When I left my cushy corporate consulting job to start my own PR and marketing agency, I had been freelancing for a while so I had some side income but it wasn’t anywhere what I was making in my full-time job. Yet, as I made it through the first year, I realized that my journey wasn’t as difficult as it could’ve been if I didn’t prepare and have the right systems in place.
To help make your leap from the corporate world to your dream creative start-up or small business less scary, we put together this list of the top things you need to do to maximize your chances of success. Just know that you’re not alone. Over a million Americans do it every year.
You need to have the right mindset and be committed to making your new venture work. If you are paralyzed by risk-taking and the fear of failure, then self-employment may not be right for you.
Eliminate the thought that you need to have a master’s degree in business. I can speak from experience here – as someone who has always valued higher education and went to NYU for a fancy master’s degree in marketing – it really hasn’t helped me run and grow my business.
Make sure you have enough resources to start, launch, and grow your business. And more importantly, make sure you have enough resources to live on during the launch process – you may not be able to take a salary for several months or even a year.
Do you have a business plan? Do you know who your target audiences are? Do you know if there’s a viable market for what you want to offer? To minimize risk, you need to have a business plan and understand the key characteristics of your target audience.
If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then you should know how to network with people both in and out of your industry. Attend relevant networking events in your town. Connect with influencers and thought leaders online and via social media. And most importantly, find a mentor – someone that can help guide you from corporate employee to entrepreneur.
Start developing healthy habits because entrepreneurship is no walk in the park, and it requires your attention most hours of the day (especially in the beginning stages). Make sure you have a regular schedule, eat well, and exercise. You’ll also want to try to have some type of work/life balance, even if it’s only taking off Sunday evenings to spend with the family or friends.
Understand that in the beginning, you might have to do everything yourself from accounting to web design, especially if you don’t have extra resources. But after the first year or two, you’ll be able to hire the right people for the right job.
Know that you’ll be the boss and all of the responsibility will be yours. You need to be prepared to deal with that level of accountability. Although it’s very liberating, it’s also stressful.
Try to learn as much as you can about running a business and your industry before you leave your corporate gig.
Being flexible is one of the most important qualities to have when you’re an entrepreneur. You need to know how to adapt to new situations, deal with changing industry currents, and in your thinking.