Taking a leap…or small steps?

Entrepreneur written on running track

I embarked on a slow and steady transition from my well-paid, stable, yet unfulfilling job into the unknown world of being a solo business owner. I know others who have made the giant leap from their corporate cubicle and a single-titled role into the work from anywhere and wear all hats gig of a start-up business.

Some people don’t get a choice. Redundancy can be the catalyst, and if there is severance pay, that can be a great incentive to start a business. But for many, it’s a loosening of the apron strings that is the safer option.

I took almost two years to resign from my corporate role and to immerse myself in business entirely, and the simple reason was self-doubt. The usual – am I good enough to be in business? Will people hire me? What if it fails?

It turns out I am good enough, people do hire me, and I am winning so far in this entrepreneurial journey, but of course, I didn’t know that at the time.

So, what are the pros and cons of the two approaches?

Making the leap

The obvious drawback is the lack of a regular paycheck. As well as the likelihood of not taking a wage for some time, you also need to consider superannuation. As a start-up business, it’s likely you’ll put superannuation contributions on the back burner.

On the plus side, if you are financially able to make that leap, then being 100 per cent focused and committed to your fledgling business, will be liberating and with a no looking back approach you are likely to get off to a healthy start.

It can be a lonely gig working by yourself all day. If you are used to the daily grind of peak hour traffic, riding public transport and the general flurry of office activity – it will seem weird with nothing but you and your shadow. But you will soon learn where all the funky spaced coffee shops are, the various casual co-working spots and where to go to find fellow work-from-home companions who are also seeking to escape the isolation.

In hindsight, I could have made the transition sooner, and I know that if I had leapt, I would have built my business up quicker with momentum and more of a sense of urgency.

The staged approach

I reduced my hours from five days to four, then three, then two and a half. I was also able to access various flexible working arrangements.

Still having a wage (as well as paying less in tax) meant that I had the income to be able to purchase office equipment and tools of the trade (not many for a professional speaker) as well as invest in business coaching so steer me in the right direction from day one.

It also meant that I wasn’t too concerned about how many or when the next client was going to come from, this gave me a relaxed approach to any sales conversations (compared to those that stink of desperation).

The drawback was having to pick up and put down my business in between juggling a job as well as family life. It was hard to get momentum and sometimes I missed opportunities due to not being able to respond immediately or see potential clients within a particular time frame.

There is no right or wrong way. Whether you have one foot out the door of your job or you are strapped up ready for the leap, I wish you well in your entrepreneurial journey.

Lisa Evans, Director and Chief Storyteller, Speaking Savvy