Have you ever imagined you could be happy in a completely different field than the one you’re in? Do you sit in meetings and daydream about what it would be like to be your own boss?
We have to ask…what’s holding you back?
There could be many reasons why you’re clinging to your economic security blanket. Maybe you’re freaked out about leaving the safety of a current job for the uncertainty of an irregular paycheque.
It’s smart to be cautious, but if you’ve been trying to juggle the thing you really love with the thing that pays the bills, it may be time to take the plunge. Or at the least, dip a toe into the wading pool of your dreams.
Here are 5 steps that will help you to live your passion, one toe at a time.
1. Get laser sharp with your idea
You’d be surprised how many people jump at the idea of leaving full-time work to do what they love, without first defining exactly what form that’s going to take. It’s important to get really, really focused.
If you’re the resident Instagrammer, decide how you’re going to harness your photography gifts, like setting up a house-call baby portrait business. If you’re the baker extraordinaire who dreams in cakes and pies, decide how to best support your sugar skills. Try establishing a stand with pies at the farmer’s market Friday through Sunday.
Attention to detail is not just for corporate jobs. It will make the transition out of the 9-5 a whole lot smoother. You’ll be more focused on your idea, brand, and message.
2. Do a little informal market research
Too many fledgling businesses have failed because their founders didn’t check to see if there was a market for their product or service before launching it. Find out if other people are really willing to buy what you want to sell.
If you want to leave your office job to take care of children, you’ll need to see whether there are children in your area that need nannies and whether there are already a wealth of qualified nannies to take care of them. Ask around, throw up a Facebook poll and check out the competition. This is your time to build a bridge between your vision and reality.
3. Be a weekend entrepreneur
If the thought of throwing away a safe, stable job for an untested passion scares the bejesus out of you, then the best time to start is while you still have a job. Use your evenings and weekends to start to grow your idea. Whether writing a blog or selling jewelry, be consistent with the number of hours you can afford to put in every week. You’ll get to deal with the initial ups and downs while still cashing in those paycheques, plus you’ll be getting an idea if there’s room for you and your business to grow.
4. Set up an emergency fund and ditch the vices
Before you launch off into entrepreneurial superstardom, have some money in the bank. Start saving, even for things like basic expenses while you’re getting your feet off the ground. Some debt is normal while you take risks, but you don’t want to worry about cellphone bills.
You’ll also need to start practicing living on less. Not many budding entrepreneurs are out shoe shopping every Saturday or indulging in expensive lunches. Oh, and while we’re talking finances, save all receipts. They’ll come in handy at tax time.
5. Build a support network of truth-tellers
There’s a difference between good friends (and family) and a real business support network. You’ll definitely need the former for emotional support and encouragement, but try to gather together three or four people who will really push you in your new direction.
They should be people who will hold you accountable for the things you say you’ll do and disagree with you when they think you need a second opinion. If you don’t know these people yet, consider forming an entrepreneurial meetup group in your area. Try to meet regularly for check-ins. Motivation can go a long way in terms of keeping you on the right track.
The most important thing? Don’t give up. Think long-term and give your new life the opportunity to thrive. Very few businesses are super successful straight away and a slow start certainly doesn’t mean you’ll have a slow business.
If this is what you want, even 20 hours a week can make a difference. Pursuing your passion is a risk.
If you think it will be worth it, it’s time to follow your heart.