The choice to get out of bed and go to work for someone else each day can be a tricky one. Even if you’re working in an excellent firm with prospects, great feedback and – here’s the killer – a company car, there may be that nagging thought at the back of your head: I want to do this for myself.
Some people were built to work in a regular, supervised workspace where the ultimate responsibility is somewhere above them and they’re free to take chances and evolve within an established format. Others won’t even show up for a job like this because they can’t handle the regularity or the thought of being subject to a manager’s whims. But a lot of ambitious people exist on the spectrum between these two points, where they yearn to create something for themselves but fear the instability that comes with going it alone. If that’s you: don’t worry, it’s normal. Now take steps to decide what’s best.
First of all, know that working for yourself is a lot more difficult than it looks. This is not a negative point. If you start up your own business, you’re going to need to learn a host of new skills, which is great. You’re going to be pushed to be more resourceful, more adaptable and more resilient. Do you feel you have room to expand in these areas? Or does your nine-to-five job already ask quite enough of you?
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably in the first category. In this case, there are some more difficult questions to answer. Can you live month after month unsure of when, or how big, your pay check will be, until your business becomes stable? Can you do the maths, or afford to bring someone in to do the maths, to ensure this unpredictability is minimized as much as possible? These are some of the realities you’ll have to face up to, while you’re enjoying developing your business ideas and creating your own tailored working environment.
It’s a lot to think about, and you probably don’t have firm answers for each of these questions. The truth is, while you can start to make an appraisal of how suited you are to working for yourself, you won’t know quite what it’s like until you make that step. If you’re still curious but not ready to leap into the dark, it may be worth cutting down your hours at your regular job and freelancing for a while. Whilst freelancing doesn’t necessarily come with the same ups and downs as running your own business, it has a lot in common – you’ll need to drum up your own leads, motivate yourself, and police your invoices more vigilantly than your regular pay check. But it also gives you a great opportunity to try a variety of experiences and manage your own time. Maybe this is what you will decide to do permanently after all.
Whichever path you choose, if leaving your regular employment there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Don’t burn your bridges – even if you’re certain you’ll never want your old job back, you never know when your boss or colleagues will pop up elsewhere to form a useful connection for you in future. Your grace in departure will be remembered. And when you set to work on your new enterprise, as idealistic as you may be, you need to be revenue-focussed from the beginning. So many promising new businesses fail because they can’t survive beyond that difficult first stretch. Start selling from your garage if you need to, so you have an income before you start paying for overheads like warehouse or office space.
For more insight into this difficult but exciting decision-making process, check out the below infographic by The Business Backer to help clarify some of the doubts in your head. Be bold, but be prepared.