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Top 10 Keys to Making the Transition from Corporate to Entrepreneurship

May 18, 2010
The continuing global slump and economic hiccups have a lot of people thinking about ways to supplement their income—and perhaps make the permanent leap to entrepreneurship.  You can do it but it takes some preparation.  I was a hybrid entrepreneur.  That is, I worked my full-time job while launching and building my business part-time. For more information and a roadmap on how to make it happen, check out my latest bookHybrid Entrepreneurship: How the Middle Class Can Beat the Slow Economy, Earn Extra Income and Reclaim the American Dream. For now, following are my top 10 keys for making the transition from corporate employment to full-time entrepreneurship:
  1. Start your business part-time and start making money: We are living in times of economic anxiety, some of it is real – some of it is simply emotion. Regardless, you can alleviate some of the stress of business start-up by maintaining your job.  This way you will not feel the fear that many often encounter when they realize that a steady paycheck will no longer be deposited into their account every two weeks.
  2. Get really clear with yourself about why you are starting a business in the first place: Some people want to start a business because they dislike authority or have been reprimanded for not doing a good job at work. If either of these—or any other arguably negative reason—are the motivations for your business start-up, you should find a more positive reason or re-assess your decision to become an entrepreneur.
  3. Turbo charge your networking to expand and diversify your relationships: Successful entrepreneurship is about what you know, who you know and who knows you and you want to already have relationships in place before you need to call on someone for help. So go make new friends, with particular focus on connecting with people you wouldn’t normally meet.
  4. Take every opportunity to sign up for training or on-the-job responsibilities that will enhance your entrepreneurial skill set: If your job has a training department or budget, take advantage of it.  Get training on things that would be helpful in business and that you are not already strong in; so if you’re a communicator and not great at number crunching, take some business financial management classes.
  5. Save as much money as possible—and take advantage of the new tax deductions you are privy to as a business owner to save more: You can never have too much money saved so cut expenses and aggressively save. Also, with your part-time business, eating, driving and other everyday activities can be tax deductible. Keep good records and take your deductions so you will pay less in taxes and put more toward savings.
  6. Validate your ideas by asking, asking, asking: Ask potential customers questions related to your idea so you can see what the real needs and desires are before investing too much time, money and energy in your idea. Paying customers make business fun so their opinions matter most.
  7. Create your own power: Seeking the approval of people who don’t matter depletes your power. Create your own power by feeding yourself with positivity and constructive feedback from others who have already achieved.
  8. Disregard the limitations that others will try to put on you or that you may put on yourself: Watch what you say. Words build kingdoms and tear them down. If you believe that you will be hindered in business because you’re a particular age, race, size, or of a certain background then that will be true. Believe in yourself!
  9. Address fear head on and ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen?: Fear will come. It’s natural.  But be courageous by facing the fear, addressing weaknesses and pressing forward. If the worst that could happen is that you might get a little embarrassed, or whatever the case may be, realize that someone else has survived it and you will too.
  10. Put management systems in place from day one: Flying by the seat of your pants in business can land you in hot water. Keep meticulous records and put management systems in place so that business will be a pleasure—not a pain.  Do this while you’re still on your job because it costs money to get professional help but once your systems are set up you’ll be prepared to build a profitable company.
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