Turning your side gig into a full-time business
QUESTION: I have read probably all your columns, and as an entrepreneur, it’s really good to find local information and advice. I have just started an agricultural business and am still doing my daily job and it has been hard. I do not have enough time to properly focus on my business, and it has been suffering, however when I think of leaving my job, I think of all the responsibilities I have. I am not sure what to do at this point. Have you ever been at this stage?
BUSINESSWISE: Thank you for being a faithful reader, and I’m glad that you find the information and advice I share useful.
Yes, I have been at the stage where I needed to decide whether to leave a good-paying job, with good benefits and excellent prospects for advancement, to start a business.
For me, the decision was very easy. I didn’t have any concerns or reservations about failure because of a number of reasons, many of them quite personal, but which I am prepared to share because I believe it is important for aspiring entrepreneurs and others to understand the mindset, planning, sacrifice, and risks it takes to take a dream and build it into a business.
I was an entrepreneur at heart and believed my talents were being muted.
My attitude is that business is risky by nature and failing is often necessary on the journey to building a successful business. I was, therefore, open to it, embraced it, and was determined to bounce back in the event the business flopped.
I believed in the vision and potential of my business, and I was confident that there was a significant opportunity to be the pioneer of legal funding and litigant support in Jamaica.
I had post-graduate education and training, considerable work experience, and a track record of performance that I could rely on in the event that I failed. I was confident that I could easily find another job if needed to help me get back on my feet until the next opportunity.
I was married and my husband was operating a buoyant private practice, which could cover our basic needs in the event that the business was unsuccessful.
I had convinced my husband to sell our house, use some of the proceeds to finance the business and the remainder to fund the deposit on another property that could bring in just enough rental income to cover the mortgage payment, while we moved into a family home, where we had no big mortgage or major rental expenses to cover. This allowed us to minimise our living expenses even as we welcomed our first child.
QUITTING A DREAM JOB
I had considerable training and experience in risk management and knew that if I had properly identified the major risks and threats, planned for the things that could go wrong, and proactively managed those risks, I would increase the likelihood of succeeding.
When I discussed my plans to leave with my former boss, he was very encouraging and shared something that really resonated.
He said: “If I had to live my life over again I would probably do the same thing that you are doing. The thing about being in a job is that in order to be promoted, you need to work much harder and longer hours and the company owns practically all your time. Once you do get promoted, you upgrade your lifestyle in line with your earnings, but those earnings are just enough to keep you going from month to month.” It was great validation and motivation.
By now, you should realise that leaving a job to start a business is not something you do on a whim. You can reflect on my own journey and apply relevant lessons to your situation.
However, in determining your readiness for full-time entrepreneurship, please read my article titled ‘When To Leave Your Job to Start a Business – An 8-Point Guide’, which was published on August 24, 2014, and can be found at: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/business/20140824/when-leaveyour-job....
Other important considerations have to do with the industry you are in, your ability to identify sustainable and viable markets, manage praedial larceny, changing weather conditions, and other environmental factors beyond your control.
Ask yourself how you can use technology and new techniques to help you manage these risks and others before you resign.
My final point is that the potential of your business expands immensely once you are leading it and working on it full time. If you have done your due diligence, research, proper planning and preparations, the only regret you may have is not leaving sooner.
Yaneek Page is an entrepreneur and trainer and executive producer of The Innovators TV series. Email: yaneek.page@ gmail.com; Twitter: @yaneekpage; Website: yaneekpage.com