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Before leaving your employment for business...

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I have heard this question asked time and again in various versions. If I am currently employed but want to launch my own business, when is a good time to do it? Every single time, my answer is the same – it depends.

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While this answer causes some level of frustration for those posing the question, it is true that everyone’s circumstances are different and that some decisions are too complex to give a blanket response for. If you are one of those people considering ‘doing your own thing’, there are a couple of things to consider:

The hype

The only stories we hear around businesses are the success stories. There is a bias towards glamorising entrepreneurship because we have spoken about it being the key to the continent’s success for so long. We hardly ever hear about the businesses that never saw the light of day, but as you can imagine they far outweigh those which succeed.

Similarly, there is a tendency for founders to over emphasize the positive aspects of business such as freedom, limitless revenue generation capacity to the exception of the back breaking work, sleepless nights, worry and frustration that it takes to get a business from the ground up.

Be very wary when listening to those founders who focus only on the positives without paying attention to the downsides and risks a business can bring along.

Hedge your bets

If you are currently employed and have an idea for a business, there is only one circumstance under which you should quit before going to market.

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If you have a significant chunk of money to give you runway (i.e. a period of time where you will not be dependent on your business generating revenue) for at least 12 months then you can give time to developing and taking your idea to market.

If you do not have funds stacked away or an assured commitment, then try as much as you can to build your idea and have a proof of concept before you quit. I have seen many entrepreneurs get to a point where they are caught up in an impossible financial situation.

Other than starting the business while you’re already employed, partnering with an individual already established is a great option for learning the ropes especially if you have not ran a business before.

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