While most of us seek employment and to scale up the corporate ladder, there are those who seek to become entrepreneurs and ultimately become employers themselves. The transition from employment to entrepreneurship is not an easy one. The switch from security that comes with a salary every month to the roller coaster of a business’s unpredictable nature; from the safety net of a job description to suddenly being in charge of all spheres of a business; not to mention that one changes from being employed to becoming responsible for employees. All these changes can be quite overwhelming, especially if someone is not well prepared to handle the issues that come with self-employment.
Below are some strategies to consider as you make plan your next steps;
- Learn everything about the business you are currently in.
Why? The principles will help you even in a different business. You will learn mindset and what to keep your eye out for when you transition. At the very least you can understand the landscape and what not to do if the business is in your hands. It will also make you a better employee, as you will no longer be compartmentalized in your work and thinking but will be looking towards a bigger picture. ‘What is best for the businesses will become your song. By the time you do this effectively, your employer will get more value out of you and if he notices, and you will have gained invaluable practical skills in different leadership aspects. For advice on how to handle the transition, Sign up here for ‘before you quit your job’ and view a free online webinar.
- Save your money
Plan your finances so that you can have a buffer as you transition into your new context. How much do you need to live on each month when you spend on essentials e.g rent, transport etc.? So if you needed a 6 month buffer for example, how much would you need? Consequently, how many months do you need to save for? What expense can you put aside for your greater good? Make decisions about your finances and plan accordingly e.g whether to continue paying medical insurance even after you leave your job etc
- Strategic Crowdsourcing.
Tell family and friends you are transitioning. Use wisdom, as some family will out of concern scare, persuade or guilt you out of your decision. It may prove an opportunity to reassure them and even mention some strategic moves you are making to ensure your success. And that, no you are not mad to leave a perfectly safe job with insurance, pension and benefits. Stay calm in the conversation. Give them time to see the mature individual you are, as they may still see you as ‘little cousin who needs advice and protection’ or ‘another family member I’ll have to send money to each month’. Let the conversation steer away from the emotional reasons ‘I feel stifled’ to the logical ones ‘I am practically the entire business, so I’d rather benefit from it’ or’ I have innovated a new tool or a new way of production’ etc. Maneuver them out of advising you to stay at your job and get them into the space of ‘Here’s what you can do to help, send referrals my way, I’m sending you my profile/work samples.’ Sound and be confident and organized, so they are assured you will not ruin their reputation should they send you work. Set up a commission structure or reward system if necessary. Get your feet wet doing a few gigs as you learn best practices and set up systems and processes to ease your work, and for the time you hire a team. Meanwhile when you have a lot of work outsource strategically before you are ready to hire a full time team.
- Outline your business structure. Do this, even if it is just a diagram on a serviette that you restructure as you figure stuff out. Outline the key roles in the business, and their job descriptions. The book, the e-myth revisited, helped me structure and organize my business, defining roles and simple job descriptions for each. These are later re-assigned from the business owner to new hires when the business grows. Have an outline or an idea about targets for each month or each quarter for the 1st year, with room for flexibility or to pivot based on what you learn that’s important for your business. If you need to hire, decide whether to start with interns as they are cheaper, or hire a professional directly, on a freelance basis. An intern means more time spent training, do you have the time? A professional means investing more money but you should have better quality results, question is, where will you source the money? Or you could hire graduating students and grow them as the business grows. Either way, figure out which resource you need to prioritize and assign them accordingly.
- Develop your work plan
This is developed alongside the business structure. Plan out what percentage of your time will spend on Business Development and Marketing and what this actually entails. What percentage will be in doing the actual work you are being paid for or in delivering the promise.
If you need assistance developing your Marketing strategy, send me your burning question and I’ll be happy to help out where I can.
- Schedule your day’s activities
This way you know what you will be doing with your days and working hours to avoid wasting time. This also means you will not be shocked by the transition and find yourself with a lot of time and uncertainty about what to do with it, meanwhile your revenues suffer. Your work plan will also guide you into when it is time to hire, as you will notice a trend when there is more work than the hours you have in a day to do it, or observe the trend of delayed delivery times.
What time do you rest and have meals, etc. Ensure you schedule time to exercise, relax, meditate and socialize with family and friends. This is essential because if you fall ill or get imbalanced your entire business will suffer. In the early stages your business really needs you as a key player in every aspect. Also plan for time for other important priorities such as networking which is an avenue to meet potential clients and gain exposure to further your business. Sign up here for a free networking checklist, to help you network like a pro even if you are an introvert.
- Justify the move.
To justify your departure either your business revenues should be equal to your current salary, or what you need to live each month, or you have more clients that you can serve in the weekend and evenings as you have been doing, so you need to dedicate more time to your business. Otherwise it is usually smarter to keep your job for cash flow and even hire someone to help you run it until the business picks up. Organize well and be clear on your targets so that you don’t have to go back into employment; which can be awkward.
- Explore if you can become a supplier to your current job.
This means they become your client number 1 as you service them in addition to other clients as well. This move would take some finesse and good planning. In some cases there’s not enough goodwill to achieve this, but try your best. E.g if you are the office graphic designer, can they remain one of your clients as you service a larger staple of clientele? Work it out carefully and you might just win the contract and get the best of both worlds. This could mean you get paid for doing what you used to do, plus more for serving other new people as well. Whoop!whoop!
- Brand yourself well.
Prepare and test your marketing material beforehand. Look and sound professional, prepare your logo, one page website and business cards. Get your portfolio professionally designed. People need to trust you to work with you, help them to believe you are serious and you are here to stay. This is how to build trust as your reputation continues to grow. Speak at events, attend industry activities, introduce yourself properly, none of “I’m just a startup ‘. At least be a ‘Startup in an exciting new venture that designs leading edge 3d graphics never seen in this market before’ Get your elevator pitch ready. Speaker training is available on www.linaconnect.com or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org for tailor made coaching services to help you get you pitch ready, super fast. Tell the truth about yourself and your business, but package it well. E.g an all women business is ‘A group of 5 powerful gals running an a fully-fledged women-led business”
- Be a top notch supplier or client
Be a good client to your supplier while you are employed. Keep your promises, tell them the truth. None of the ‘Your cheque will be ready tomorrow’ when you know full well that it won’t. This was helpful for a graphic designer who transitioned into publishing cook books. She used the same supplier she used to use for her employer, and he gave her credit facilities because she always kept her word and was trustworthy. That meant she could pay him right after she got paid by her clients. How cool is that!?
If you are good to your clients and give them the best service you can, they might choose to move with you and become among your first clients, or follow you when your-soon-to-be former employer, the service provider, can’t match the level of top notch service you have consistently provided for a while.