Do you ever talk about leaving your corporate job "one day" because there's this hobby you want to make into your career / idea you want to bring to market?
Have you been saying that for the past 10 years?
The thought of taking your career in a direction of self-employment and can be an exciting one, though leaving your well-paid corporate gig to start your own business can be a daunting proposition.
It means not having a regular pay check and the very real possibility of burning through copious amounts of your saved-up cash before your business begins to generate an income - and then possibly even returning to the workforce after the business has failed.
The upside is that you could finally work for yourself, love going to work, explore infinite employment options and potentially earn a lot more money.
You're at the cross roads, and if you've been standing there for while, unsure which way to go, here are some tips which will help you make the right choice.
1. Evaluate Your Motivations.
First of all, you need to get really honest with yourself. Why do you REALLY want to start your own business?
Is it possible that you're merely trying to run away from something? Do you hate your boss - and have hated every other boss before him? Do you not like "working with idiots" - and that's a complaint you've always had about colleagues?
If you have a familiar negative theme in your employment history, chances are it has little to do with other people - at the end of the day, you're the common denominator in all your jobs. And if you start a business thinking that you'll finally leave the issues you're having behind, you're in for a surprise - they'll simply manifest themselves, in a different way, inside your own business. And it will sink.
2. What Are You Most Passionate About?
Imagine you won a billion dollars tomorrow. You have no need to go back to your job - ever again. What would you spend the rest of your life doing?
Sure you'd spend some time splurging, buying things, showing off a little (or a lot). But then what? You have all the time and resources in the world. What will the rest of your life be about? Would you travel? Would you take up singing, which you've been putting off because you've had no time? Would you fight for a cause? Would you not know what to do?
3. Will Your Business Idea Work?
Knowing what you're most passionate about will give an indication whether you should run with the idea of starting your business.
Your business and you are not separate from one another. If you don't care the smallest bit about travel, then don't be tempted to become a partner in a cruise liner company. If you're not a foodie and are not a people person that's OK - but don't even think about opening a cafe.
Why? Because a competitor who is passionate will beat you because for him doing things you loathe won't occur as a chore - so they'll do more of it, they'll do it better and they'll do it with a smile. But you won't.
4. Should You Quit Your Job?
You have, broadly, two choices - to quit your job completely (and work on your new business full-time) or to continue working full-time (and work on your start-up in your spare time). The first one entails taking on more risk, the second one gives you more security.
Risk-taking is essential in starting a successful business and the most difficult part is knowing how much risk you can tolerate.
As a guide, I suggest that you consider the first option only if your business idea has been tested / there's a clear market demand for what you're creating / you have experience in business strategy, marketing and are up to date with latest online developments.
If you're thinking about turning your hobby (be it photography, fitness or cooking) into a business and that's all you have, then the second option is best for you - until your idea gets some traction.
5. Will It Be Easy?
When you're working in the corporate world, people who are self-employed might seem like they have it pretty easy.
They can choose their working hours, they can often work from home and they bill at an incredibly hourly rate. The Internet is awash with overnight success stories.
The realities are that your small business grows proportionally with your ability to create value in your marketplace, and it takes time to sharpen your value proposition and use your time in a way which delivers a significant amount of value for you to be competitive.
What I'm saying is - prepare to work long hours, pull all-nighters and sacrifice your weekends - often with no money coming in.
And, especially if you're starting your business in your spare time, it can take a few years until the business is viable and even remotely stable.
Remember - in every overnight success story you read about you never get told about the months and years of struggle and failure that the entrepreneurs experienced before that "overnight" success happened.