Future of Work

12 things entrepreneurs should do before quitting their day jobs

Marianne Grady
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Future of Work

Successful entrepreneurs almost always go through a period of time, when like the caterpillar, they are in a formative state. It begins with an idea, develops into a vision and then the “work” ensues. It doesn’t even feel like work! It can take weeks, months or even years for an idea to become viable. During that time, research, testing, forecasting and planning are a big part of the entrepreneurs life. How do you know when it’s time to quit your day job and make the leap? Here are 12 things to consider before you quit.

  1. Become an expert. You learn by doing. Make sure you are comfortable taking all necessary steps to achieve success in your new business. Whether it be selling, speaking, writing or anything else for that matter… be sure to get yourself out there. Read everything you can get your hands on and if you need training, get it.
  2. Make enough money to pay your bills (or almost enough). This will be proof positive that your business is ready for prime time. Do not jeopardize your financial well-being. Develop a plan for your finances and get a credit card (it may be your personal cc at first). Keep business and personal expenses separate.
  3. Have (at least) 3 months living expenses saved. In a perfect world, your new business will be generating great revenues and you will not have to worry. In reality though, it is likely that there will be a period of time when your business is not as profitable as you might need it to be.
  4. Establish your business legally. Decide on what type of business organization (Corporation, Partnership, LLC, etc.) is right for you and get legal assistance in the formation of that entity. If you have a product that needs to be trademarked or patented, protect your business and get it done.
  5. Work Your Network. When you first start on your own, you need your network. It may be to push out your message, sell your services or even to gain valuable advice. Be sure to chat up your new business and what it can do for customers. Your network will remain an integral part of life throughout your journey. Spend time each day to maintain your relationships. Help people, help yourself.
  6. Develop your elevator pitch and a business proposal to present to potential customers/investors. Know how to clearly communicate what your business can do for potential clients; remember, this is not about you, it’s about the value you can bring to your customer. This pitch should be no longer than a minute. Prepare materials that will showcase your business and the services you offer. When opportunity knocks, you must be ready to talk up your new endeavor.
  7. Seek advice and feedback. Talk to people who are already doing what you love. Ask for feedback from your clients. Get a coach. Learn how to make the experience of doing business with you one that inspires rave reviews and recommendations. Get testimonials from satisfied customers to help others trust you enough to do business with you and post them on your website.
  8. Work with a pro to develop your website. Unless you are a web professional, you will need the services of a web professional. Working with a pro will give your site the polish and functionality you need to maximize your business and optimize this valuable tool.
  9. Brand yourself and target your audience. Branding is not just a logo. There are people who like your message and recognize you as an expert in your field. These people are your potential customers. They want to know what to expect. Develop consistent messaging and image branding and stay that course. Try selling to your target audience before you sever the relationship with your employer… KNOW in advance that you have raving fans that want to do business with you.
  10. Get Social. If you haven’t used social media before, engage a social media pro to help you establish your online presence with all the appropriate outlets and create a schedule for posting, tweeting and/or advertising that you can stick to. Don’t ignore this free and easy way to expand your reach.
  11. Focus. When you are creating a new business, you may encounter many things you never dealt with before. Social media marketing, creating a website, public speaking… the list goes on and on. If you are overwhelmed, break it down into steps and seek expert guidance on those areas where you need it.
  12. Commit. Ideas don’t become realities unless you are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve success. Set SMART goals and make sure you hit them. This is your baby and you need to do the work. The best part though, is that it doesn’t feel like work… it’s your passion.

Before you quit, be sure to tend to your health while you have your company benefits. Often entrepreneurs have minimal or no coverage to save on expenses (not recommended). Take advantage of your benefits while you have them.

Another idea is to trade services. It’s expensive to start up. Is there a way to barter your services for those services you need? This can open up a lot of doors for you.

Despite your efforts, lack of time and inability to stay on top of your day job will make it difficult to scale your business… you will need to leave your day job to bring your baby to life.You will know when it’s time to emerge from the cocoon and spread your beautiful wings. You won’t be able to hold back anymore. This means your business is headed in the right direction and this is a good problem to have. Congratulations and all the best as you begin this new exciting journey!

This article is published in collaboration with LinkedIn. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Marianne Grady SPHR is a senior HR professional, coach and speaker.

Image: Emma Rose of Britain (L) and Nils Westerlund of Sweden work in the office of the HowDo, a “how-to-do-it-yourself” app,  start-up at the Wostel co-working space in Berlin. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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