Are You Ready to Go from Employee to Full-Time Entrepreneur?

cubicle row 2 © by Katy Warner (2007)

The very idea of leaving the cube behind to become full-time entrepreneur can be exciting. But the grass is always greener on the other side, and while entrepreneurship has its benefits, there many things fledgling entrepreneurs should consider before deciding to go it alone. If the lure of "firing your boss" is calling you, here are 10 things to ponder before you make the leap to full-time entrepreneurship.

  1. You're the man, or not. If you want to become an entrepreneur because you don't want to work for "the man" anymore, consider that working for yourself might mean working for a meaner boss. Also, when you take on clients and customers you end up working for more than one person instead of just for yourself.
  2. Understand your options. If you're going to become a solo-preneur and go it alone, there are essentially three different types of businesses you need to be aware of, and any business can be a combination of these. You can either provide a done-for-you service, a consulting service, or a product.
  3. Start with a service business. Until you build up enough of a customer base, you will likely be providing high end services. This is a good place to be because you are fine tuning your knowledge and skills to be able to package them up into more scalable product offerings down the line. You'll want to jump into fulltime entrepreneurship before you get to the product phase.
  4. Plan to save money. As you look at the best time to leave your job, put together an estimate of how much money you need to bring in on a monthly basis to sustain your lifestyle. If it doesn't seam feasible, look for ways to scale back on your spending. Start saving now so that you have a nest egg when you do leave your job, because it always takes longer to become profitable than you might think.
  5. Surround yourself with other like minded business owners. It's easy to stay in a job that isn't serving you if all of your friends are doing the same thing. Instead, find yourself a group of accountability buddies who are in a similar situation to you, or a few steps ahead so they can give you guidance as you navigate this new path in your career.
  6. Be willing to pivot. As human beings we think we've got all the answers figured out. When it comes to business though, you need to be flexible and listen to the market and response. If you're working your tail off trying to sell a product or service and it's not giving you the returns you're looking for, consider what your audience and market is spending money on. It's possible that what you're offering just isn't a good fit.
  7. The state of the economy is not a justification for or against entrepreneurship. If you want to start a business, there will never be a more perfect time than when you're ready. Starting a business is the most powerful force for personal development I've ever experienced, so get ready for the ride of a lifetime and don't make excuses if you put it off.
  8. Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can before, during, and after you start your business. It's not necessary to go back to school or to spend years researching your idea and market. However, it is necessary to read books about business, your business industry, and marketing. It's your job as the business owner to stay informed and to keep an open mind to new ideas and tools, because the business landscape is constantly changing.
  9. Start on the side. The best way to know if you can make it as a business owner and if your ideas are viable is to start your business on the side. Check with your boss and company policies before going ahead with the side business, and then hang your shingle up. Watch what happens, how you feel, and who responds to your offers.
  10. Get ready for growth. Once things start to take off for you, you'll need to make a choice as to whether you want to keep your business on the side or make the leap to full time. Sometimes you need to leap before the income is there, simply because you can't take on more work than you can manage. Other times you'll know you need to quit your job when your business becomes more profitable and motivating.

Nathalie Lussier got her Bachelors in Software Engineering then promptly turned down a "stable" job on Wall Street to start her own online business. She's an online business triple threat who teaches people how to get techy with their business as a digital consultant.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment and provides entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth.

About Nathalie Lussier

Nathalie Lussier is an award-winning entrepreneur and host of the Take Your Business Off The Charts web show and annual live event held in New York City. She's also the creator of the free 30 Day List Building Challenge for entrepreneurs who are ready to scale.

12 Responses to Are You Ready to Go from Employee to Full-Time Entrepreneur?

  1. Ian S says:

    It's a very tough decision to make. Going from certainty, consistency, and comfort to chaos. When I left my full-time job, I was freaking out for a few days wondering if it was the right decision. A week later I knew it was one if the best decisions I had ever made.

  2. Peter says:

    Starting a business on the side is great advice. The board game Cashflow101 teaches you to grow your investments and business ventures so that you have enough passive income to quit your day job, rather than quitting your job upfront and then jumping into your own business.

    It will also give you a taste of what it takes before committing.

  3. Tom Sacco says:

    But the grass is always greener on the other side ...

    (Is that a typo -- IS???)

  4. Paul McNeal says:

    Nathalie - as someone who helped build one business and now building my own, I can affirm many of the points above. Number three really speaks to me right now because my new business is primarily high end services and I will be looking to create a product in some way. I can also say that saving gives you the ability to focus without being concerned about financial issues. I did this my first time and this time as well. Frugal living is paramount and it's amazing how little you can live on when you try. Lastly, I am a NAVY sponge when it comes to soaking in the knowledge. I severed 10 years in the Navy and it taught me many things but the best was how to be teachable and learn. Thanks for the awesome tips!

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  8. Great article, and sound advice Nathalie: I have two thoughts:
    (1) It always costs more and pays less than you think. Entrepreneurs typically make 35% less during their career than an equivalent Full Time Employee (FTE). So save your pennies now. In fact, until you have 1 or 2 years of living expenses saved, keep working.

    (2) Sooner is always better than later. Harvard did a study showing older entrepreneurs are more successful... but I disagree (strongly). In my experience you may not be ABLE to quit your job if you wait too long. Here's why: http://rocksolidfinance.com/quit_your_job_now_while_you_still_can/

    Keep up the great work. Would-be-Entrepreneurs need to hear from you!

    Dedicated to your (self-made) profits,
    David Worrell
    Rock Solid Finance

    http://rocksolidfinance.com/quit_your_job_now_while_you_still_can/

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