Leaving Your Job To Start A Business? Check Out These 15 Tips

The thought of leaving a job to start a new business can be incredibly exciting, and many professionals have done just that in recent years. However, even with the easier access to expert business advice and tools for customer engagement that the internet offers, dropping a stable income to launch your own company is a risky move that doesn’t always lead to success. 

If you’re considering leaving your current job to start your own business, you may need some guidance to help you weigh all of the pros and cons before making the leap. Luckily, 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council share their top pieces of advice on this subject below. See their tips to give yourself the best chances of finding success. 

1. Look Before You Leap

Understand that entrepreneurship is attractive, but what makes it memorable and successful is the appropriate preparation and planning. So, my advice is to ensure you have built the proper structure and systems to support your journey. Before you leave your job, know and validate your “why.” Understand how your interest can be maximized, and find mentors to shadow. – Dr. Flo Falayi, Korn Ferry

2. Try Selling A Service Before A Product

It’s easier to start a service business than a product business because you can start selling services (your time) and quickly generate revenue. Alternatively, product businesses are more valuable; however, they are typically capital-intensive to launch. Businesses evolve, so don’t be afraid to sell services now and then use the revenue stream to fund a pivot to a more productized offering over time. – Glenn Grant, Selfassembled Ventures

3. Prepare A Realistic Financial Runway

What’s your risk tolerance and financial runway? It often takes three to five years to build a thriving, sustainable business. Many fail due to lack of capital. When I launched my own business, I had two years of salary in the bank, so I could focus on the business and growth. If I couldn’t succeed within 12 to 24 months, that would be enough to test my viability. I’m proud to say that was 20 years ago. – Jodie Charlop, Exceleration Partners

4. Test Your Passion For The Business

Start working on your business idea while you still have a job. If you don’t take the time during the evening and on weekends to work on your side hustle, then you probably don’t feel strongly enough about it. Start having an “affair” with your future business. If you can’t do that, then you would be better off not putting your “marriage”—which is your full-time job—at risk. – Vinesh Sukumaran, Vinesh Sukumaran Consulting

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?

5. Test Your Business As A Side Hustle

Test your business as a side hustle to refine your mission, define your target audience and navigate the roadblocks you will encounter in your first year of entrepreneurship. Use the extra money to pay off excess debt, or put it away in savings. The fewer bills you have, the easier it is to focus on your business and not chase clients just to make ends meet. – Don Pippin, area|Talent

6. Have A Flexible Plan And Budget

Have a plan and a budget and know that both will change. There is no crystal ball to help you start your own business, and you need to be prepared for the tides to change often. While the journey is always rewarding if you believe in what you are doing, it is never predictable. – Melanie Towey, Melanie Anne, LLC

7. Depart With Grace And Kindness

Know this: Past employers and business partners have the potential to become some of your most loyal customers and evangelists. Give plenty of notice. Be transparent about your reason for leaving. Finish all of your deliverables. Depart with grace and kindness. Tend to the contacts you’ve cultivated over the years, and let them know how to reach you! – Scott Singer, Insider Career Strategies

8. Make Sure People Will Pay For What You’re Selling

Although it sounds terribly basic, make sure people are willing to pay for what you are selling. I have seen many instances of people starting businesses without a specific strategy for success. Is it something that a broad number of people need or want? Will they buy from an individual? Will they pay what you think you’ll need to make the strategy work? Just because it is a great idea to you doesn’t mean the answer to each of those questions will be “yes.” – Steve Steff, Transforming Leadership

9. Have A Plan To Avoid Cash Crunches

Make sure you have a plan to avoid cash crunches. Starting a business is stressful; it can start slow and you can face cash crunches even during growth periods. Always know where you can get money if you need it. Be willing to hunt down any money owed to you. – Jacquelyn Van Tuyl, Jacquelyn Van Tuyl International

10. Shadow A Successful Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurially shadow someone, or a company, doing what you want to do or something close to it. Too many enthusiastic entrepreneurs ignore this tactic, and it is a tactic. Just as you would intern for a job in your last year of college, why not “intern” or shadow a successful entrepreneur if they will let you? You will get the reality check/punch in the gut you need before you jump into the risk. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.

11. Anchor Your First Client Quickly

Find your first client quickly and spend enough energy to anchor them effectively while you prospect for others. The benefit of this is that you are generating income from a client who will value you, be an advocate for your business, and extoll your benefits and expertise in places where leads can materialize. It’s also a great way to transition away from a paycheck and toward something that may be variable but can be solidified quickly. – Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory

12. Get To Know Your Ideal Client In Detail

Do your market research and get to know who your ideal client is in in-depth detail. Understand who they are, what they need and the language they use to define it, then tailor your offerings to their needs. And finally, start your business while you’re still employed (if allowed). Costs soon pile up if you have no steady income to support you and your new business, so consider going part-time if it helps. – Victoria Canham, Ahead Together Ltd

13. Clarify Your Motivations And Desired Outcomes

I would recommend being clear about the motivations of the business you are starting and what outcomes you are looking for. Success in managing a new business requires the confluence of multiple factors, including industry opportunities, the viability of the business plan and the value proposition of the offering. Staying motivated and being resilient will help one stay the course. – Thomas Lim, Singapore Public Service, SportSG

14. Start Your Business Before You Leave 

Don’t wait to leave your current job before starting your own business; start it while you still have it. Dedicate whatever time you have available to starting the business and see if it is viable, scalable and something that you will enjoy doing full-time. You have heard of a side hustle—this is exactly what you need to start doing now! – Rakish Rana, The Clear Coach

15. Have A Clear Vision And Mission For Your Venture

Have a clear vision and mission for your new venture that resonates with purpose. There will be times of success but also difficulty when starting your own business, so ensure that you have a foundation that can keep you focused. This will assist you in developing your game plan as well as determining the audience you wish to attract. Lastly, it will build a strong foundation from which to launch your success. – Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space


Christin Hakim

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