Many full-time employees dream of the day when they can quit their day job and start their own business as an entrepreneur. Just imagine how wonderful it would be…..no more boss to tell to tell us what to do, no more having to brave the traffic jam to and from work during peak hours, no more dragging ourselves to the office when we would rather be on holiday or spending time with our family, no more office politics, no more nasty managers and backstabbing colleagues, no more having to pay so much in income tax..(ignore the last one, that was a joke ?).
But seriously, is the reality going to be quite as wonderful as our dreams?
Explore Your Vision
Firstly, we need to explore the basis of our vision as to what being an entrepreneur is all about. Have we been reading a lot of self-help books like “The 4-hour work week” that have convinced us that being an entrepreneur is the easy way to riches and leisure time?
Are we inspired by the biographies of successful entrepreneurs and believe that we have what it takes? Do we assume that we too, could be the next Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame?
It is a great idea to be inspired and motivated by all the positive and inspirational messages out there. However, we need to also be very clear as to the other side of the coin. Not everyone becomes Mark Zuckerberg. In fact, the number of successful entrepreneurs is very small.
Well, one of the reasons is that being an entrepreneur may look easy, but behind the glamorous exterior lies a great deal of extremely hard work, dedication, discipline and sacrifice. Regardless of what your business idea is, you may find that the transition from full-time employee to entrepreneur poses challenges in areas that you did not anticipate.
For example, let us say that you are a qualified accountant, and your full-time job is in the finance department of a large company. You are responsible for the financial reporting aspect. You report to the Chief Financial Officer or Financial Controller.
Your KPI is to complete the work assigned to you accurately and within the timelines allocated. For your work, you are paid a monthly wage. This money comes in every month without fail regardless of how the company is performing, or what is happening in other departments, or the economic situation. As a full-time employee, your wages are fixed.
So, you feel that You Are not Paid Enough?
“So what?” you may ask. “The monthly wage is so low, I work such long hours and have to put up with all sorts of nonsense from my boss and colleagues, whereas I can easily make so much more money if I were to open my own an accounting firm as a small business”. (Is it?)
But what about the other side of the coin? As the owner of a small business, you will not only have to do the work that you are trained for (providing accounting services to your clients), but will also have to worry about other aspects of running a business that were not your concern when you worked full-time. For example, HR, IT infrastructure, legal and regulatory issues, sales & marketing, business development, and other areas.
Less Time For Yourself and Family
You may not have the resources to hire a lot of staff, so may find yourself doing more work than you used to when you worked in a large company. Soon, you find that you are working even longer hours than you used to, for (initially at least) less money than before, as your set-up costs are high and your new client base is still small.
You spend even less time with your family and don’t have time to take care of yourself. Worrying about the business consumes your every waking moment (and eats into your savings in “lean” months when the takings are not high enough). You start to value the security of a job.
Know What You Are Getting Into
The above scenario is not designed to discourage you, but rather, to simply highlight the less talked-about side of quitting your day job to be an entrepreneur. One should at least be aware that it is not as easy as it looks.
Even for the lucky few who hit the big time as entrepreneurs even though they started out with nothing, if you study their background, you will see that there was no short cut to success. They worked very hard, and went through very tough times, to get where they have. They also had their fair share of luck.
So, for those planning to quit their full time job and start a business as entrepreneurs, spend some time to first thoroughly research your idea, explore the readiness of your potential market, understand who your competitors are and know your comparative advantage, and examine the regulatory environment, understand your current financial position and growth targets, and build lists of potential partners, investors, staff and customers.