“Quit your job” isn’t advice you hear very often; however, it just may be some of the greatest advice you will ever receive. Working a full-time position that you dread going to everyday is no way to live. Many people spend most of their day at work, and that can be depressing if you don’t enjoy what you do.
The first step to building a career you love is to figure out what you love. Do you have a secret passion that you work on in your spare time? Are you already making money from your catering or graphic design skills? If you’ve been in business for a while—maybe you have a few regular clients or have been selling on Etsy—it may be time to take the next step. Side projects can easily become full-time careers with a little legwork and a lot of determination.
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, there are a few tips that will make your entrance into entrepreneurship much smoother. Leaving the world of 9 to 5 can be a little scary, but taking the risk to do what you love can make you happier.
Not every hobby can create a product or service that will generate income. You have to look at what you are good at (and like to do), and find a way to turn it into something valuable. A business can’t be successful if the product or service isn’t worth anything to customers. Before you take the jump into entrepreneurship, look to see if there is a market for your business.
Are other companies doing what you want to do? Are they successful? What do you have to offer that is new or different? How do your prices compare to similar businesses? Research the competition to get a feel for how successful your business will be. You’ll also need to get licenses, decide where and how you’re going to sell, and purchase any materials or supplies you need to get started.
Take It Slow
Don’t quit your full-time job and try to start a business the next day. You need to ease into it. Before you quit your job, start building business and find your market. Ask your current clients for referrals. Go to trade shows or craft fairs and get your product and your brand out there. Test the waters, see how customers respond, and ease into things.
You may need to work a job for a little while. Keep your full-time job as you start a business you love. Start making plans for your business on weekends or in the evenings after work. Once you’re confident that you can earn enough to support your growing business, and yourself, go full speed ahead, and say goodbye to the cubicle or corner office.
Make Marketing a Priority
Any new business has to generate customers. Begin marketing as soon as you possibly can. Tell your friends on Facebook about your new business and ask them to share your posts. Post photos of your new products on Instagram. Create flyers and leave them on parked cars. Invest in paid search marketing. Pass out business cards to everyone you meet.
Be strategic in your efforts—if you’re in the photography business, for example, you may want to ask to put up posters in local bakeries or set up a partnership with a wedding planner. If you’re a landscaping professional, you may want to partner with nurseries or hardware stores … 0r take out an ad in a local lawn and garden magazine.
It takes money to make money. To start a business you will need funding for products, marketing, and supplies. Before you quit working 9-5, begin building your savings. Even if you feel like you can’t work at your job one more day, stick it out and create a little bit of extra cash. This is helpful just in case your new business crashes and burns—you’ll still be able to eat. If your savings isn’t going to get you all of the way there, you can look at other funding options.
A small business loan is a common method for getting cash to necessary to grow your business. If you qualify and know you can make your monthly payments, this may be a good option to get up and running. It can, however, be hard to qualify for a business loan. Traditional banks will need to see a business plan and plenty of documentation. If the bank rejects you for a loan, or you need money asap, look at alternative lending options such as merchant cash advances and lines of credit.
For example, with a cash advance, you can repay what you owe when you make sales. Payments are linked to your credit card receivables, and money from sales is automatically applied back to your loan. This is a safe way to pay back a loan if your business starts out slower than you are anticipating.
Another option is looking for investors. Ask your family and friends to invest in your business, or ask who they know who would be willing to invest in your business. When seeking out investors, be prepared to show them your product and your business plan or pitch deck. Explain successes you have already had and what you’re going to do with their investment. You should also agree on any terms—will the investor get a controlling vote in the company? How much of a return is he or she expecting? Are they willing to stand by you when business is slow?
Reap the Benefits
It can be difficult to trust yourself enough to believe in your own business. However, there are many perks that come with branching out on your own. In the beginning, you may have to work more than 40 hours a week. It takes a lot of work to get your business bringing in money.
The good news is that after things get rolling, working for yourself can open up your life. You make your own schedule. If you need to take time off for a family event, you can do it. If you have children you need to work around, you can make it work. Often, you can get to the point of working fewer hours than a typical 9-5 job.
If your dream startup does, in fact, crash and burn, the dream is not over. It may take some time to create a successful business. You may need to take a few steps along the way to reach your destination. Don’t give up. You can love your work.
Are you doing what you love? What’s your advice for how to get there?
Mark Cerminaro is the chief revenue officer at RapidAdvance, a leader in alternative financing. Mark has spent his career advising business owners on investments and helping them access the capital they need to grow. Connect with @Rapid_Advance on Twitter.