Everyone who thinks about starting a business is coming from a different place. Some are driven by a big idea they had for a product or service, and they just can’t let go of it. That’s usually a good sign. Some have spouses or kids to consider. Others have socked away a little money to get started, but many haven’t. They’re bootstrappers.
The one thing almost everyone considering entrepreneurship has in common is a job—and one of the questions I’m asked most often is, how one should transition from working for someone else’s company to starting their own.
It’s difficult to break away. And it’s not just because of the money and perks your job may offer (a steady paycheck, vacation time, healthcare benefits, maybe a company car or some other perk you’ve come to enjoy). It’s a question of your personal programming.
You see, society trains us—through the education system, the media and even our parents—to seek out the comfort and “security” that comes from having someone else pay for the use of our time. Everyone expects you to grow up and get a job, so it’s just a matter of time until you do what’s expected of you.
In exchange for working a set number of hours every week, you get a fixed rate of dollars per hour. And maybe some benefits. That’s pretty much it. If you do a particularly good job (and excel at office politics) maybe you’ll get a promotion that includes a small pay increase and a fancier-sounding title. And you’ll feel good about it … at least for a while.
A Nagging Temptation
What happens as you move up the ladder, though, is you start seeing how things work. You realize that in business, there’s no such thing as job security.
Then you’ll start hearing stories about old friends from school, or maybe a former co-worker, who went off and started businesses of their own—and they’re doing really great now. You should congratulate them.
Or, maybe you’ll turn on the TV and hear about some budding entrepreneur who turned his back on an Ivy League education to pursue some crazy idea for a mobile app—and now he’s a billionaire.
It’s only natural for you to start wondering if you could achieve something similar. Maybe not a mobile app or a social network per se because technology’s not your thing. But something online that wouldn’t keep you chained to an office all day (or stuck in rush-hour traffic) would be ideal.
You see some kind of online business on the internet and decide to give it a try. You like it and you commit to it and you stick with it until—finally—you’ve achieved a level of success that begs the question: Should I quit my job and do this full-time?
Need to Know
You’re at a crossroads now because you understand that, even though there’s no such thing as job security, there is security in a steady paycheck. Yes, you stand to make a lot more money if you’re successful in business, but in the life of an entrepreneur there are no guarantees whatsoever.
Here’s the way I see it: No one ever built a great company by dipping their toe in the water, or only giving it a couple hours a day after their “real” job. That kind of approach isn’t very serious, and it’s definitely not sustainable. You need to go all-in if you want to achieve real, life-altering results—and a lot of people have trouble comprehending this message.
Voice of Experience
I can tell you what worked for me. Basically, I reached the point in my business where I either had to get in or get out—because having a part-time commitment just wasn’t working. It was a lesson I’d been learning the hard way, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
So, I made the call to put my business above everything else in my life. The next day, I went down to the university I was attending and told them I was putting my studies on hold. I gave up my side jobs (even though they were bringing in money) because I knew I had to be building my business on a full-time basis. It had to be all or nothing.
And it wasn’t easy. My office was a desk in the corner of my bedroom—and those were some of the longest days I can recall.
Burn the Bridges
With school and my side ventures behind me, I decided to remove all safety nets from my life, including the $435 Australian I was receiving from the government every two weeks for being a struggling student.
It was a bold move because I needed that money to cover my rent and food at the time, but I felt very strongly that I needed that extra pressure in order for my business to succeed. Kind of like a trapeze artist working without a net—I’d either fly through the air or go splat.
Fortunately, I was right. Almost immediately I noticed that the way I was thinking about my business had changed; my thinking was sharper, I was more committed and far more driven to succeed—because I had to be. What choice did I have?
Of course, it took some time. Things were bumpy at first, but I always managed to get by. I think when you’re in that situation, you always find the money for the things you truly need. You always make it work, one way or another.
Then, sure enough, my business was working. The sales started coming in on a regular basis. I even started feeling comfortable again—and that’s when things really started taking off. In December 2011, I made $45,000 in a single month, which was more money than I ever made in my life. And things went up and up and up from that point forward.
Don’t Look Back
Quitting your job to start a business is never an easy decision to make, but you can’t move forward until you make that call for yourself.
If you’re happy working a job and having a hobby on the side, then stay put and dabble with it after hours. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But if you seriously want to build a business that could pay you five or six figures per month, then you need to fully commit yourself and say, “I am going to do this until I achieve my goals, no matter what.” That’s how all major victories are won.
The good news is that, once you have this level of commitment, almost nothing can stand in your way. That’s a good thing, too, because the challenges you’ll encounter on the way to reaching your goals will test your mettle on a daily basis. Your resolve to overcome them at all costs is what will drive you to the next level.