Want to Quit Your Job and Work for Yourself? Follow These Steps First

There’s an almost romantic notion of being your own boss . . . tossing down the shackles of the everyday workplace, no longer serving ‘the man’. Creating your own business instead of building one for someone else is appealing, right? For those with ambition and a dream, this stands as the goal. However, no matter how much you’d like to just tell your boss to “shove it” and burn every single bridge on your way out the door, hold back for a second. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. In fact, on the other side, there isn’t any grass at all. You’ll need to cultivate it, plant it and grow it yourself. Even if you want to quit your job and begin cultivating your own business, make sure to follow these steps first. It’ll help ensure you go about it the right way while setting yourself up for success along the way.

Is Your Idea Worth Pursuing?

There you are, sitting at home, drinking your morning coffee before heading out to work. Like every day, your mind wanders a bit this early on, thinking of everything except work. Suddenly, you have it! An idea so perfect you can’t believe someone else hasn’t come up with before. Or maybe you’ve just had it with work and are tired of having a boss, so you want to go at it on your own. All of that is great, but stop, take a deep breath and think to yourself “is this idea really worth pursuing?”

The thing is, there are times when everyone has what seems like a great idea, but, it isn’t all that good. Writers almost never sell the first manuscript they write. In fact, those first books almost never see the light of day. Why? There are varying factors, but in reality, it comes down to just not being good enough (yet) for actual publication. The same is true with business owners. Most first businesses fail because the owner didn’t have a concrete idea and plan ahead of time. They didn’t stop to think if their business venture really had potential. They just saw a makeshift light at the end of the tunnel, without seeing all the roadblocks warning of problems along the way.

None of this is here to prevent you from becoming your own boss, but merely as a warning and as important advice. While the idea might prove exciting and give you a new work drive you haven’t had in years, you first need to determine if it is doable and sustainable. So, sit down and examine your idea. Research it. Identify the competition and what kind of market response it might have. Investigate past businesses that have attempted to pursue a similar venture. Essentially, map out everything before taking another step towards quitting your job. Your current job provides a steady income. Your potential business idea doesn’t . . . at least not yet.

Prepare for the Down and Dirty Side of Being Your Own Boss

As your own boss, you make all the decisions. That may sound like a good thing, but there is a mighty learning curve you’ll experience along the way. No matter how much you research an idea and how prepared you are, there are a billion possibilities you simply can’t account for.

According to Bloomberg, eight out of every 10 businesses fail within the first year and a half. This is a rather sobering statistic. While it doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the successful 20 percent, it does demonstrate just how many people fail to take every aspect of running a business into consideration. The top reasons businesses fail in such a short amount of time is due to not connecting with customers, no identifiable difference from other products/services on the market, no clear voice, poor leadership and an inferior business model (Forbes, 2013).

So yes, the chips are stacked against you, but only if you don’t properly plan. You can avoid each of these top five reasons if you put in the time and effort into research and planning. As you’ll be running the show on your own, you need to get down and dirty with turning over every stone and doing everything you possibly can to ensure your business is a success. All this should be done before you quit your job in the quest of becoming your own boss.

Start Cutting Your Own Costs

Quitting your job and running a business costs money. Beyond the expenses of getting your idea up and moving, you need to understand the chances of not bringing any actual money in for a considerable amount of time. It may take months before you begin seeing any kind of payments come into your business. During this time, what will you live off?

Securing a business loan is important to establish a solid financial foundation for the new business idea. However, you likely won’t be able to draw from this for your own finances, and even if you can, you shouldn’t spend business money on personal expenses. So, if you have the drive to quit work and become your own boss, you need to have money set aside. Chances are, there are plenty of ways to cut back on expenses. Do you really need that cable package? Why not try making your own coffee instead of stopping off at Starbucks every day? If biking to work is possible, just think about how much cash you’ll save in gas (while exercising and improving your physical fitness while you’re at it).

Saving up money to live off for months (if not longer) will likely take you some time to accumulate. Thankfully, this gives you plenty of time to carry out the important research for following through with the business idea.

Add Money in Other Ways

While there are ways to cut down on expenses, chances are you may only end up adding, at most, a few hundred dollars a month to your savings account. This means it could take years to reach the point of quitting and starting your own business. Do you really want to wait that long? Probably not.

There are plenty of other ways to side hustle money into the growing savings account. If your schedule doesn’t allow picking up a second job you can become an Uber/Lyft driver during the weekends. If you have very little time for extra work, you can always sign up for survey website that pays up to a few dollars for you to complete the questionnaires. You may even consider donating plasma. This life-saving material is extremely helpful to local medical facilities and you can also net several hundred bucks a month by regularly donating.

Don’t Burn Your Bridges

In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer quits his job at the Nuclear Power Plant to take up his dream position at the bowling alley. While leaving, he drives out of the plant in a golf cart and torches a bridge on his way out. Homer literally burns his bridges to the former job, because why would he ever go back (he does)? This is a lesson in what not to do. Don’t burn your bridges. In fact, do what you can to maintain these bridges if possible at all.

Just about everyone dreams of an epic quit. They tell their boss how they truly feel while storming out in incredible fashion. It might look good in the movies, but in real life, it’s not as desirable (or beneficial). The fact of the matter is, with 80 percent of first-time businesses failing within 18 months, most of these individuals likely try to gain their former employment back. Nobody hopes for failure, but having a backup plan in place is a must.

So, do whatever you can to maintain connections to your past professional life. This works in two different ways. The first is, in the event of your business idea not panning out, the intact bridge may provide you with a way back into full-time employment. The second reason you need to maintain these professional relationships is you never know when you might need qualified employees to work for you. Should your business take off and grow, your first hires are some of the most important. Due to this, you need to know and trust whom you’re bringing in. As you already have an established professional connection with your coworkers, there’s nothing wrong with poaching employees to come work for you.

In Conclusion

No doubt, there’s something exciting about becoming your own boss. There’s also something just as terrifying. Following an idea to start a business (regardless of if it is a brick and mortar establishment or an e-commerce service) has limitless possibilities (good and bad). While you may know in your heart and your head the idea is good, you shouldn’t just quit your day job this very minute to focus your time on percolating your new work passion. Instead, follow these tips and make sure you really know what you’re getting yourself into. The more prepared you are the more likely you’ll discover what you thought to be a good idea may be fool’s gold. In time, and after putting in the time and energy into researching and making plans solid, go out and follow your dreams.

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Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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