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Mar 08 2013

When to Start Working For Yourself

Category: GeneralMyles Calvert @ 10:44 am

There’s an old saying that I call on whenever I’m asked to give a young person career advice: Find something you love to do, then find a way to get paid for doing it. I fully realize the door I’m opening for jokes with that line, bring it on!

It makes complete sense. Why so many of us work at a job we don’t like is a question I’ll leave it to those much smarter than I. However what I can attempt to answer for you, is when (and by extension, how) to make the jump from your day job to your own business.

Let’s use Susan as an example. Susan is an office manager at a local machine repair shop. She has a wonderful personality which makes her well suited for the role, and while she cares about her job and her co-workers, Susan couldn’t care less about machine repair. When asked what she would do if she had all the money she wanted and didn’t have to work, it was quickly learned that she loves to cook and organize parties. Her friends and family rave about her skills in the kitchen and as a planner. A light bulb went off, Susan would make a great caterer and event planner.

How does she make the leap from her day job to working for herself?

  1. Start small.
    Start looking for more opportunities to provide your service to friends & family, whether you’re getting paid for it or not. It’s important to build up a core of people who not only know about your skills, but are happy to spread the word. Spend more of your evenings and weekends building an army of walking and breathing advertisements.
  2. Don’t quit your day job.
    At least not right away. Probably not a great idea to make the leap as soon as you figure out what it is you truly want to do. Imagine you’re stuck in a freezing igloo and suddenly learn that a warmer climate is in a specific direction. You wouldn’t stand up and start running that way, you would take some time to dress properly, pack a sufficient bag and plan your route before setting off. Basically, look before you leap! Patience.
  3. GROW!
    While working during the day to pay the bills, push forward with your side business on your free time. Develop a business plan, come up with a name, determine what materials you’ll need, start a website (I hear the guys at Tenpine are great to work with *wink wink*), establish your pricing, spread the word!
  4. Save $
    If all goes well, there should be a couple months when you’re a non stop working machine. Bruce Wayne during the day, Batman during the night. It will be challenging, but if you’ve found the right path, it should also be enjoyable. During this stretch, save up as much money as possible to use as a float for when you’re ready to make the leap.
    Here’s the exciting part. Like a driver learning to use stick down shifting for the first time, it must be timed exactly right otherwise you risk stalling out. You don’t want to leap too early before you’ve grown enough and risk running out of funds and having to slink back to your day job. Get up to the right speed and go for it. You might tumble, you might take a step back, but slowing down temporarily is all part of going to a higher gear.

The best part of all this? If your first idea fizzles out in steps 3 or 4, just go back to the drawing board and come up with a new idea and try again.


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