During my years working at Corporate America I always knew I wanted to start my own business, so I read the business books and watched the Shark Tank episodes but that just gave me knowledge, I knew I had to get some real world experience to help me transition my mind from an employee mindset to an entrepreneur so I started to network and test out different business ideas. Now working on my startup ezClocker full time I look back and find I did many things right but also some missed opportunities that I wish someone told me about when I was an employee thinking about starting a business.
While we all dream about leaving our 9-5 job to pursue our dreams there are many things we can do to help us prepare for the big jump. Here are some tips on how you can get ready to make your move:
Joining several networking groups and attending events helps you meet fellow entrepreneurs and get exposure to a different environment than the one you’ve been used to as an employee. These events allow you to stay motivated and to build relationships. Use these network events to connect with potential customers, find your future co-founders, or just to have a place to exchange ideas and get a fresh perspective.
Build your prototype
If you can create your prototype and test it with real customers while working a day job that would be ideal. This will give you a jump start when you make the leap to full time entrepreneurship. Creating a minimum viable product (MVP) as most startups know doesn’t have to cost a lot and by validating your idea it will give you the confidence to leave your 9-5 job to work on something that has a high chance of success.
Can’t emphasis this enough, you need to save money, a lot of money because no matter how much you budget for building your startup it will take longer and cost more than you estimated. Most people save for 6-12 months of living expenses but I suggest 2 years worth of savings if you can. Because even if your startup starts to bring in some revenue you want to hold off on paying yourself as long as you can in order to grow your company with the money that’s coming in.
Build it and they will come, is a myth. It takes a lot of effort to get your name out and to attract customers, something I learned the hard way. While working full time pick a product, could be anything and learn how to market it. Learn concepts like SEO, blogging, reaching out to influencers, and cost per click. There is a lot to learn about marketing which you can practice when working full time.
Develop Public Speaking skills:
A a business owner it’s important to be comfortable to get in front of people and talk about your company and what you have to offer but also to be viewed as an expert so people can trust you and your brand. I underestimated the importance of this skill when presenting and pitching our startup. If you are like me who hates public speaking, a great resource is ToastMasters where they have club chapters available throughout the United States at a very affordable price. ToastMasters has helped me develop my speaking skills and something you can easily do while working a full time job.
It takes a lot of courage to leave something stable and start a business from scratch but if you can maximize the time you have while working full time you’ll develop the skills and tools you need to succeed and as Benjamin Franklin said once “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.