Becoming an Entrepreneur – from office job to online cleaning company
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It’s not unusual to start a business on the side while still employed in a regular job, but it’s a lot of work! Some find that it requires too much time and energy and pack it in, but success is possible for those who stay the course – like my guest today, Kat Buckley.
Leaving the corporate world as an employee and to set up my own online cleaning business called HappyCleans was both exciting and terrifying. I managed to balance everything, but it did require discipline, planning, and focus. I am now free to run the company remotely and only need to work on it myself less than 10 hours on it a week. In the first few years, this was very different and I worked 60-70 hour week but there are things that you can do to maximize your chances of success.
Planning, Planning, Planning
While the adage “If you want to see God laugh, make a plan,” is often true, you are not likely to succeed working an office job and growing your own business if you do not plan effectively.
Get a planner that you like. It can be a basic planner with daily or weekly layouts or a fancy planner with stickers, decorations, and removable pages. Write down every single thing that needs to get done and when you’re going to do it. While you’re still in your regular job, you’ll find a lot of work will need to be done in evenings and weekends. Work life balance won’t really be possible in the beginning so it’s important to focus on your long term goals, knowing you will get this time back in the future if your company is successful. Motivation needs to come from within as even though you’ll be making progress with your company, it is unlikely that any money will come in so you’ll need to stick with it in spite of that.
Schedule Your Time Carefully
While working your regular job and beginning your fantastic new business, you will have to meticulously schedule your time. Schedule at least a few hours for dinner or meals and “off-time” so that you can sleep and rest. If you do not schedule some time for yourself, you may find that you are not eating dinner at a consistent time or that you are missing meals altogether and that your productivity suffers. Not all hours spent working are equal and it’s important to be as productive as possible when you are. While an occasional missed meal is fine, you will need to make sure that you are staying fit and healthy during this time. Poor eating habits can lead to illness and decrease your stamina. Nothing can destroy your hard work more than mistakes you make when tired or ill.
Save Every Nickel
Making the jump from the corporate world to being your own boss is liberating, but it that feeling quickly fades if you’re struggling badly for money so it’s important to save every bit of money that you can. Lower your car insurance rates by raising deductibles or lowering payout limits. Couponing, selling unused items, and even simple things like getting rid of cable or satellite television can also save you money. You will not be able to make the transition without significant savings as most businesses take time to turn a profit. I know this first hand as I went a full year before I could even take a small wage ( and even then it was about one third of my previous salary!) If you have enough in savings, this may not be devastating, but if you do not have enough saved, you are putting yourself in jeopardy.
Use Retirement Savings Wisely
Cashing in a 401K might seem like a good idea at the time, but the penalties for early withdrawal can be steep. Make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks. If the business does not work out the way you had hoped, how will making this withdrawal affect your future? You will still need retirement savings. Can you live off of what is left? If you cannot, you will want to make plans for how to get enough money into savings for your future too.
Taking the Leap of Faith
At some point, you will need to make permanent move from employee to employer. Make sure that you can make this leap without totally disrupting the rest of your life, but you cannot continue to work such long hours forever. Have faith in your decisions and choices, and make the leap as soon as you can, but be sure that you can live with the consequences as you are likely to lose health insurance and other benefits. My advice would be to only leave your day job when you’ve a comfortable amount of savings as even really clever and innovative new startups can fail. And remember that you don’t need to always reinvent the wheel as I certainly didn’t with my cleaning company!
Mental and physical health are also essential to your well-being. While having enough money can minimize stress, which improves both mental and physical health, it is not the only thing to consider. Working long hours with little rest or relaxation while essentially doing two jobs is not good for you either. Make the leap when it is best physically, mentally, and financially.
Sometimes your business will succeed and other times it won’t. This can be tough to take emotionally but if you give it your best shot you should have no regrets. You may often learn more about your industry and strengths and use this going forward so not everything is always lost. One thing you can consider as the company grows is to hire people to compensate for your weaknesses and grow as a company. You can’t be good at everything, so I had someone to help with the website design early in my business and it saved me so much time! Best of luck and believe in yourself. 🙂
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