Wouldn’t it be great if Oprah showed up at your door tomorrow with a check for $100,000 to use to quit your job and start your business tomorrow?
If that’s your master plan for going from employee to entrepreneur, in the words of Aerosmith “Dream On!”
Unless you have a brilliant tech start-up idea and an even more amazing pitch, no angel investor is going to show up to finance your entrepreneurial journey. If you are serious about starting a profitable sustainable business, here are my top tips for going from employee to entrepreneur in 2013.
Tip #1: Choose a Profitable Business Idea
There’s a lot of talk out there about launching a passion – based business. I am all for doing work that you are passionate about, but if you are going to base a business around what you love, you’ve got to find a business model that allows for sustainable profitability. In most cases it involves taking a creative approach to matching what you love or are interested in with a problem that needs to be solved – more specifically, a problem that people will pay you to solve. Otherwise you end up with a hobby or pseudo-business. A pseudo-business has all the look of a real business (business cards, website, social networking accounts) but no paying customers or clients.
Tip #2: Invest Time in Developing Your Entrepreneurial Muscle
One of my favorite shows is #SharkTank, ever watch it? Every week there’s at least one or more contestants pitching Barbara, Mark or Daymond (my three favorite Sharks) a business idea that they are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about. Enthusiasm is a must for an entrepreneur – if you don’t believe in your product or service, no one else will, but you also have to know what it takes to turn your idea into a real live money-making business.
Researching your market, understanding the industry you want to enter, having real projections for expenses and revenue , and being realistic about pricing and scalability – these are just a few critical components of your business plan that can hurt you if they are overlooked. They may not be the most fun topics, but along with the fundamental questions your business plan needs to answer, they can be the difference between successfully transitioning to full-time entrepreneurship and heartbreak at having invested your time and savings in a poorly planned venture.
Tip #3: Use Technology Like an Entrepreneur
Lots of people have crossed the digital divide by joining the masses on Facebook, using smart phones, or even starting a personal blog. But there’s a difference in using technology as a consumer and learning to use social media and other digital technology and tools like an entrepreneur. Social networking is a game changer for emerging entrepreneurs. When used strategically it is a gateway to access the information, ideas, and people that can help you build a profitable business.
Online and mobile tools are integral to building a business if you are launching while working. They can help you automate tasks and give you the ability to check-in with projects, clients, and vendors anytime you are able. Using the right technology to launch and build your business means you work smarter, not harder to go from employee to entrepreneur.
Tip #4: Launch While Working
As a former employedpreneur (a full-time employee with a side business) I am a huge advocate for launching while working. If it was good enough for Sarah Blakely, the Forbes listed self-made billionaire and founder of Spanx, it’s good enough for me – and you, too.
There are several benefits to launching while working, especially if you have a family to support. In this path to entrepreneurship, your day job funds your start up. And depending on the type of company you work for, your day job can help prepare you for being your own boss. Want to learn how to market your business? Look for or create opportunities to work with your company’s marketing department. Need to sharpen your web design or blogging skills? Then volunteer for projects that will let you build on those skills at work.
Remember – you don’t have to quit your day job to launch your business. Wise want-to-be entrepreneurs launch on the side and create a solid exit strategy that prepares them to launch while working.
Tai Goodwin is editor-in-chief of LaunchWhileWorking.com, co-host of #SmallBizChat, and founder of Launchology 101 (social media marketing consulting and training). Ready to start a profitable business on the side? Grab a free copy of 12 Steps to Start a Business without Quitting Your Day Job and you too can launch while working.
This article is from the SmallBizLady special blog series: 31 Ways to Boost Your Small Business in 2013. #Boost2013
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