6 Things To Consider Before Quitting Your Job To Start A Business
I went to school and got the degrees and kept moving up the ladder as an IT professional.
But the higher I climbed, the less qualified my managers were to manage me.
I grew increasingly frustrated with project after project where the manager wanted me to do things his or her way when they had absolutely no qualifications to be making technical decisions.
Doing it my way would take six weeks and doing it their way would take an indeterminate amount of time to ultimately never produce the desired result. And then they'd want to blame me because the project wasn't on schedule.
This happened on job after job. I'd stay about a year and quit in frustration, only to go to another job which really did nothing more than restart the countdown to frustration.
After about 15 years, I just couldn't do it anymore and decided that I was not going back.
So I left the industry for good back in 2016 to become an entrepreneur. I was just burned out of IT and didn't want to do it anymore.
I decided to leave my day job behind and earn a living using the only other skill I was good enough to make money with: photography.
I started a headshot business with no business plan (not a good idea) and in doing so, inadvertently made the mistake that millions of people make every year.
If you're thinking about quitting your job to become an entrepreneur, this post is for you...not to discourage you from starting a business, but to encourage you to do it the smart way.
The Great Resignation has a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs looking to leave their corporate job behind to pursue personal fulfillment and financial freedom.
Those are great objectives to pursue, but you really want to learn more about what it takes to be a successful business owner before you submit your resignation letter.
Professional Skills vs Business Skills
If I had to point out the one major mistake that sends people down a path of adversity it's thinking that professional skills are all you need to be a successful entrepreneur.
Professional skills are how you service clients. Business skills are how you attract clients.
If you don't have business skills, you can have the best widget in the world and nobody's going to buy it because they won't know that you or your widget exists.
Marketing and sales are business skills that you are going to have to develop if you want to have any chance at being a successful entrepreneur.
If you're expecting to put up a great website and do a few social media posts and then people are going to flock to your new business and buy your stuff, it's not going to happen.
Business skills are more important than professional skills when it comes to making money. If your product is Level 10 and your business skills are Level 2, you're not going to make any sales. But if your business skills are Level 7 and your product is Level 2, you can make lots of sales.
The ideal, obviously, is to have a great product and the business skills to sell it. But if you only have one or the other, business skills will pay your bills and professional skills won't.
So don't even think about quitting your day job until you've developed your business plan and started educating yourself on the business skills you'll need to be successful.
Running a business is a lot of hard work and that hard work begins with you doing your research before you walk away from your salaried job with benefits.
No matter how unhappy you are in your current position, the smart move is to do some basic research to validate your business idea before quitting your job.
[RELATED ARTICLE: How To Start A Business]
Your relationship with your bank, any bank, will change dramatically once you no longer have a full time job.
Any loans you need to get will become much more difficult. And many will be impossible.
So if you're thinking about buying a house, for example, or even taking out a credit line against a home you already own, these are the kinds of things that are easy to do as an employee and damn near impossible as a self-employed person until you have a business that has been generating significant income over a span of years.
Being in control of your time sounds great, and it is...once you know how to do it.
When you leave the structure of employment behind, you're now completely in control of all 24 hours of your day.
What's the right thing for you to focus on this week?
What should you be doing today between lunch and the end of the day?
You're not going to have any idea and it's going to take a while to figure it out. Meanwhile, your bills are still going to come in on schedule while you're trying to figure out what a productive day looks like so you can put together enough productive days to pay those bills.
Time management is a real problem for a lot of people who are new to running a business.
Most partnerships fail and take the friendship/relationship down with them.
The ONLY smart way to go into partnership with someone is to work with a business attorney to draft a partnership agreement that specifies the details of everything (who is responsible for what), including how to dissolve the partnership when somebody isn't doing what they're supposed to do, which happens ALL THE TIME.
When that partnership goes bad, you're no longer going to be able to communicate effectively with the other party(ies) and you're not going to be able to agree on anything. That legal partnership agreement is how you get out of that situation. Otherwise, you're going to be living a nightmare...basically married to somebody you can't get divorced from.
Most people aren't prepared for the isolation of running a small business. Especially the extroverts.
You're going to feel like you're on an island by yourself because your family and friends can no longer relate to any of the challenges you face as a business owner. They can't help you or advise you because they've never done what you're doing.
There is no water cooler to hang around when you run a small business. You'll have to seek out those communities and find one where you can get peer support from other business owners.
You have to learn what an ideal client is, then you have to figure out who your ideal client is.
This is a huge part of the business plan you have to develop to have any chance of being a successful entrepreneur.
Lots of small business owners struggle to make a living because they're trying to sell to "anybody with money."
When you're talking to "anybody" or "everybody", you're talking to nobody. You have to identify a specific person to market your business to in order to have any chance at getting their attention.
Issues Specific to Women Business Owners
I've worked almost exclusively with women business owners over the last few years and I keep seeing the same behaviors consistently undermining them.
Trying to do everything by yourself. That's a recipe for frustration and failure. Small business is a team sport and you have to build a team around yourself in order to have any chance of being successful.
Putting yourself last. If you take care of everybody else, including feeding the dog, before you do anything for your business each day, then you are leaving absolutely no time or energy for your business. WAY too many women do this and their businesses struggle as a result.
You must prioritize your business higher than dead last because, if you don't, your business will never succeed. Anything that you give only time scraps and energy scraps to has no chance of succeeding.
Undercharging is a pervasive problem with women business owners. And I mean significant undercharging, like charging $150 for a service that should cost $1000 or more.
It doesn't matter that it took you five minutes to solve a problem. You have to charge people for all the years of education and experience that allowed you to know the five-minute answer.
When you save someone time and hardship (and wasted money) by giving them the right answer in minutes, they have to pay a premium for that, not a discount.
Always thinking you need one more credential. This keeps a lot of women from moving forward when they already have two or three times the qualifications they need.
[RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Keys To Success For Women Business Owners]
Absolutely pursue your dream of running a business. Just do it smart.
And you can do it at any age.
But I don't encourage leave your current employer until you've gotten some basic information that's going to keep you from burning through your savings and struggling to cover your living expenses while you try to figure out things that you could have learned while you still had a stable job.
It is not fun trying to figure out how to pay your bills on a month-to-month basis and you don't have to end up living that way if you start your business the smart way by getting some basic information first from a successful business owner who has been where you're trying to go.
Find a mentor (free), a business owner who is willing to teach you some things, or hire a business coach. And you don't have to quit your current job to do this.
It doesn't matter how you get the information, just make sure you get it so you don't take a blind leap and put your savings and everything else at risk.