Starting a business can be extremely daunting. From solidifying product and service plans to forming a go-to-market strategy, the process of starting up is often enough to scare hopeful entrepreneurs away. When new business owners believe that they must quit their current job to start a company, they often hit a dead-end in the process.
We have good news. You don’t need to quit your job. Not yet.
Quitting your job before getting your start-up off the ground may seem like the best way to prioritize your time, but that’s not always the case. Oftentimes, the most optimal way for you to get your business running in a secure and profitable way is to develop your company while you’re still employed.
Building a raft before jumping ship can make your transition from employee to entrepreneur much smoother. The time and hard work required during this season of your life will be tough, but you’ll be grateful you allowed yourself time to grow before taking off on your own.
For further insight into this topic, we got in touch with Natalie Williams, the Executive Director of The Women’s Business Center (WBCC) here in Charlotte, NC. The WBCC helps women-owned businesses flourish in the city of Charlotte by providing them the resources they need to start a company, establish revenue, and strategize for the future. Here’s Natalie Williams on why quitting your job is not always the first step to starting a business.
“I have to quit my current job to be taken seriously as a startup.”
Not true! As a matter of fact, it is oftentimes best to keep your current job, especially if you’re looking to get a business loan. If you are looking for loaned capital to start your company, keep in mind that banks want to see that you are taking starting a business seriously. They want to see that you have a steady stream of income that will help you pay off that loan once approved.
“What is the difference between a startup and a small business?”
A start-up, in layman terms, can be defined as a business that has just moved from a pre-venture status to its first stages of operation. Start-ups are looking for fast growth and high-end revenue and are usually seeking funding either from an investor, venture capitalist, crowdfunding, or other capital sources. They may still be trying to develop their products and services over a several-year time period. Small businesses can generally be defined by size standard guidelines laid out by the Small Business Association (SBA). Size standards vary by industry and are usually based on the number of employees or the volume of revenue. Small businesses are generally companies seeking funding from SBA lenders, banks, investors, and such.
“I want to be an entrepreneur, but I’m still working for someone else. How do I make that transition?”
The transition is never easy, so there is no real right or wrong answer. It all depends on the line of work you are in and the type of business you want to start. While working in your current job, start to work on your business structure and business plan in your spare time. This is the part of the business that takes the longest and the one that many small businesses overlook at the beginning. Start with a journal or mapping tool and begin with a few simple steps:
- Write down your vision, mission, and philosophy for the business.
- Define who your product or service is for. Who is your client? What do they look like? What do they like to purchase and why? Where are they located?
- Get your business structure in order and organize your company. Develop the processes and procedures that will keep your start-up afloat.
- Find a project management tool. Use this to decide on your strategy for who will do what and when.
“Will my company be taken less seriously because I’m having to split my time?”
This will all depend on how you present your project, your company, and yourself to others in the business community. Leadership and business management skills are key elements in running a business. Be confident in your product, show up in your true authentic self, be deliberate in your delivery, and be intentional in your followthrough. Learn the business acumen and concepts around your industry. Understand the market and what affects you and your customers. Do a great job by completing your work on time and on budget. Understanding who you are and how you want to lead is what makes others take note of your company. Remember, you started this venture out of passion; if you take yourself seriously others will too.
“How do I decide when it’s time to quit my job and go full time with my startup?”
This is a personal decision that should be taken very seriously. There are several key tactics you can utilize to determine when it’s the right time to step off and start your adventure. Here are a few:
- Put your strategic plan in place. Your plan should consist of six key elements of running a business: finance, product/service, sales/marketing strategy, operations, growth, and industry analysis.
- Understand your finances. This is extremely important! Knowing how your business has done over a period of time and what the projected outlook for success could be, especially specific to your industry, is vital. This will mean the difference between staying open or closing your doors earlier than anticipated. It is imperative to know the revenue you are making now and what to expect in the future.
- Secure sustainability. Have strategies, practices, and processes that will keep your business growing and innovative. Know when and how to implement those strategies.
“What resources can I reach out to in order to learn more about building a startup?”
Local resource organizations such as Charlotte Business Resources (CBR), your local community colleges and Small Business Center Networks (SBCN), your regional SBA office which has partnerships with many other resource organizations such as SCORE, Women’s Business Centers (WBC), Small Business Technical Resource Center (SBTRC), Veteran Affairs, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) local Chamber of Commerce and more.
Thank you so much, Natalie!
The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte offers one-on-one business counseling. They also host seminars and classes focused on a variety of key business topics, such as marketing, finance, certification and more. Visit them online to learn more about their programs and training opportunities!
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