The decision to leave the security of a traditional job for the uncertain life of an entrepreneur is difficult. You’re giving up financial stability, committing a lot of time, and accepting the challenges of running your own business.
Although you can never really know whether it’s the right decision beforehand, in many situations, the jump to entrepreneurship is worth the risk.
Taking the Leap and Leaving Your Job.
Leaving a well-paying traditional job to pursue entrepreneurship is hard for three reasons:
1. You’re going to make less money as an entrepreneur initially. You’ll see a drop in your disposable income because the new venture will require all the capital you can provide.
2. You will have to realign your financial thinking around opportunity costs for your business. It would be nice to take that well-deserved vacation, for instance, but the money might be better spent supporting your business.
3. Entrepreneurship exposes your weaknesses, and you’ll have to accept that you don’t have all the answers. This may be one of the greatest learning experiences of your life, but you have to be open-minded enough to learn.
It took me a long time to get to the point where being a full-time entrepreneur was ideal. I started an IT consulting business in college, which proved to be extremely useful in landing a great job at Netegrity.
Working at Netegrity was an invaluable learning experience, and the salary and benefits gave me a level of disposable income and financial security that I’d never had as an independent consultant.
But the entrepreneurial bug kept biting, and despite four good years at Netegrity, I yearned for a more diverse experience. I was still doing consulting work and built a point-of-sale and CRM system for a local cellular retailer. Having a good job afforded me the luxury of giving the customer a heavily discounted rate in exchange for the rights to the software. The product was a great success, and I decided to build a business around it.
The dot-com bubble had just burst, and it was a bad time for anyone in tech to be unemployed, so I kept my full-time job. However, after 14 months, I decided it was time to take the leap.
Several factors influenced my decision: We had a number of customers for our hosted solution, so we’d validated our idea and business model. Our customers were willing to serve as advisors, so we were getting plenty of useful feedback. Finally, working 18 to 20 hours every workday was starting to wear on me, and my performance at Netegrity began to suffer. It was time to make a choice.
6 Tips for Making the Switch to Entrepreneurship.
Once you’ve decided to tackle full-time entrepreneurship, it’s essential to equip yourself for success. Here are six tips to help you manage the stress and ease the transition:
1. Seek help for things you don’t fully understand.
Requesting help can be hard, but it makes you more efficient and increases your business’ chances of success. If you’re not a strong software developer, for example, hire someone or bring on a co-founder who is.
2. Talk to other entrepreneurs for real advice.
People who haven’t been through the entrepreneurial journey don’t fully understand the challenges — nor do they share the same mindset. When seeking advice, it’s best to go to other entrepreneurs because they’ve most likely made the same mistake you’re trying to avoid.
3. Make time for exercise.
You don’t need to train for the Olympics, but moderate daily exercise will help you cope with the stress you’ll inevitably be dealing with.
4. Create your own structure.
Leaving your job means you no longer have the luxury of maintaining a narrow focus, and you can no longer take processes and infrastructures for granted. Take some time to create basic processes, but be ready to tweak them after testing.
5. Get ready to fund-raise.
Entrepreneurship is a well-known path to great wealth, but the journey requires a lot of capital. Be ready to commit time to gathering funding from friends, family, banks, and angel investors.
6. Don’t be frugal to the point of dysfunction.
Many entrepreneurs assume their time is a free resource for their business, but that’s a big mistake. You need to value your time and be willing to spend money in certain areas to grow the business.
Only you can decide whether it’s the right time to become a full-time entrepreneur — everyone’s personalities and situations are unique. There will be plenty of times when you’ll question your judgment (and perhaps your sanity); we’re an insecure and paranoid group, but a successful entrepreneur owns those traits and uses them to feed his or her drive to succeed.
Tim Maliyil is the CEO and Data Security Architect for AlertBoot. AlertBoot protects customers from data breaches that damage their credibility, reputation, and business. The company’s managed full disk encryption, email encryption services, and mobile security services deploy within minutes to customers’ PCs, smartphones, and tablets, providing tremendous insight, visibility, and control.