere that you need to define a 3 to 5 years business plan and stick to it. There is some truth to it - you will definitely need to provide direction or attract investors - but don't put the cart before the horse.
Your business plan will be the result of ALL your research on what your value proposition is, who your customers are, what your competitive advantage is, which business model suits you best, and what partners you need to make your business viable in the long run.
If you can, planning to save some of your income in advance to use later as seed capital can also be a good move. But don't start taking out a mortgage on your house or investing all your savings in your early-stage business just yet. Be wise: you need to be able to land back on your feet in case things don't go your way.
3. Let your boss know (or not)
Depending on your situation, you might want to consider telling your employer that you’re about to launch your own project - especially if you’re starting a business in the same field as your former company. Opening up to your boss about your plans might lend you some useful tips and networking opportunities - and who knows, it could even be the start of a fruitful partnership?
Some agenda issues might also arise during that transition time: you might have to take calls or schedule meetings during business hours - even take days to travel or arrange things. If you're planning to keep your job while launching your project on the side for a while, do some research: there are resources online for people who start their business while working full time.
4. Look for financial aid or support programs in your country - public and private
Along that line, don't stay paralysed because you don’t know where to start or how to talk to and get your first customers. Once you have found a problem to solve and come up with a business idea, you can start looking for help - think incubators and entrepreneurship programs.
If the ecosystem in your country isn’t exactly Silicon Valley, look for options online (yes, like us !). You can also talk to your city office or the chamber of commerce in your town: they will know what resources are available to aspiring entrepreneurs like you or recommend you to people who do.
5. Take The Leap!
Even though lack of capital and guidance are two of the main reasons startups fail, it shouldn't prevent you from launching your project. Especially since The Leap was designed so that all entrepreneurs, no matter their economic background, can access support. With the right support and methodology, you can develop your business project in the right direction and start getting your first customers in a few months.