Many mums I speak with ask me how I got the courage to quit my cushy corporate job and embrace the financial uncertainty of starting my own business.
The truth is that I did not make the transition overnight. I took baby steps toward my goal.
I knew for a very long time that I wanted to be my own boss one day. I wanted the freedom to do something that I truly loved on my own terms, create financial prosperity, and have the flexibility to enjoy time for myself and my family.
Still, I stayed in the corporate world for nearly 7 years before finally making the leap. I'm quite risk averse, you see, so I decided to first investigate what it actually means to build and run a business.
As a former equity research analyst covering Small & Midcap companies, I had gained good insights on how to grow a profitable business. But I still felt that I was lacking in-depth knowledge of business day-to-day operations, and so I decided to do an MBA.
It was around that time that I became very interested in the coaching and information products industry. With a lifelong passion for personal development, packaging my expertise as a coach and online marketer felt like the natural next step in my career.
I started avidly purchasing and studying online trainings and coaching programs from other successful entrepreneurs, teaching me how to create my own business from scratch.
After thousands of dollars spent, I knew it was time to leap from the ladder, but I was scared. I had just had my daughter, and leaving the safety net of my corporate salary gave me the chills.
On the one hand, I felt it would be selfish and irresponsible to let go of my financial security. On the other hand, I felt guilty to drop-off my baby at daycare to spend my days in an unfulfilling job.
Invariably, I would return home frustrated and exhausted. Worse, I was beating myself up for the not setting an empowering example for my daughter that she can be and create whatever she desires in the world and enjoy the life of her dreams.
Eventually my stress levels got to a point that I needed to make a choice. I knew that unless I removed the safety net, I would never find-out what I could achieve...
So I hired my first business coach to give me confidence, and I nervously handed-in my notice, leaving behind the certainty of a corporate salary.
It wasn't a sudden decision. It was a well-calculated risk that both my husband and I chose to take. But we both knew that the emotional and financial rewards from starting my own business exceeded by far the perks that a corporate job could ever offer me.
If you've been thinking about becoming an entrepreneur but you're afraid of losing your financial independence, the good news is: you don't have to wait 7 years, like I did. You can fast-track your business dreams by taking these 3 essential steps.
Step 1: Research your market
Before writing your resignation letter, get crystal clear on your business idea and research your market thoroughly. Many people skip this step, and that's why 90% of startups fail, according to Forbes.
Start by listing at least 10 industry peers and google them thoroughly. Understand their business model and their positioning. What do they sell? What's their message? How are they making money?
Leverage your network and reach-out to them if you can. Request an interview. Ask them what sort of capital they needed to launch their businesses. What kind of rates can a beginner expect to charge? Enquire about any pitfalls and ask for their advice.
Then, if you still wish to venture in that sector, list at least 10 potential customers and tell them about your business idea. Ask them what their biggest frustrations and aspirations are regarding your chosen topic. What would be an ideal solution they'd be willing to pay almost anything to get their hands on?
Step 2: Map-out your finances
By now, you should have a pretty good picture of how much money you'll need to invest to get your business off the ground, and how much money you'll realistically be able to make at the beginning. Time for some number crunching!
In order to quit your corporate job feeling calm and confident that you will succeed, it's important to be grounded in reality.
You must know exactly what income you need coming-in on a monthly basis to support yourself and your family, as well as invest in your business.
Open a new spreadsheet and list all your personal and household monthly expenses. If a certain amount isn't recurring (e.g. health insurance, gifts or travel), break it down to a monthly allowance based on how much you would spend over a year.
Then, list all your expected monthly business expenses in a separate sheet.
Add-up all the numbers.
This will give you a rough, conservative approximation of how much money you'll need to generate in your business post-tax.
Armed with this information, you can make a financial plan for your career transition from a more informed and responsible place.
Importantly, this number will also keep you on your toes as a new business owner, giving you a clear target to work toward every single month.
Step 3: Find a mentor
Although I knew a lot about business building by the time I quit my job, I still felt like I needed someone to hold my hand as I ventured in entrepreneurial waters for the first time.
That's why I decided to hire a business coach: to help me come-up with a plan to replace my corporate salary as soon as possible and ease my career transition.
By giving you honest feedback, support and advice, a more experienced mentor can save you precious time -- and money!
I know it can be scary to invest in yourself and your business at a high level when you're just starting out. But consider the return on your investment... What's the intrinsic value of your vision?
Ultimately, you need a certain level of hunger to to succeed in business and create the life you desire for yourself and your family. If you don't confront your fears and take calculated risks, you'll never achieve your lifestyle and business dreams.
You'll become a hobbyist, not a thriving businesswoman. Which one will you choose to be?