Taking the plunge into full time entrepreneurship is both an exciting and scary endeavor. While some people have no reservations about turning in their notice and starting their work-from-home business, others hem and haw until nearly retirement. You don’t want to fall into either of these groups, though; instead, take your time figuring out if it’s the right decision for you before turning in your notice, but don’t wait a lifetime to do so. Walk through these five simple questions to determine if you’re ready to pursue your dreams.
Is Your Business Legal?
Whether you’re launching an at-home daycare or entering the world of freelance graphics, making sure your business is 100% in the clear legally is imperative. Do your due diligence and set up an LLC or EIN, ensure your business name and logos are not violating any copyrights and check to make sure that your local municipalities will actually allow you to do business.
For instance, finding out four weeks into an organic chicken farm enterprise that your local government doesn’t allow poultry on residential lots will result in a sudden loss of income that’s all your own doing. Do your homework and make sure everything you do is lawful.
Do You Have a Safety Net?
Most business owners struggle to make their business a success, especially in their first years after a new launch. Starting a new stay-at-home career without an adequate safety net is foolish and potentially damaging to your financial and social life. Having an emergency fund capable of keeping you afloat is imperative. Exactly how long it can keep you afloat is up to you. If your expenses are low and you have no dependents, a three month buffer could be sufficient. If you have lots of expenses and no other source of support, a full year of living expenses may be necessary.
Work through worst-case scenarios. Could you survive off your spouse’s income? Is moving back home an option? What would you be willing to give up to continue your dream of working from home? Businesses need time to grow, and you need to be able to give your business a fighting chance at success by being able to endure a few months with minimal income.
Are You Marketing?
Marketing campaigns and blitzes should be happening long before you quit your job. Rarely is work instantaneous and building a loyal following takes time. Prior to serving your notice you should have proposals ready, phone lists being called and postcards in mailboxes.
The worst thing you can do to your business is start unprepared. Marketing is a constant challenge. Even with a strong customer base and work to spare, a lapse in marketing can lead to lean months. Start your business off strong by marketing well before your regular paychecks stop.
Is Your Online Presence Strong?
Setting up an online presence is time intensive, particularly for the not-so-computer literate. Learning about website design and Google analytics takes time and attention. When you launch a new business you want to focus on gaining business and attracting customers, not how to properly format a WordPress site.
Have everything in place for launch prior to resigning. Make sure your business name tops relevant search results, your social media sites are set up and your site looks professional. If mobile marketing will be important to your business, test your site to make sure that it is usable on different devices. It doesn’t have to be perfect because, frankly, it never will be, but it should be close.
Are You Terrified?
While an entrepreneurial lifestyle has its appeals, much can be said for a steady paycheck. Leaving the 9-to-5 grind for the unknown is scary and inconceivable for many cubicle dwellers. You’ll meet nay-sayers and encounter a whole lot of self-doubt along the way.
Thankfully, this fear can drive you to success. Embrace your doubts and fears about starting a stay-at-home business and use them as the motivation that will drive you towards creating a profitable business.
There is no amount of planning that will ensure instant profit and success, but finishing this checklist will start your business in the right direction. Businesses aren’t built the day the doors open; planning starts well before inventory is stocked and salespeople are hired. Find success in your first months in business by setting up beforehand.
Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.