Real Leaders

5 Ways to Move From Employee to Entrepreneur

How many times have you had drinks with colleagues after a long week and the following situation happens. You sit around a table of Buffalo wings and beer to discuss the latest celebrity debacle, who won the big game, and inevitably, complain about your job. Despite the normal topics of conversation, easily and expectedly, work becomes an anchor in the dialogue.

The commonalities of being unappreciated, overlooked and flat tired of office politics are all brewed over. Sound familiar? Then, as the third round of beer arrives, the conversation, a bit slurred, turns to all of the other things you really want to do with your life and career.  

Maybe someone at your table wants to open an online business of sorts, maybe another wants to open her own firm. Almost everyone has a dream of kicking the 9-5. Wouldn’t it be great to give yourself freedom, creativity, money, and yes, have the life you want? Yet the more you dive into these thoughts, it’s the doing it part that can be the hurdle. You may think to yourself, “If I just had time,” or “If I just knew where to start?” and of course, “How do I start my own thing while I’m still employed by someone else?” So many of us get caught up in these thoughts because leaving the stability of a full-time job can be uncomfortable. Anything outside of what is familiar can feel overwhelming, and so, we stay with “miserable” and “comfortable.”  But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can prepare and take steps toward leaving the daily grind — going off on your own. 

Here are five steps for starting your transition from employee to self-employed:

1. Get Mad!

You have to get mad at your current situation. Getting mad is your defining moment. Getting mad lets you know that you have absolutely reached your threshold, and there’s no looking back, only forward. I had this exact moment one July day, and didn’t even see it coming. I had just finished a difficult sales call with a customer, walked out of his office into the Dallas 101 degree summer heat, got into my car, and read an undermining text from my boss. I thought, “I’m out. I’m done.” I was pissed, and it was the final straw that propelled me into entrepreneurship. Suddenly everything else was in the rear view mirror.

2. Fire Your Employer

The best way to start planning your own business is to fire your employer. Set your timeframe by deciding your date of departure from your organization. Maybe it is 120 days, or a year from now, but either way, you’ve now empowered yourself and set the wheels into motion. This will give you a feeling of excitement and peace, because you now know the exact day you will sign off from your company computer forever. You will see your future and this will push you to get your business going. You are your own boss now, so act like it.

3. Create a 30-Minute Plan

Now that you plan to work for yourself, but are still committed to the 9-5, do something each day for your new business — even if it’s just for 30 minutes. In the evenings, you may take 30 minutes to work on your business plan, or start to create a website. Over weekends you might attend a networking event or apply for your LLC. This way you’ll feel that your daily tasks will result in entrepreneurship — despite still having a full-time job. To be honest, some days will be better than others. Personal and professional commitments may get in the way of your daily 30-minute plan, but try and keep the momentum going, despite these challenges, and you will cross your finish line.

4. Set Your Start Date

Reinforce the entrepreneurial commitment to yourself by setting your start date. This will increase accountability to yourself and rev up your new mindset. You will begin to think on your terms, and not on someone else’s timesheet or bank account. Think about the time from your start date to your first day as an entrepreneur as your practice period. For instance, know that before you open your doors that you want to have 5-10 clients. Take that time to work out the kinks, troubleshoot and do any extra research and learning.

5. Plug and Play

You created a roadmap over the past few months; so now get ready to plug and play on your first day.  Depending on what your business is, have your website ready, your social media pages created, your online calendar set up, and a 90-day business plan ready to go. You’re ready to tackle your new world and have all the tools in place — be ready to go!

Making the transition from employee to entrepreneur is possible. It will feel exciting and uncomfortable at the same time. After all, by kicking 9-5 to the curb, you are pushing yourself into doing something different. But different is good. Just work your plan, embrace the change and be proud that you’re making a difference.


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