Let’s face it: we can’t all love our nine to fives. Frankly, many of us don’t even like our jobs, and some of us flat out dread them. If, like many employees, you know you’re capable of more, have a great idea that you want to turn into a reality, or simply want to break away from the monotony to be your own boss, you’re not alone.
Plenty of people have broken away from limiting full-time jobs—or even college, like Bill Gates—and worked their way into successful entrepreneurship. But before you hang your freedom flag, there are 7 important steps you need to take to prepare.
1. Prepare Financially
Dreams are great, and goals are crucial. And, yes, the freedom to work when and how you want to is sweet. But remember that those goals won’t become realities overnight.
You’ll have to send out huge amounts of e-mails, create a portfolio of work or draft a business plan, and make a painstakingly large amount of webpages for yourself before the clients—and the money—start trickling in.
For that reason, you’ll need to hang onto that day job—sorry—until you have an absolute minimum of six months of living expenses saved. Prepare as if you’ll have no income for at least six months, and you’ll be able to focus all of your energy on building your business or marketing your big idea instead of worrying about rent.
2. Prepare to Cut Back
Once you have that money saved, make sure you’re prepared to live conservatively. Figure out where to get the cheapest groceries. Sell your brand new car for a more affordable one. Ditch that fancy gym for your local low-fee chain. The longer you can stretch out those savings, the better.
3. Prepare Your Mindset
Building a business or selling a big idea isn’t an hour-a-day gig at the start. It takes tenacity, resilience, energy, and devotion. Do you care enough about your goal to keep the motivation flowing even in the face of rejection? Are you in a place where you can accept failures as an opportunity to grow—and, eventually, succeed?
You’ll need to be able to remind yourself, day after day, that you can do this. But, more than anything, you’ll need to believe in what you’re trying to do. So, you want to make money creating stationary designs. Great—but why?
If the answer is “to make money”, that goal won’t sustain you. You need to figure out how your business brings value to both you and others. Then you must remind yourself of it, constantly, to keep yourself motivated. Think more along the lines of, “Great designs help businesses gain client confidence, and I want to help others achieve their dreams.” That’s what motivation looks like.
4. Be Ready for Challenges
They will come. Often. You’ll need to get in the habit of saying, “Okay. I have a problem. What are my options?” instead of hitting the panic button. Business owners are also decision makers. Practice poise, patience, and inner peace—it’ll do you wonders when that first “uh-oh” pops up.
5. Get Organized
The surest way to induce startup terror is to forget what you have to do or where you put things. Your bedroom can be a mess, but your business should glisten. To-do lists, lists of prospects and contact dates, and an alphabetized documents folder on your computer will prove to be lifesavers.
6. Avoid Distractions
Running your own business is nothing like working for someone else. Unlike in an office setting, you often only make money when you produce something—you don’t get paid for the time you spend checking e-mails, browsing Facebook, or catching up with friends. In the world of entrepreneurship, time is truly money, and both are incredibly valuable as you build your brand from the ground up.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Sell Yourself
It’s the only way to succeed. Remember that you are just as much your “product” as your product is. Figure out what makes what you offer special —or create something if there isn’t anything yet—and market it relentlessly. If you believe in who you are and what you’re doing and can transfer that enthusiasm to others, success is closer than you think.