It’s settled: This is the year to break out on your own. 2017 is the time to leave behind your cubicle-enclosed nine-to-five and pursue your passion project full time, whether that’s taking a hobby to the next level or launching a full-blown business. But before you make the leap and put in your two-weeks notice, there are questions—three, to be exact—you need to ask yourself.
“You want to make sure you’re making a well-thought-out decision about quitting your job because it’s a big decision,” says Hallie Crawford, career coach and founder of career coaching agency Hallie Crawford. “You don’t want to quit on a whim.”
These questions will make sure you won’t—and if you answer them honestly, they’ll even help you set yourself up for success. Here they are.
1. Do I have a business plan?
It’s not enough to know what you want to do. To achieve any goal, you need a step-by-step plan—a business plan, that will include a timeline and what, exactly, you need to do to have your business hit the ground running. “Make sure you have all of your ducks in a row,” says Crawford. “You can’t just wing it—you need to have a plan in place before you quit, so you can be successful as quickly as possible.” If you’re not sure where to start, take a look here, where the U.S. Small Business Administration has laid out all the key components to a business plan, and how to put it into action.
[Related: “I Quit My Job and Regret It To This Day”]
2. Do I have savings?
Launching anything from an Etsy store to a social media app takes more than chutzpah—it takes a chunk of change. “Before you become your own boss, make sure you have six months of reserves to live lean until your business takes off,” says Jill Jacinto, millennial career expert. With the business plan you’ve created from question No. 1, “plug in the upfront costs you will need to start your business such as office space, subscriptions, technology, website creation and hosting,” says Jacinto, and ask yourself if you have enough saved up before you quit a steady-income job.
3. Do I have support systems in place?
You’ve heard the saying before: It takes a village. It’s true when it comes to starting your own business, too. “A lot of people dream about starting their own business, but sadly many of them go back to established organizations when they start to run into difficulties,” says Crawford. That’s because many times, she says, entrepreneurs don’t have the support they need. “Starting your own business will be hard work and there will be challenges,” she says. “So make sure that you are mentally prepared for them and have the necessary support systems and advisors in place—an accountant, legal assistance, and anything or anyone else that you need to fill in the gaps in your knowledge base.” Once you do, you’ll know you’re ready to quit your nine-to-five.
Still doubting yourself? Here are a few more questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge:
4. Do I have any clients?
A good idea is just that if you don’t have anyone willing to invest in it. “If you are looking to go out on your own, you should have an existing client that you’ve been working with on the side,” says Jacinto. Why? As they say, the proof is in the pudding, or in your case, the purchases, reviews, or whatever applies to your product or service. If you can show that “you have already taken steps to stake out clients, and have someone who can sing your praises,” you’re setting yourself up for success, Jacinto says.
[Related: 7 Career-Boosting Books to Read This Month]
5. Can I juggle?
No, we don’t mean that literally. But a business owner of any kind must be able to manage multiple tasks. “Many times people start a business because they love doing a certain skill—baking, writing, developing, designing,” says Jacinto. “But as a business owner, that skill will be [a very small part] of the overall work you’ll be doing. You’ll also become a salesperson, accountant, marketer, public relations representative, editor, and everything in between.” So before you make the leap, she says, ask yourself if you can really handle wearing all those hats.
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