An Employee’s Guide to Becoming a Business Owner


If you’re a full-time employee, chances are you have already thought about resigning to start your own business. While employment grants you the benefits of a stable income and benefits, running your own business can be more beneficial if you like to take charge of your own income. That said, becoming a business owner can be a big and risky step from your cushy 9-to-5; it takes a lot of guts and self-assessment to make that first step count.

The shift from employee to entrepreneur often starts on rough roads, especially if you don’t have a lot of resources and financial backing. Still, the dream of running a successful venture doesn’t have to be impossible as long as you have the motivation and foresight to pursue your dream.

If you’re dead set on leaving your job to pursue business ownership full-time, here’s a short guide to help you get started.

Know Your Priorities

The first step to becoming a business owner is being sure that this path is right for you. Simply put, before you send that two-week notice to set up shop, you need to be fully convinced that entrepreneurship is the right option.

To start, you may need to reassess your motivation for starting a business. If you’re driven by the preconception that business owners make more money and set their own schedules, you could be left unprepared for the challenges and therefore unable to sustain your venture in the long run. Similarly, if you only want to start a business because you are dissatisfied with your job, you may want to consider shifting industries or finding work with another employer first.

On the other hand, if you have a vision for a feasible venture, a means for funding, and a rough plan for success, you’ve already laid the groundwork for a life-changing career shift.

Get Your Finances in Order

To put it bluntly, running a business takes a lot of bootstrapping from the get-go. If you’re used to living paycheck to paycheck, you may need to fatten up your savings before opting for full-time entrepreneurship. Having a stable job gives you the assurance of a salary, while businesses can take a while to take off and start generating profits to replenish your funds.

As such, you need to make sure that you have at least saved up enough money for both everyday survival and business operations. It may help to explore external funding sources to shoulder at least some of the expenses, let’s say an online loan for initial store equipment or raw materials. You can also take a side hustle or funnel cash into investments (i.e., real estate) to ensure that you have an ongoing income stream for capital and operational expenditure.

Alternatively, you can choose to hold on to your job for a while and start your business as a side hustle. Once your business gains some traction and has sustained enough funding, you can pivot from there and start expanding your venture. If you’re lucky and gutsy, you can also try pitching your business to investors to acquire additional capital.

Take the Time to Plan and Position Yourself

As any would-be entrepreneur would know, you need a solid business plan to guide your venture toward long-term success. You can start by taking the time to comprehensively plan out your niche and target market. Typically, it’s also during this stage that you will fully determine the kind of business you want to be. Are you leaning toward franchising or building a startup? Do you want to operate on your own or would you prefer a partnership? It’s these questions that will serve as the framework for your ongoing decisions as your business grows.

Additionally, you can use this time to plan your budget and come up with a few initial ideas on how to market your services. Do you intend to advertise your products and services on social media, e-commerce stores, or food apps? Are you planning to open a physical store or are you all-digital? These matters must be fleshed out during the planning process and will help you set long- and short-term goals for your business.

With all this in mind, it should be no surprise that market research also plays an important role in helping you strategize your competitive advantage. When doing your research, find out what your competitors lack and establish ways to offer these. Ultimately, what matters is that you believe in your own efforts and that you’re passionate about what you’re trying to sell.

Condition Your Mind into Thinking Like a Business Owner

As cliche as it sounds, achieving entrepreneurial success usually boils down to having the right attitude. If you want to leave the paycheck life behind, make sure that you are already thinking like a business owner. This means having the initiative to find opportunities for growth, being organized and level-headed in decision-making, and taking charge of your ship—even if it means having to do things by yourself from time to time.

More than that, you must also be willing to put in extended hours for the sake of your business. Being an employee requires you to work for the time indicated in your job description, but as a business owner, you have to be prepared to give up that routine work schedule and wear multiple hats.

Lastly, you must be prepared to take risks and learn from them when times get rough. To add to that, it’s crucial that you have a sharpened sense of timing—a sound sense of when to push through or take a step back.

A Smooth Transition Takes Passion, Planning, and Mindset

Shifting careers is never easy, more so if such transitions require major adjustments in how you sustain an income. At the end of the day, however, it takes a degree of initiative and passion to shift smoothly from employee to employer. No business is immediately successful, and most business leaders were also salaried workers at some point in their lives.

Preparation and planning are often the keys to success, but most importantly, you need the willingness to take risks in order to become a bona fide entrepreneur.

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