For years as an entrepreneur, I wondered what was the “thing” that made a business successful. What was the secret that successful business owners weren’t sharing with the rest of us? Was it a lucky break? Financial backing? A good connection to a powerful person?
Sure, each of those would be helpful, but the real “secret” is doing the work.
We can take courses, read articles and fill our heads with knowledge, but until we put it all into action with our full effort, it’s useless information.
As humans, we use excuses as crutches to building the businesses we dream of–“I’m too tired to build my business when I get home from work, I’m not educated, I have kids, I don’t have enough money” and the list goes on.
For every excuse you can think of, I can show you someone who defied that excuse and reached his or her dreams.
Today, entrepreneurship is the thing all the cool kids are doing. It’s painted as being able to love your work so much that it no longer feels like work. You have the flexibility and freedom to work on your terms as you lay poolside and the money rolls in.
In fact, you can purchase courses that will teach you the “3-steps to building a million dollar business while you sleep.”
Business owner hopefuls are being sold a glamorous lifestyle that’s as misleading as the unreal, styled photos on social media. Those with businesses wonder why they haven’t reached the level of success everyone else seems to have reached.
There’s no easy way to build a business. It takes years of dedicated hard work.
You dream of starting a small business, have plans of great success and a high life, and you want it all to happen in the next three years? Here’s your reality check.
Somehow it spread that quitting one’s job before a new business is established is the first step to starting a business. “Go all in, quit the 9 to 5, just leap,” they say.
To quit a job that pays the bills, puts food on the table and supports the family before a business is established is foolish.
Businesses take time to create and time to become profitable.
When I started my handbag business it took eighteen months before I had a product to sell and three months of sales to recover the initial cost of purchasing inventory.
What to do Before you Quit your 9 to 5
In those early days of the business, I was going to college full-time, worked a part-time retail job and ran a website that brought in money through ads. I didn’t complain and make excuses that I didn’t have enough time to pursue my business. I was on fire to see my business come to life and determined it would. I spent every remaining minute I had researching, learning and immersing myself in the industry of my new business.
There’s so much work to be done before you take the leap.
1. Write a business plan. Unless you plan on going to a bank to get a loan, it doesn’t have to be a formal plan. Know the costs of doing business and what your potential for income is before you make any investments in the company. Research operating expenses like manufacturing, equipment and supply costs, pay attention to the market and competitors (even if your concept is new, you have competitors). Hang out with people who will be your customers so you understand them and their pain points. Get to know the industry before you become a player in it.
2. Save money. Build up your personal savings for slow months of business and unexpected expenses. If you’ll be funding your business yourself, start saving what you need to launch the business. You’ll know how much money you need because you did your research writing your business plan.
3. Build your skills. New businesses need to be lean. It’s likely you will be doing everything yourself in the first couple years. Improve the skills you have and learn others; how to build a website, create graphics, bookkeeping, social media, SEO, how to share your story, how to close a deal, list building techniques. Learn, learn, learn.
4. Launch the business. While still working your full-time job, launch the business. It could be months before you have any income from it.
5. Pay yourself. As soon as you have income from the business, pay yourself. It can be as little $10 a week to start or could be based on a percentage of sales. Whatever the amount, your paycheck needs to be worked into the expenses of running the business from the start.
When to Quit Your 9 to 5
There isn’t a formula to know the perfect time to quit your job. Whenever you do quit, it will be a leap. You’ve reduced the risk of the leap by building up your savings. Your business has sales and you’ve been able to pay yourself from those sales.
You don’t have to make a clean break from your job to working for your business full-time. If your job will allow it (or perhaps change to one that does), slowly cut back your hours as you begin to get steady, predictable sales and clients.
Or make the clean break from your full-time job when your income is consistent and sales are increasing. Be sure to factor in the cost of lost benefits like health insurance when determining if it’s the right time. Watch the video, Turning Your Side Hustle into a Full-Time Business for more tips.
There will come a point that you will instinctively know the time is right. You’ll see growth in the business and know that if all your working hours are given to the business you will be able to push it to provide the financial income you need.
This is only beginning of the hard work it takes to build a successful business. Years from now, you’ll still be working hard to reach your goals. Entrepreneurship is more about the journey than the destination. If you want to reach the destination, you need to love the journey.