But how do you know when you’re really ready? We asked some entrepreneurs for their advice on starting out and how they knew they were ready to take the leap:
1. You’re OK with failure.
“In this day and age, we are so defined by what we do for work that entrepreneurship is much riskier than just investing money in a business. It’s deciding that you actively want to be identified as someone who devotes their life and their passion and their reputation to their business. If it fails, even in a small way, it can feel like your entire reputation has taken a body blow,” says April Wachtel, a beverage and hospitality industry veteran and founder of Swig + Swallow, a newly launched line of cocktail mixers. So if you understand and accept the risk and feel the reward outweighs all of that, then go for it.
2. You’re a curious self-starter.
Wachtel says that if you’re a self-starter and enjoy learning, “you should file the paperwork [such as licensing and permits] immediately before you have a chance to change your mind. That first step is always the hardest part: deciding you have something valuable that you want to share with the world. If you can trick yourself to get past that first mental barrier, the rest gets easier and easier and easier.”
3. You have sufficient savings.
If you’re quitting a full-time job to start a business, you’ll probably be saying so long to that steady paycheck as well, so be prepared. “Depending on your financial situation it can take time to start receiving a salary from your business,” explains Malene Barnett, a home textile designer and business consultant based in Brooklyn. So it's best to have other sources of income or nine to 12 months of savings to maintain your personal life while the business is growing.”
But potential small business owners shouldn’t let nagging doubts or a not-ideal financial situation deter them forever, Wachtel warns. “In regards to timing, for 99.99% of the population, there is no such thing as ‘the perfect time’ to launch a business. You can always say ‘I wish I was out of debt. I wish I had more money. I wish I was younger, was older, had more management experience,’ and so on.”
4. You own your own home.
“Most people don’t think about this as a factor before starting a business, but I believe it's very important to own your home or a property before you start your business,” Barnett says. “I always advise to invest in property before you quit your regular job. This way when things are slow with business you always have the option to use your space as a source for additional income. I purchased my home before I started my business and I’m glad I did. Not only does it provide additional income but it also allows me to use my space for editorial photoshoots that are in sync with my brand.”
5. You don’t want another office job.
After leaving her last (and lucrative) job in the spirits industry, Wachtel decided that she wasn’t going to take another job unless she was “head over heels in love with it.” But nothing appealed to her -- except building her own business. “I didn’t even have a product or a specific service to offer, so for months I flopped around, experimenting and figuring out what I really wanted to do.” While doing consulting work in her field, Wachtel formed and developed her idea for Swig + Swallow, which eventually allowed her to become her own boss.
6. You know your stuff.
“Can you talk about yourself, the product, and what your business offers with confidence?,” Barnett asks. At the start, you may be solely responsible for marketing and getting the word out. And “you can’t be afraid to tell people what you do,” Barnett says. “If you are hesitant about sharing than you should work with a life coach to help overcome your fears. Being an entrepreneur attracts criticism and judgements from many angles; be prepared knowing that someone will have something to say about you and your business and learn not to take it personal.”