Thursday, August 20, 2015

Should I quit my job and be self-employed?

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Fred has worked for an accounting firm for over seven years and thinks he won’t ever be made a partner. He is very unhappy and desperately wants out. He thinks he should quit and set up his own. Wale, has been in banking for about a decade and believes his experience and connection earned over the years is enough for him to quit and start his own.
Tinu on the other hand, just gave birth to her third child and is in her fourth month of maternity. She has discussed with her husband about her fear of returning to her grueling sales job and they have both pondered whether this is now the time for them to try something new. She has always had a passion for planning events.
Stories like these all point to one common question; should I quit my job and be self-employed? It’s a question that resonates in the minds of nearly every employee seeking to go solo. Whilst it’s not a bad thing to be self-employed, there are a few things one actually needs to take into consideration. Here are my thoughts.

Continue reading after the cut.....

Bills, bills, bills
The moment you decide to quit your job to start yours, you no longer rely on a steady stream of income to take care of the bills. Most businesses don’t make money immediately and even when they do, you need to reinvest it for it to grow. As such, you want to make sure you have some money set aside in an emergency fund to take care of bills for at least six months to one year. If you are married and have kids, you may also want to consider if your other half can at least take care of the basic bills. Don’t quit if you don’t have an answer to ‘who pays the bills?’

Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you passion is an important factor to being successful. You hear them say, getting paid for what you love doing is one of the best feelings you can ever have. I like to put such thoughts into context. If you are passionate about what you currently do then it doesn’t really matter whether you are self-employed or not. The only thing that should matter is whether you get paid very well for it. You only have to change your mindset and think of yourself more as a contractor than an employee. There is no point leaving a job that you love just so that you can start yours even when the economics don’t look right. After all some employee earn more than private business owners.

Forget luck, money, contacts and even passion. To be a successful entrepreneur you must have the courage and tenacity for survival. Being tenacious and courageous doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of courage to decide you want to quit your job to be on your own, let alone have the courage to remain there when the chips are down. Taking hard decisions such as firing employees, outsmarting competitors, owed debts and standing up to creditors and shareholders does require a unique kind of courage and tenacity that is not thought in any school. Don’t bother quitting your job if you lack courage. If you are not sure you do, better ask someone who can tell you the truth.

I mentioned passion as one of those things we can count on in deciding whether to quit a job or not. However, whatever it is you are passionate about must be able to solve a problem as well generate money. There is no point leaving your job because you want to start a business no one will be interested in patronising let alone paying for. Every business solves a problem for its customers and you get paid depending on how important the problem is and how well you market your solution.

If you tick the boxes above and still believe you should quit your job then consider writing a business plan first before you sign that resignation letter. Most people start businesses without a business plan believing that all they want to do is in their head. Sorry, not in this time and age. A business plan will be required by your investor (even if it’s your husband or wife), lenders, venture capitalist etc. There are several tools online that can help you with writing a business plan or get someone to write it for you. Most people change their mind after seeing their business plan. The startup cost all of a sudden, is now N5m and not N500, 000. Competition is rife and the idea is not new like you thought it.

Every business needs funds to survive so this is a no brainer. As a new business, you can either bootstrap the business yourself or get people to provide the funding. Without doing a proper business plan and feasibility study, it is nearly impossible to know how much is required to fund it. Don’t bother resigning if you haven’t figured out how to go about this.
Finally, you need not feel bad if your plan to go solo is not working. It’s perhaps not the right time to do it or maybe you have to plan better. Maybe you even need a change of job and not to quit paid job completely.

- Ugodre Obi-Chukwu

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