June 09, 2015

5 Tips to Become a Full-Time Entrepreneur

Are you a full-time or part-time Entrepreneur?

I'm betting you're part-time if you've made your way to my blog, as it is extremely common these days with the instability of the economy to have multiple gigs on the go. 

The majority of clients I work with in my consulting practice are still working a part-time or in some cases, full-time job in addition to running an online eCommerce business.

I worked full-time (in a very high pressure, travel intensive consulting role) while starting Encircled.  It was difficult, challenging, frustrating, and limiting at times, but it also afforded me the security and funding to actually follow my dream.

Not everyone has the means or risk tolerance to just up and quit their full-time job. <-- Having a low risk tolerance, it should be noted does NOT make you a bad entrepreneur, it just makes you cautious. 

Nevertheless, I left my full-time job in November 2014, and recently just made the leap to move to a real office space for Encircled {and Retail Bliss, of course}. It IS possible to follow your heart and become a full-time entrepreneur. You just need to be smart about it.

5 Tips for Transitioning into a Full-Time Entrepreneur

1. Save More Money Than You Think You Need

If you have a low risk tolerance, and feel that the financial insecurity is holding you back, then take concerted steps to alleviate that risk.

I often read blogs that say you should save 6 months of living expenses. I say double it.

Nothing is worse than wondering where the money will come from for your next rent payment. It's emotionally draining, and will distract you from your entrepreneurial venture. 

Saving this amount of money is easier said than done for many of us, but for me, it took consistency, visibility into current spending and making smart decisions.

Bringing your lunch instead of buying it every day, walking instead of paying for parking, skipping that vacation abroad this year, setting up an automatic debit into your savings account, and watching your spending. I found Mint helpful for tracking what I was actually spending money on, and making adjustments as needed. You can even setup budgeting which will help you get on track.

Lastly, have a good lens into what money you actually need to live on. Create a spreadsheet and put down all of your fixed living expenses such as rent, cable, internet, car, insurance, food etc. Add a miscellaneous bucket for unexpected expenses of about 10%. Next, create a budget for more leisure spending (you do + should still enjoy life!) for things like concerts, dinners out and gifts. Now take that total and multiply it by 12 to reach your savings goal.


2. Know your Business' Financial Health

How many Entrepreneurs are tracking their cash flow on a daily basis? Not many. I can tell you (embarrassingly), that I just started doing this recently, and am in the process of hiring a bookkeeper to help. 

It is integral to know your eCommerce store inside and out in terms of how much profit and loss you are generating on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis, as well as how your cash flow works, your margins, your growth rates, and more. 

An online software like Quickbooks is a good solution for tracking your sales and expenses. They integrate with Shopify fairly easily, and you can setup your bank accounts, credit card and line of credit to auto load into their platform.

Although maintaining your financials can seem like a mundane task, it is critical to the success of your business. Start the setup of this now, and you will see dividends from this later on in your business journey. 


3. Make a Transition Plan

"A goal without a plan is just a wish."


If you want to be a full-time Entrepreneur, then make a transition plan. The value in doing this is in starting to wrap your head around what you need to do in order to make the leap.

I recommend using a spreadsheet or Google Doc to track the plan, and mark items off the list as they get done. 

You will want to start with a 'quit date' in mind for your full or part-time gig. Let's say end of November for this example.

Now, work backwards from that date and figure out exactly what you need to do.

As mentioned above, savings may be critical, so notate the steps you need to take to do that, and make sure you can save enough in the time before your quit date, otherwise move it back.

Examples of other things you may need to do are finding medical/health coverage, figuring out how and where you will operate your business, understanding if you will stay where you live or move, deciding on child care options, etc. 

Mapping out everything you need to do, and putting dates against it will help hold you accountable. If needed, put reminders in your calendar on your smartphone to trigger your mind + keep you on track.


4. Get your Business Plan in Order

I already mentioned knowing your business' financial health inside and out before making the leap, however, you should also have a locked-and-loaded business plan for the next 12 months in place.

How will you grow your revenue? What channels will you activate? What is your marketing spend? Will you need to hire anyone? How will you manage your costs?

All of these questions can be answered with a solid business plan

Writing a business plan can be an arduous task, however it does challenge you to think about where to next, a question often avoided by entrepreneurial startups.


5. Work on your Emotional Health

This is an often not spoken about topic in articles about becoming an entrepreneur, however the reality is that if and when you make the leap to leave your stable corporate job, it is likely that you will be unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster that will ensue.

Friends and family will either be your biggest cheerleaders or your worst enemies. 

When I left my full-time gig, I was lucky to have many supportive friends.

Although, I did have a few that asked when I mentioned I was quitting my job.. '..to do what?'. Even though, they full well knew that I was running two businesses on the side.

Making this massive choice in your life will undoubtedly bring up other people's insecurities. Anything life changing often does. 

Things to remember is that it's YOUR life, and YOUR choices. If you wake up one day, five years from now not having made this choice, will you regret it?

Do what's right for you and try to avoid the naysayers. They will always be there.


Are you ready to make the leap into a full-time role as an entrepreneur? Why or why not?

Leave it in the comments below!

Wishing you much abundance + retail bliss,

Principal Retail Consultant/Founder