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Three Things You Must Do Before You Quit Your Day Job

Thinking about quitting your day job to pursue your dream of opening your own business? That's the stuff dreams are made could be the captain of your own ship, never having to answer to anyone ever again. But, if you go forward and your idea is a big bust...then what?

If you’re contemplating leaving your day job then these scenarios are likely playing out endlessly in your mind. Your decision-making process might be made easier if you can check a few items off of your ‘Quit Your Day Job’ to-do list before you actually quit your day job.

1. Test Your Idea Before Quitting Your Day Job

Don’t quit your day job until you prove to yourself that your business idea is a good idea. Entrepreneurs are a passionate bunch of people and that type of enthusiasm can be a slippery slope, sometimes serving to convince oneself beyond doubt that success is imminent. Talking up your idea to your friends and family is a great way to initially vet your idea, but drinking your own KoolAid® is a problem.

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What you really need are some cold, hard facts to back up your premise that the business idea is good. The facts come from either having incredible, in-depth knowledge from years of experience in that particular field or from testing your idea. Testing your idea allows you to prove that your theory might really be a good idea. You can do this by putting your concept in front of people and listening to their feedback on your product’s usefulness and pricing. Create a simple prototype and give it away for free to your friends and family. You can quickly assess the value of your idea and, if necessary, do what we in the software business fondly refer to as a ‘pivot’. It’s a polite way of saying the idea is not working and needs a change of direction, pronto. Refine it if you can. Let it go if you must.

2. Know How Much Net Profit Your New Business Will Generate

Launching a business requires expending a lot of time, energy and money over the course of several years. Convince yourself that your product or service is actually something that will return a worthwhile net profit before taking on this colossal challenge. Accurately forecasting profit is tough, even when you’re an accountant. One way you can solve this problem is by using Enloop, a free online solution that automatically generates a customized business plan with complete financial forecasts. The system also provides a predictive score that can help you understand whether your idea is solid enough to pursue.

Don’t spend too much time developing a business plan. Think of it as a living, cloud-based document that you can refine as you gather more feedback.

3. Have a Backup Plan if your Business Fails

Putting a safety net plan in place before you leave your job can help on a lot of levels. Many people choose to stay put from fear of the unknown. Having a personal ‘pivot plan’ can get you beyond that stopping point. Even if you’ve done your due diligence and have ample evidence that your products and services might have real value, there are factors outside of your control that may cause your business to not succeed. For a brutal example, witness the latest economic downturn that forced so many good businesses to close their doors. Reduce your debt, get rid of as many bills as you can and stock away as much cash as you can muster before you resign. When you’re ready, give as much advanced notice as possible to your employer. Don’t burn any bridges that you might need to cross back over if you’re not successful.

Managing passion is a big challenge for an entrepreneur when that loud sound in their head is opportunity knocking. Practice being that successful business owner you’re envisioning and let the facts be as much of a guide as your heart is in making this first decision.

©SamplePlan, Inc. This article may not be reprinted without permission.
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