I was at an event the other night at Depo8 and was chatting to a group of people about business and how I got started in my own business. When I asked them what they do I found out that they each worked for a company doing a job that they don’t really like. Each had an idea for a business but none of them had any idea about how to start.
I’m a pretty straight up kind of person so I told them – Quit you job. The answer got mixed results but most looked taken back by my simple answer. One by one they respond with reasons why they can’t quit their jobs. “What if my idea doesn’t work?” “I’ve got bills to pay?” “I don’t know how to do A or B so how can I start a business?”
Stop making excuses and do it! Nothing makes you more committed to an idea than if it’s your sole focus. And nothing makes you more committed to making an idea work than if your depending on it to put food on the table.
Sounds scary right? But it doesn’t have to be. When I say quit your job, I don’t mean right there and then. You need to have a plan and a set of goals which will allow you to quit your job and survive for 6-12 months. This gives you a buffer zone if your business doesn’t bring in the bacon straight away.
Before I quit my job I saved up enough money to keep me afloat for six months, 12 if I could handle living on a tight budget. I had to be able to pay rent and buy food for long enough to get my business to a point where it was providing enough income to pay the bills.
A friend of mine, Steve Sammartino, once told me that everyone can work 6 months of the year and take the other 6 off. All you need to do is save 50% of what you get paid in the first 6 months! Simple.
I also had a look at my personal skill set and had a think about what skills I would need to run my own business. The skill I was lacking and was most critical to running a business was sales. I had dealt with clients directly in my pervious jobs but only once the job had been won, I was never out on the front line trying to woo new clients. Not being one to sit around, I got busy learning about sales. I did the obvious things like reading sales books and went to a few sales seminars but quickly I figured the best way to learn was through experience. The next day I started looking around for sales jobs. As luck would have a sales job opening came up at a company which sold CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. Not just any CAD software but the package that I had been using in my profession for 5-6 years so knew it inside and out, plus I knew the industry and the types of companies they would be selling to. I meet with the sales manager and convinced him to give me a shot in a sales role. After a few interviews and a technical tests to prove I knew my stuff, the sales manager was convinced enough to offer me a sales position, with a shitty base wage. Getting paid a crappy wage to learn is a lot better then having to pay for a training course and 100 times more effective in my books. I accepted the position, quit my previous job and started my journey into sales.
I spent almost 12 months in that sales role. I hated it at first but kept tacking away, and eventually managed to start landing sales. By the end of the year I was pretty good at it, sure there were a lot of things I didn’t agree with but none the less I earn’t my sales stripes and got paid to do it!
Now with some sales skills covered, enough coin in the bank to keep me going for six months, I pulled the pin, quit working for a boss and started on my journey to running my own business.
It doesn’t have to be scary and its not a massive leap of faith. Worse case scenario, at the end of your six months if your business idea isn’t working as well as you had hoped, all you need to do it find a job, work for six months, save up some money, and try it all over again with a new idea. You’ll learn more in six months running your own business than you ever will working in a job you don’t like for six years! Get and plan and have a crack. You will never look back.