Entrepreneur—a word that invokes a sense of pride and respect, success and worth. Who wouldn’t want to trade in the label employee and their day job, for the more prestigious title of entrepreneur? Not everyone, however, has what it takes to make a go of such ambition. Like a good Boy Scout, you need to be prepared before you leave your day job to become an entrepreneur.
Are you prepared with a sound idea?
Not every idea is a viable one. The patent office is full of ideas that looked good on paper and perhaps in theory, but were not practical. Other ideas flopped because there just wasn’t the interest that was anticipated. You need to look your brain child over long and hard (and maybe watch several episodes of “Shark Tank”) before sending it into the world. Do some thorough research and planning. What is your final product? Who is your intended customer base? How will you finance your venture? What are your goals? Why are you doing this in the first place?
Are you prepared with realistic expectations?
Think of the lottery. How much money do people spend every year on lottery tickets in the hopes of winning it big, and how many actually win? The odds are something like 1 in 175,000,000—yes, that is million. Unfortunately, the odds of having an out of this world, money-making business are about the same, relatively speaking. Truly successful entrepreneurs are few and far between. There is a reason that men like John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg stand out—they are one of a kind businessmen with amazing abilities. Unique! And they worked hard, fighting to be the best. Do you have what it takes to do that? Are you willing to sacrifice life’s little luxuries and even necessities to make your idea succeed? Are you ready to fail?
Are you prepared with financial support?
Yes, there are government incentives and programs to help a small business get off the ground, but you will need more than that to succeed, not to mention live. How do you plan to provide for your family? What about health, home, and car insurance? Any plans for retirement? The majority of financial advisors recommend that you have at least 6 months of savings set aside to cover your expenses; you still need to eat, pay bills, and put gas in your car while launching your business. And what about those start-up costs? Do you have any backers? You need to figure in manufacturing, marketing, and maintenance. After all, it takes money to make money. Leaving your day job too soon may result in financial difficulties.
Are you prepared with good relationships?
You can’t go at it alone, so surround yourself with a strong social network. It’s important that your spouse and family be onboard with your vision to encourage and support (and possibly finance) your plans. Friends can play a key role in providing feedback and ideas for improvement. And don’t forget the importance of your former employer and coworkers from your day job. You want to make sure you leave on good terms and with a positive impression; they are now the starting point for your base of customers. And who knows? Maybe they will work for you someday.
If you are truly ready to leave your day job and become an entrepreneur, you need to be prepared. Read and learn from past success stories, but be your own man and follow your own aspirations. Remember, “You don’t become an entrepreneur because you want to be rich or famous. You become an entrepreneur because it chooses you. No matter when you make the decision, you know in your gut you just have to go for it.” (Patrick J. McGinnis, author of The 10% Entrepreneur).
Can you say that? Then it’s your time.