I think most of us have dreamt of running our own business at some point in our careers. The prospect of ditching the routine 9-to-5, creating autonomy and being accountable to no one (well, maybe just the bank manager!) is incredibly exciting. But before you hand in your resignation and go it alone, there are several things to consider, and steps you can take, to make your journey to becoming your own boss that little bit easier.

In this blog, I’ll run you through my top seven tips for how to leave your 9-to-5. I hope you find them helpful.

1. Do your research

There’s never been so much information at our fingertips or free tools available to set up a small business! So, capitalise on all the fantastic resources that are out there to help you succeed, from online business tutorials to webinars and networking events.

Choose your business venture wisely. Service-based businesses are much easier to start and usually require fewer overheads and upfront investment. Product-based businesses typically generate more revenue, but there are generally more risks involved, greater capital investment needed and increased competition. Of course, you could always begin with a service-based business and move to products at a later date.

2. Create a plan

You’ve got some amazing ideas for services or products, and you’re itching to get started. The downside is finances are a bit tight, investment looks like it may take a while to secure, you’re still finding suppliers, or your client base is still relatively small. It can be easy to become downhearted about the whole starting up your own business thing. That’s why you need a plan!

A plan can help you visualise your journey from salaried employee to small business owner… and reduce the frustrations you may feel along the way.

Remember to include your financial plan as well as key milestones you’d like to hit along the way. Of course, nobody has a crystal ball, and unforeseen issues can arise at any time, so make sure you’re flexible with your plan and try to include time and budget contingencies to help buffer any bumps in the road.

3. Understand your ideal clients

One way to explore your target audience is by defining your Ideal Client Avatar (ICA). This is a highly effective tool, widely used in the world of marketing, to create a detailed profile of your ideal customer.

Like in a video game, your ideal client avatar represents a particular person you’re trying to find whose life will be improved by the service or product(s) you have to offer. Your ICA can include their age, gender, marital status, occupation, location, challenges, pain points, goals and values.

Once you know who you’re looking for, it makes it a darn sight easier to work out where they might hang out and how you can effectively market your business to engage with them.

4. Surround yourself with entrepreneurs

With around 5.5 million businesses in the UK employing up to 49 people, there’s a wealth of small business assistance out there to tap into. Finding a few contacts to become part of your network will not only offer you support when you may need it, but it’s also a fantastic way to glean helpful advice and learn from the mistakes others have made along the way.

Do you have friends or family members who’ve started a business? Growing your network of entrepreneurs could be as simple as talking through your ideas and listening to their frustrations. Then, they’ll hopefully share mistakes they may have made when they started and give you lots of information on the tools they use to make running a business as easy as possible.

5. Flirt with your business idea

Before leaving the security of paid employment, flirt with your business idea on evenings or weekends. This could include setting up an online shop, doing weekend markets or taking on freelance projects.

If you can’t find the time to test your business idea, you probably don’t have the passion and determination needed to make a go of your business idea full time.

Running a side hustle like this can be a terrific way to earn money to pay off any outstanding debts or to put some money away for when you decide to take the plunge and give your business venture your full attention!

6. Value your first customers

Find your first customers as quickly as you can and put plenty of effort into making them feel special and unique. Top-notch customer service at this early stage can be the difference between word-of-mouth recommendations and radio silence. Don’t just view them as a way to earn your first revenue; see them as the springboard to growing your client base.

7. Don’t burn your bridges

When it comes to handing in your resignation, make sure you depart on good terms. Explain your reasons for leaving and what’s driving you to try going it alone. If, down the road, you decide that being an entrepreneur is no longer where you see your career heading, or you wish to balance your business with some part-time paid employment, leaving well may keep the door open for you.

Bear in mind that past employers and colleagues have the potential to become your biggest advocates, as well as potential customers, so exit with grace and humility!

Are you thinking about leaving your 9-to-5 and starting a new business?

For more questions to ask yourself before you quit the 9-to-5 for good, have a read of my previous blog article.  You can also listen to my podcast on the topic.

If you’re thinking about starting a new business but are unsure if this is the right step for you to take, please contact me to arrange a free discovery call to find out how I can help.

It would also be great to connect with you on LinkedIn and Facebook!