You feel ready to say goodbye to the boss. You're confident. You've got skills and experience. You have the right contacts and can see a bright future in front of you.
It's time to think about setting out on your own. But are you ready?
Running a business is not for everyone. Yet, if you have the right personality, nothing beats the feeling of independence or knowing that you are in charge of your own destiny. Many people who run their own businesses say it makes them feel more alive.
Get the formula right and you'll earn a steady income and maybe have time left over for the things that matter most to you. Or it may be that you want to run your own show so you can work on the things that matter the most to you.
Either way, there's a lot to be said for running your own business. But do you have what it takes?
To figure this out, do a personal stock-take. It may help to write these things down.
First, you need to figure out which of your skills are the most marketable.
Ask yourself: what are you really good at? Are these things that people are prepared to pay for? That's good. Is it something a little unusual that people will pay a premium for? That's better.
What experience do you have that will attract customers? You may have worked for someone and, along the way, learnt how their business works. Alternatively, you may have observed first-hand how it could have been done better if you were making the decisions.
This can be as simple as, say, the time you spent as a cafe barista giving you insight into what makes coffee drinkers happy enough to come back again and again.
Many successful businesses started to solve a problem. You may have noticed identified one that you know how to fix. Maybe it's something that frustrates you or that you've seen frustrate other people. If you can build a solution to solve that problem, you'll be well on your way to owning a thriving enterprise.
Next, think about how you work. Your personal stock-take needs to take your strengths and weaknesses into account. You have to be honest here. It may help to talk to someone close who knows you well, although such conversations may not end well.
Are you good with people or would you be happier in the background? This will help you decide what kind of business suits you. Do you have sales skills or do you hate asking for money? Are you confident enough to run everything or do you need some help with, say, organisation and marketing?
The answers to these questions could tell you that you need to look for business partners, advisors, employees or contractors. The answers may even tell you that you'd be better off buying a franchise. Many people have found this approach works for them.
Running a business can be hard work at first. You may have to put in extra hours to get things off the ground. So, it's important to do something you enjoy. That stock take needs to consider what you like doing and what you prefer to avoid.
If the thought of long hours working on your own scares you, don't pick a one-person business where you are removed from the daily hustle and bustle.
Likewise, if you prefer solitude, don't open a customer-facing business. Whatever you decide, you will need to be comfortable with the choice for years to come.
One thing all successful businesses have in common is resilience. Getting started is hard work. Unless you are lucky, you'll need to tough it out before the income starts to flow.
It's important your family and those close to you are on board and committed to the project. There are going to be times when you might wish you'd stayed on someone else's payroll.
If you are vulnerable at the moment, say you have a new baby or have taken on a hefty mortgage, this might not be the right moment to start out on your own. Don't be afraid to put those business plans on the back burner for now. You can always start later. A surprising number of successful businesses have been started by people in their fifties.
Think about how you will measure success. It could be that your business is more financially rewarding than working for an employer. Or it could be that you make a reasonable income while managing to fit work around other things that matter in your life.
Set yourself goals. It's good to have short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. You'll probably need to revisit these often as your business evolves and your out-of-business needs change. You'll need to be flexible. The world is moving faster than ever and while businesses are constantly being disrupted, rapid change also brings opportunities. If you are too rigid in your thinking, you'll miss these.