I know several Baby Boomers who are involved in the difficult balancing act of getting a small business going on the side while maintaining their day jobs:
- When is the time to make the "leap" to self-employment?
- What are the top priorities for your incipient business?
- How do you keep from resenting your day job? Or worse, keep your boss from noticing your dwindling commitment?
- Are you excited about your new business idea?
- Can you ever really balance the two?
First, Know Yourself
If you are feeling the least bit uncomfortable or unsure, there's a good reason, and it's likely that it involves your intention. If your intention to start your own business is less than 100%, part of you is clinging to the security of your day job. As you look around, you see everyone getting steady paychecks and health benefits. It's going to be scary to go out on your own. And, you will be on your own—not surrounded by a lot of co-workers, at least not at first—and suddenly totally responsible for the success of a new enterprise.
Second, Lift Your Intention, or Let Go
It is very, very difficult to make the leap into self-employment—if you are paralyzed with fear or unsure that you are really capable of pulling it off. Your motivation needs to be very high—so, where does your motivation come from? How strong is it? Are you escaping from a day job that's a bad fit for you, or running away from challenges on the job that, if faced, could lead to higher satisfaction at work? If being your own boss is for you, go for it...if it's driving you crazy, let it go now. Before you've spent your life savings and disappointed your boss is the time to answer these hard questions. Then set a schedule for launching the new and leaving the old, and stick to it!
Third, Really Define Your Business Plan
If you're still unclear about how your start-up is going to succeed, that's where you need to focus all your attention. Think hard about who your customers will be, how you will find them, and what they will want from you. Do your "due diligence":
- Research the market.
- Study the competition.
- Identify your niche.
- Be very honest about what it will take to make your plan work.
your business plan is sharp and credible, you will have an "excuse" to
take it slow. And you cannot do justice to both a job and a business.
What if this were the last day of your life? What would you want to be
doing and to have accomplished?
Fourth, Visualize Your Ideal Work Day
Part of your confusion about leaving the safety of your day job may be misunderstanding your own needs. How do you enjoy working? Are you a phone person? Are you a computer person? Are you an "outside" person who likes to give talks, visit companies, and persuade people in person? Close your eyes and imagine yourself at work at your new business: What does that look like? Your success may very well depend on matching your business plan to your personality. It's a mistake to leave yourself—and an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses—out of your new-business equation.
Finally, Share, Share, Share
The more you talk, the more refined your "elevator speech," will become—and the more compelling your product or service will sound to yourself and to others. Sharing your business idea can make you feel more confident and stoke your motivation. Practice on people you know and then move on to people you meet. Stuart has been refining his ES by giving it every Wednesday at his networking group; I've seen "what he does" gradually become a part of "who he is." This is a good place to be—identifying yourself as the person who has left the day job behind and become the spokesperson for a new business.
Put an end to the discomfort of being caught between two voracious time-eaters (your job and your business):
- Know yourself.
- Make your plan.
- Set your schedule.
- Give your notice.
- Step into your brave new identity.