6 Tips to Ditch Your Day Job & Start a Business

Starting a business is like the Oregon Trail.  Entrepreneurs are the pioneers.  The trail is the journey.  And California (metaphorically speaking) is the destination.  Why did all the pioneers travel the Oregon Trail even though they might have died?  Because they wanted to get to California more than they cared about dying.

So maybe you’re about set out on your journey, and you’re on that balance beam of starting a business, and how to leave a full time job.  Or maybe you have a business you’ve started part-time, and you want to go full-time.  But you’re a little nervous.  Well, here are some great tips to you make a smooth transition into a new business:

How to leave a job and start a business:

(I’ve included tips here for both product based businesses, and service based businesses.  If one tip doesn’t apply to, just skip onward to the next)

1. Time It Right

Quit your job too early, and you’ll be needing to go back to work…just when your business is starting to pick up.  With products, if it just my personal opinion, but I would say wait till your product is commercial ready.  It’s not a prototype, it’s not a beta, or an alpha.  It is a market ready product, that has achieved product-market fit.  Figuring out how to build your product, and then achieving product-market fit is a very time consuming process.  There is no money coming your way; and you’re dishing out alot of cash trying to get it ready for customers.

“The average founder overestimates the time it takes to get to market by 255%”- Startup Genome

2. Do Not Leave for a Free Product/Service

Never leave a job for a business offering only a free product or service. I cannot count how many times I see advice on VC, advisor, etc websites that say you need to be committed fulltime, even when your product or service is still free.  Do not listen to them.  Why?  Hmm…perhaps because your average investor makes about $500K a year.  Whereas our average entrepreneur makes $120K a year when starting their first business.  If they say it, it’s because they still view a founder or an entrepreneur as a 20 something year old living in his parents basement.  Unfortunately, this does not work for 99% of you.

“Either raise enough money to sustain yourself financially, or wait till break even before you quit your job.”

3. Get Rid of Small Costs First

There are lots of small costs that should be taken care of before you leave your day job to start a business.  Things like logo design, can be done now on demand for less than $200 (try Logo Mojo).  Other small costs will include a website, a domain name, etc.  Having these set up ahead of time help you look more professional going out into the business world.

4. Gauge Customer Interests First

Most potential customers will be understanding if you just ask them honestly: “I’m getting ready to leave my job and start a business.  Can you tell me if you would ever buy this {product or service}?”.  You’ll get an honest opinion this way.  Much more than some research survey.  Customers are real people, who respond to real situations, they are not just a computer gnome or an invisible face who buys something.

5. Get a Partner

If you’re strapped for time because of a day job, find someone who wants to go into business with you.  Two people, even if they both can only offer a few hours a day in the evening, is better then one.  Just make sure your partner can dedicate the same amount of time/money as you do, or else there will be resentment down the road.

6. Start Marketing Now

Service based businesses need to build up client relationships, portfolios, etc before they’ll see any real traction.  All this stuff takes time.  Not time as in the amount of hours a day, but time passing.  The truth is, the majority of your first clients will be offered discounted services, sometimes even free.

And at the end of the day, if you think you’ll make it without sacrificing time, money, and life…you’re only kidding yourself.  There is no easy way out to leave a job and start a business.  If it was that easy, everyone would do it.  But the good news is, the above tips will lessen the pain.