Are you ready to become a full-time entrepreneur?

How do you know when to quit the day-job and go all-in?

“Entrepreneur – a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”

This is the dictionary definition, but what does the word actually mean to you?

Entrepreneurs are like DNA – no two startup journeys are ever the same, they’re unique. However, there are common patterns and problems that everyone goes through when they start a business. When you understand what they are you can reduce your risks and make starting your dream business a whole lot easier and enjoyable.

Since 2014, over 2.4 million limited companies have been created in the UK, according to the UK Startup Tracker. This figure doesn’t even include people who set up as a sole trader or partnership. So, why is the figure so high, what has created the rise in entrepreneurship?

In this series of blogs, we’re going to explore why so many people are starting a business and the challenges they face. We’ll look at real-life examples from some of the people I’ve helped to grow successful and fulfilling businesses.

We’re going to look at starting a business from the perspectives of four common types of would-be entrepreneur.

  1. “The Want-repreneur” – I want to have my own business, but I have no idea where to start
  2.  “The Parent-preneur” – “I love my kids, but I feel like I’m stagnating – I can do more”
  3. “The Social-preneur” – “I feel I can make a difference to other people and the world as a whole”
  4. “The Part-time-preneur – “I love this and I’m going to make it work, but it’s so hard doing two jobs”

In this blog, we’ll explore the challenges of starting a business alongside a regular job or as I sometimes call them, the “Part-time-preneurs”. We’ll look at ten tips you can follow to make the move to full-time business owner.

Introduction

Ok so it may be a horrible made-up word, but what makes you a part-time-preneur?
  1. You’ve started a business alongside your existing job, but you’re getting tired working evenings and weekends on top of your day job
  2. Your friends are giving you a hard time because you never see them and don’t understand your drive to set up a successful business
  3. Your partner doesn’t support you and thinks you’re just “playing at having a business”. They want you to give it up and spend more time with them
  4. You’re making some money from your business, but you’re having sleepless nights because you’re not sure if you can convert that into a sustainable income
  5. You’ve put your head above the parapet and told everyone you have your own business and it would be embarrassing if it failed
  6. You’re frustrated that it’s taking so long to get to where you want it to be and sometimes you feel like giving up

Do any of these sound familiar?

Let me tell you a secret, you're not alone!!

Believe me, I've felt every single one of them, and so has our friend and client Robert Leat. Robert now has his own personal training business in Bristol - RL Fitness

We caught up with Robert to talk about the ups and downs he’s experienced so far on his journey.

Alison: Please can you explain a bit of your backstory for our readers?

Robert: I’ve always been into sport, I was a middle-distance runner in my teens. I moved to Bath in 2012 to study a health and fitness degree at the University of Bath. Whilst at the university, I did my level 2 fitness instructor and level 3 personal trainer qualifications.  After graduating I moved to Bristol to work at the Centre for Sport Gym whilst I finished my Personal Trainer qualification. Once qualified as a Personal Trainer I got a job with the Gym Group in Bristol. So without really meaning to, I started a business because the role was self-employed.

Alison: Great – so how did you manage running a business alongside working a full-time job?

Robert: Initially I struggled working at two gyms and trying to build a client base. It was easier in the summer as I worked fewer hours at UWE, but to pay the bills I had to get another job working for a hotel leisure club. The hotel leisure club job was initially just weekends but eventually started to get in the way of the growth of my PT business, as they made me work more hours. So, I quit in February 2017 and went full time as a PT.

Alison: Wow, so how did it feel when you decided to leave your job?

Robert: It felt really good when I quit a job I hated to go full time with my business. It allowed me more freedom and time to work on scaling the business, but the fear of failing and not being able to pay my bills was still in the back of my mind.

Alison: And so what sort of challenges are you facing now that you’re focusing on your own business?

Robert: The biggest struggle at the moment is cash flow and finding a consistent lead generation source.

Alison: How are you overcoming your challenges?

Robert: Early on I realised the skills I learned to become a PT were different to the skill set required to become a successful entrepreneur. So I signed up for your Secrets of Successful Sales course. Not only was it fun, but it changed my mindset and made me realise sales had to be at the centre of my business.

The skills I learned from you, are really helping me to gain new customers. I’m a regular attendee at networking events and most of my clients come from people I’ve met and followed up with there as well as recommendations from existing clients. The nature of my business means that clients drop off from time to time, so focusing on looking for new clients as well as looking after existing clients – it helps me maintain a steady cash flow.

