If you’ve been punching the corporate clock for a few years and you think it might be the right time to pursue your passion or talent on your own, you may want to take some time to read about transitioning from the corporate world to the world of an entrepreneur. It can be done – and many people have been quite successful leaving behind a corporate career to pursue an entrepreneurial dream. But a successful transition requires preparation, self-awareness and a strong understanding of the process. Here are three things to consider:
1. Be Aware of Who You Are: Assess Your Fit
No one knows you better than you, and that’s the best place to start if you’re seriously considering pursuing self-employment. Identifying your competencies, behaviors and skills will help determine if you are a good “fit” for the entrepreneurial world. Competencies and skills are not the same as passion, drive or personality and more than a few self-starters have failed; not because they lacked the motivation, but simply because they didn’t have the necessary competencies and skills to get the job done.
Remember, you may be an expert in the kitchen, but as an entrepreneur, you will need to have a variety of things beyond just cooking to create, maintain and grow a successful bakery. A professional assessment can help determine where your strengths and weaknesses are and how to enhance those competencies that you may have but have not used in your current position.
2. Understand the Realities of Working For Yourself
Being your own boss is a dream come true: you’ll sleep late, have more time to spend with family and be able to take a pay raise. Oh, AND your house will be always tidy. Hold on, because these are not facts based in reality, and understanding the truth behind working for yourself is a key part of making the transition successfully. Unless you have a considerable amount of capital ready to invest, you’ll need to be prepared to wear several different hats. That means bookkeeping, salesperson, receptionist, marketing executive and probably even janitor.
The suit, the commute – these are things you’ve been doing for years – and adjusting to a new lifestyle and tasks isn’t always easy. You’ll need to call on discipline you may not have had to use on account of the structure inherent in the corporate world. That warm spring day in April when you’d rather be lounging with a great book, you’ll have to choose to work (if you want to get paid at least).
Despite what you may believe, a home office does not mean extra time to clean, bake, and lounge around. You’ll have to find the discipline to ignore some of the distractions and focus on your business. It’s also a sharp transition moving from an established hierarchal structure with colleagues and a team atmosphere to being alone, and it’s easy to develop feelings of isolation. Coaching can help with this process, making the transition easier and more successful.
3. Networking and Planning
No business can be started in isolation and networking is a huge component of building any new company, particularly by yourself. Aside from finding and building important connections, you need to have a well thought out and clear plan in place. It doesn’t need to be a complex, 50-page business plan, but it should at least have the elements of a good plan – value proposition, budget and revenue stream, identified risks, details on products or services, networks, marketing strategy, connections, and so on.
Business mentors can be extremely helpful with this process, particularly in specialized areas, like retail for example. Talking to someone who has been successful at building a business can help guide the process of dealing with provincial and local requirements, taxes, and keeping inventory. Behind the scene considerations can be complex and daunting without the right guidance.
Making the leap from the corporate world to the entrepreneur world can be rewarding, exciting and potentially just what you are looking for. But it can also be intimidating without the right preparation. If, after reflection and professional guidance, you determine you have the personality, drive and planning in place, go and do it! The scariest part is making the leap – but if you plan right and understand the realities, it can be the best decision you’ve ever made.