Today there are many people who dream of becoming their own boss, and saying goodbye to a job in which they have no growth prospects, or that directly frustrates them. But of course, making that decision is not easy, especially as we grow older and assume more responsibilities, such as paying a mortgage or raising children.
The best option is to work at the startup of the business while you still have a job , and without having to give up a fixed source of income. There are many steps you can take in the “meanwhile,” with a plan that allows you to move forward in an orderly manner and at a steady pace. And always with the ethics and respect that your current employer deserves.
Keep in mind that, if everything goes well, at some point the business will demand 100% of your time and you will have to make a decision. But until then, these are the actions you have to take.
# 1 Identify a market pain
Although frustration may be the main reason you want to quit your job, it is a mistake to think about dedicating yourself only to what you like. Of course it is an important factor for motivation, but for the success of the business it is essential to unite your passion with a specific pain of the market . Because otherwise, even if you offer the best product or service, you will not find demand or customers. And without income, your project will be part of that statistic of 80% of new businesses that closes before the first two years of operation.
# 2 Put together a business plan
As we have said many times in this blog, it is not enough to have a good idea and a lot of enthusiasm. We need a map, a step-by-step guide of what we have to do each day, with specific objectives and measurable results. And above all, a clear x-ray of what market need we are going to meet, who the customers will be and what their main characteristics are, how our value proposition differs, who our competitors are and what the necessary investment will be. If you don’t know where to start, take a course or research the business incubators operating in your area.
# 3 Make sure you are not going to have problems with your current employer
Large corporations usually include clear rules on professional competence, conflicts of interest and data confidentiality in their employment contracts. And if you are thinking of taking advantage of your work experience, or the contacts that you have built over the years with a large client base, you have to make sure that you are not going to fall into some fault that causes your dismissal. Even if you work in a medium or small company without this type of legal protection, there are ethical issues that you should consider, especially if you have a good relationship with the owners.
# 4 Define if you are going to need a partner
The first challenge of those who undertake while still having a job is time. Because if you have to be in an office from nine in the morning until six in the afternoon (and sometimes even later), it will be difficult for you to do the first product tests, or meet with potential customers. There is also the issue of the initial investment, not only for the purchase of supplies or equipment, but to finance the first months of the operation. Undertaking with a partner is always more recommended, because it can provide another vision, knowledge, skills and contacts. But don’t make this decision lightly, and look for someone who shares your vision and life goals, not just financial goals.
# 5 Do the first tests
Do not wait until you have quit your job to launch your product on the market , or make the first presentations to potential clients. Face reality as soon as possible, with prototypes or simply with conversations with people who know well how your segment works. A common mistake among novice entrepreneurs is staying at the intuition stage about their audience’s buying behaviors , competitor strategies, or how marketing channels work.
# 6 Take things seriously
Don’t treat your business like a hobby , because then it’s not going to work, or it’s going to take too long to get off the ground. Work on your time management skills and set aside fixed hours for it, after work or on the weekends . Yes, you are going to have to sacrifice outings, trips or time with your family. But it is a better option than jumping into the void and starting a business from scratch without having a fixed income, especially if you do not have the financial support of a partner or your family.
# 7 Minimize fixed expenses
At first, invest in what really matters: the product, the value proposition, and the marketing and customer service channels . You will not need offices, or a secretary, or the development of your own e-commerce ( that’s what marketplaces are for ). It incorporates the lean startup model and starts with a minimum viable product , and subcontracts essential activities such as the assembly of the Web page or the management of social networks. Keep fixed expenses to a minimum, and review them when you are already generating sales.
# 8 Secure the first income
Ideally, that first income will cover fixed expenses within, say, a year. This can be achieved from a constant demand through an online store, or from clients who hire your services in exchange for a monthly payment or a membership. Analyze this point carefully in your business plan and determine which is the most convenient option.
# 9 Start building your support networks
Finally, and always taking into account the conflicts of interest with your current employer, start participating in activities that allow you to build a good database of clients, suppliers, experts and collaborators. And even from other entrepreneurs, with whom you can share experiences. Research what face-to-face and virtual events are held in your community. Or which are the business chambers where you could expand your network of contacts.