Top Tips

Here are ten things you can do to make a smooth transition from part-time-preneur to full time business owner

1. Figure out how much you need to survive

Start off by looking at your personal budget. How much do you need to live, rent/mortgage, bills etc? This is an indicator of how much you’ll have to take out of the business when you run it full time. Don’t forget to add in a contingency plan for – cars break down, boilers stop working – make sure you account for this in your personal finance plan.

2. Set a financial plan

When you know your personal financial goals it’s easier to set your business goals. You’ll know how much you need to sell every month, and what your overheads are.

Use the rule of thirds to forecast your turnover and profit. it will help create a clear plan as to when you can leave work and become a full-time entrepreneur. Here’s an example of what I mean. Let’s say you’re a coach or service provider:

  • If your weekly costs are £750, your sales target should be £2,250 turnover
  • This gives a third for you and a third to stay in the company
  • Say you bill three days per week, your day rate to hit the target is going to be £750 per day

Of course, this formula will vary based on the number of days paid work you can get each week, if you put that up to £1,000 per day it means you have to work fewer days to hit the target. You can also vary the amount you choose to pay yourself, leave it in the company, or re-invest.

3. Countdown

When you understand the numbers it will give you a deadline date for when it’s safe to leave work. Make it visual and use tools like Countdown!! which pop up every day on your phone. This will keep you focused on becoming your own boss. By being organised it will reduce the stress and help you sleep easy at night.

4. Start lean

I hear of so many people who spend a fortune at the beginning. DON’T!! You can start a business for under £100. A good friend of Team Godmother, is Emma Jones, MBE the founder of Enterprise Nation. In Emma’s book, ‘Starting a Business for £99’, she discusses the ‘5-9 rule’. This is where until your business is ready, and making more money than your job, you should work in it 5-9 rather than 9-5.

5. Remember WHY you are doing it

Being a part-time entrepreneur can be overwhelming. At times you’ll feel you can’t do it and will want to give up. During the dark days, remember WHY you started the business in the first place. For me I know have a talent for teaching people to sell – that’s my ‘WHY’. If I had given up, thousands of people would not have benefited from my method and experience, and their businesses would not have been successful.

6. Keep your friends close

This was one of my biggest challenges. None of my friends had their own business, and as an ultra-sociable person, I was always at the centre of organising parties and events. So when I more or less dumped them in favour of doing emails, writing a book and hanging out with entrepreneurs, it didn’t go down too well. At the start of the journey, try and explain why it means so much to you and that you need them in your corner. If they understand why you are doing it they will be more supportive even if you don’t see them as much.

7. Failure is an option

Steve Jobs, Sir James Dyson and Walt Disney all failed before they succeeded. It’s ok to fail because learning from your mistakes will make you stronger. Starting off as a part-time-preneur means you have the safety net of your regular job if your business fails. It will give you time to tweak your idea and come back stronger and bolder than ever. It’s about having the right mindset – a growth mindset!

8. Be patient

I started my business in 2011 but didn’t give up my job till 2013. There were many times I wanted to hand in my notice and jump ship to become a full-time entrepreneur, but its best to wait till the money you earn in your business catches up with the salary and benefits from your job. Being an entrepreneur is a marathon, not a sprint.

9. Manage your time

No employer wants an employee who doesn’t give their all. Look at it as business karma. Fast forward to when you become the employer yourself. You won’t be happy if someone you hire is working on their business while you’re paying them. So, it’s important to compartmentalise your time. There are lots of free tools you can use to help with being more organised. It’s a really important habit to develop at the start of your journey as it creates good foundations for your business. Our favourite tool is 9Spokes, it allows you to place all of your business data – cashflow, google analytics, social media – in one place giving you more time to focus on actually building your business without flicking through loads of tabs and login screens and wasting your precious time.

10. Take it seriously

Seriously – act like you mean it! When I started out my lack of self-confidence meant that a lot of my family and friends thought I was “playing shop”. It was only with I started focusing and taking things seriously that I earned their respect and started to see results. Imposter Syndrome hits us all at some time or another, don’t worry you are not the only one who feels it.

Next Steps

Timing is everything

The important thing about being a part-time-preneur is knowing when to make the jump to full time, this was almost decided for Robert, but this isn’t the case with everyone. My main piece of advice is about timing. Don’t rush it, but also don’t doubt yourself. Make a decision based on facts. The Tom Daley moment, as I call it, is when you decide to dive in and when the time comes it takes total commitment.

It’s never going to be an easy decision to make, so I’ve put together some online courses to help.

The Guide to Starting a Business – does what it says on the tin! It covers all the big questions you need to answer before you dive in and gives you lots of practical exercises to work through. Alternatively, you could try one of my free courses.

The Guide to Starting a BusinessFree courses
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