Marla Tabaka


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How Do I Know When It’s Time to Leave My Job?

So you want to become an entrepreneur, do you? It’s important enough to you that you’re willing to leave your full time job, possibly a nice benefits package, and the daily routine all behind. Let me guess. It’s about freedom. The freedom to do what you want, when you want, and to make all the money that you desire. The freedom to work at the nearest coffee shop (as I am now) and to take the kids to school and be there when they get home. The freedom to help others in your own way and make a difference in the world. That’s what it boils down to for most entrepreneurs, and yes, it can be like that – but you may also be leaving a job to create a job with no benefits, lower pay, and more hours than you’ve ever worked in your life.

So, how can you build the business of your dreams without sacrificing that all-important thirst for freedom? Timing, planning, and a realistic view of your financial resources; these are the most important pieces. So, if you think you’re ready to leave your job, or want to know when the time is right, use this checklist as your guide.

  1. Have you done your research? How have you tested your business model? How do you know that you have a viable product or service? Do some market research. Research your competitors; how long have they been around? What will you do differently and better? What makes your business special? I know that YOU make it special, but not everyone knows you. How will you stand apart from the rest? Test your model with a panel of friends, peers, and total strangers. It’s best to ask a third party to be responsible for this focus group testing so that people will provide honest feedback. Your friends will tell you whatever they think you want to hear. Research marketing and advertising venues as well. The “Build it and They Shall Come” belief-system is great if you’re a true believer in Law of Attraction, but even then, you have to act. If you need more questions than answers, a professional life coach or business life coach specializing in entrepreneurs can help take your business to the next level.
  2. Do a Breakeven Analysis: If you don’t know how, go to your S.C.O.R.E. office and get help. It’s critical to have a guideline to follow to know how long your financial resources will last and what your targets are in terms of client base, sales, and numbers.
  3. Money, Money, Money: Have enough of it to fund your marketing plan and live on for AT LEAST one year, but preferably three years. Under capitalized businesses ALWAYS fail. Yours will not be the exception. Depending on the business model, you may not achieve your breakeven point for 2-3 years.
  4. Are You an Entrepreneur or a Technician? Depending on your financial situation, it may be important to save money and perform as much of the nuts and bolts work yourself as possible. But remember, you must know how to market your business AND create and implement plans for growth. You can’t do these things if you’re behind the desk all day providing a service and updating your website. Get contractors in place even if money is tight – invest in your business. Hire someone to do the books and a VA to do admin work. Your investment will come back to you ten-fold if you spend that time marketing, strategizing and growing as an entrepreneur and a business.
  5. Get a Babysitter! If you have small children you probably fantasize about being available to them 24/7 when you begin to work from home. Think about what’s best for them, you, and your business. If you are constantly interrupted it’s not beneficial to you, your kids, or your business. Sure, schedule time to do the fun stuff, but give your business the attention it deserves as well. Your kids will be happier playing with a babysitter or going to pre-school and spending QUALITY time with you. Don’t make the mistake of saving on childcare when you leave your f/t job. There are creative ways to do that, but working sporadically on your business isn’t the answer. You must have uninterrupted time and lots of it.

There’s more, much more. But the 5-points above are a good start. When you have these things in place, and a good business model is ready to go, you may be ready to say good-bye to the 8-5 commitment. Just remember, building your business is more than an 8-5 commitment. If you do it right, you’ll work fewer and fewer hours as time goes by and that’s worth working toward. It’s a wonderful experience and a dream come true. It needs roots and a foundation; once you build that you and it will flourish!

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Tags: business, entrepeneur, research

One Response to “How Do I Know When It’s Time to Leave My Job?”

  1. April 19th, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Des Walsh says:

    Excellent advice, Marla, with a checklist people should study with care. It’s good that you counsel having the finance in place to manage the first couple of years. Apart from anything else, prospective clients can tell when we are more anxious to sell our services (so we can pay those bills) than to listen to what they really want and then decide carefully whether you can provide that, for what price, on what conditions etc.

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