Employee to Entrepreneur: How to Handle the Transition from a Career to Starting Your Own Business
Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
If you've clocked into a 9 to 5 job for your entire career, you might be unsure of how to transition into starting your own business. Actually, forget unsure—you might even be scared to do it. "Fear, uncertainty and doubt often are top of mind when people are thinking of breaking out on their own," says millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. "It's a gamble and a risk to take this step." But with this expert advice, you don't have to be afraid. Here's how to make the transition smoothly.
Realize it's normal to be afraid.
It's perfectly normal—and even healthy—to feel a little fear when leaving a stable career, says career coach Hallie Crawford. And you shouldn't push that fear down: In fact, as long as your fear doesn't hold you back, it can help you make smart and realistic choices as you launch your own business. "There will be a grieving process, even when they are sure about the choice they have made," says Crawford. "Take time to go through the natural grieving process that will arise for you. Realize that it's normal, and does not mean you've made the wrong decision. It's a life change, and a big one at that—and with those can come emotions you have to work through."
Ease into it.
Do what you can for your new business while you still have that career, advises Jacinto, rather than diving in all at once. In your free time, develop its website, recruit future clients, and learn whatever you can about your new business and industry "before you officially say sayonara to your old gig," she recommends. "Or start working part time in this field, if it's a new direction, for a small business owner. This enables you to see the full picture of the day to day operations."
Create a business plan.
Before you leave your career for your new business, create a business plan of yearly, monthly, weekly, and even daily items you'll need to accomplish. "Being organized can help relieve uneasiness but also helps ensure your new gig is successful," says Crawford. Your business plan should include how you'll develop capital, source clients, and set budget expectations, as well as include a marketing and sales plan, whether you provide services or products, says Jacinto.
Network as much as possible.
As you make the transition, "Share your plan with trusted advisors—especially those who have their own businesses—and see if they can help further flesh out needs and determine the best path for success," says Jacinto. Their advice and experience can help make your transition easier.
Take time for self-care.
Starting a business is no easy feat. And while there is lots (and lots) to do, Crawford says it's important to take some time for yourself, too. That might mean an exercise class, meditation, or more family time. Whatever it is, just make sure the activity eases, rather than creates, stress.
Set aside some money.
You want your business to be a success, but the reality is that many new businesses fail within the first few years, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One way you can make sure your business succeeds is by setting aside a reservoir of cash you can use in case the business doesn't take off as anticipated. Jacinto recommends having "six months of runway."