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Cash cushion or not? When to leave your full-time job to pursue your passion.

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn

Many of us have been there--daydreaming about the vision we have for our lives and the entrepreneurial ideas we have to get there, but unclear about the timeline we should use to boldly pursue our dreams. In fact, I often get asked the question by clients and prospective clients: "When should I leave my full-time job to pursue my passion?" 

In the world of entrepreneurship, while there is no cookie-cutter answer, I can offer you some wisdom and my perspective on this extremely important question.

See below for some things to consider on your journey from full-time work to full-time entrepreneurship:

1. What is your detailed current budget, and how long would it take your entrepreneurial venture to support that budget?  Some entrepreneurs use loans from individuals or banks to start their business to have enough money for an income as well as business expenses. If you borrow, know when you'll be able to pay that money back through doing conservative financial projections for your business, knowing that the revenue you project may not actually be the revenue that you bring in initially. I find that entrepreneurs often over-estimate their profitability before officially being in business. Many entrepreneurs I know, including myself, start their business from their own investments and expect their business to solely support them. If you do this, determine what your revenue might be 3 months, 1 year, and 2 years from starting your business to determine when you can transition from your full-time job. If 3 months down the road, your projected revenue for your business is not coming to fruition, re-do your projections to make sure they are more realistic. You may have to reduce your personal budget initially if you hope to leave your full-time job as soon as your entrepreneurial venture hits a point where all of your needs are met (and not your wants). Also think about any huge upcoming expenses you may have as you budget (such as a car or home purchase or an expanding family).

2. Determine whether you're disciplined enough to work for yourself. Go ahead and try to maximize your time outside of your full-time job to work on another venture, and start now. Notice your work habits. Are you easily distracted? Do you procrastinate? Is it hard for you to get anything done?  If you have answered yes to any of the above statements, then leaving your full time job for your entrepreneurial venture may not be the best thing for you to do right now. You may end up leaving your job and lacking the productivity strategies that you need to make ends meet. Instead, get support in that area right now, so you'll be able to maximize your profitability in your business when the time comes, and experience profitability in your business even as you hold a full-time job.

3. Are you fearless when it comes to the sales or fundraising skills needed to make your dream come true?  Many individuals have a fear of selling. In fact, I often run into awesome entrepreneurs who are great at what they do, but are afraid to make the cold calls or have the sales conversations needed to sell their products or services or to be able to fundraise for a nonprofit campaign.You can have a great product, but if you can't sell it, you will have no revenue. Again, this doesn't mean you can't start your business. It just means that you have to enhance these skills before jumping 100 percent into entrepreneurship. This skill-set is something I had to work on in a major way before seeing my business grow and flourish. If you are truly committed to your business success, you too can experience immense growth in your sales or fundraising skill-set.  

4. Do you have a well-thought out business plan?  Do you know exactly what you want to do, who you want to serve, how you want to do it, and how it will be profitable? If you're unsure, then get the support you need to get clear on the details of how your business will be successful, and take care in considering the components of successful business that I have underlined above. You should even be fully implementing the major components of your master plan and analyzing the results of your implementation before transitioning into full-time entrepreneurship to ensure your master plan is truly an effective one.

The above tips are solely a few, out of many, things to consider, as you determine when you should leave your full-time job to transition into pursuing your passion full-time. You should definitely put deep thought into making the transition, and seek counsel before you make the leap into complete dream territory. And when you're ready, pursue your dreamsfearlessly, though strategically, to make the transition one you can look back on and be proud of. 

As always, please comment below or send me a quick email to let me know if this was helpful, and feel free to share with family or friends who you feel this might be helpful for.

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