If you are wavering between whether or not to take the leap into becoming a full entrepreneur and going after your dream, here are a few tips from a woman who has stood right where you are standing now: in the uncomfortable and daunting land of career change. Yes, it's super scary to let go of other streams of income and make the leap full throttle into start-up territory. But you have to take risks if you want to soar. When investors ask if you have another full time job on top of your new project, product or business, the answer they want to hear is, “no”. Investors want to see you are fully committed to your idea because if you're not, why should anyone else be? We got so enthusiastic about our #tipfortuesday this week on twitter (follow us if you haven’t already: @productmama), that we decided to continue with our Halloween-inspired theme of self-reinvention, and provided a more detailed list of tips here. Enjoy (:
Tip#1: Set Yourself Up
Save up at least six months worth of living costs--and preferably enough to last more than a year. Not only will this give you a buffer, it'll teach you how to scrimp, save, and get creative with frugality because finances for a startup are often slim. Give yourself 18 months to save up 6 months of your safety net, while you are formulating your idea.
Tip#2: Give Yourself a Timeline and STICK TO IT
It can be difficult to adhere to self-imposed deadlines because, well, life happens and let’s be honest, you’re probably not going to slap yourself on the wrist too hard. But self-discipline is key to becoming a successful entrepreneur so prioritize your calendar!
Tip #3: Draft a Plan and Take Steps to Get There
You won’t get where you want to be if you wing it. While creativity and self-expression can be a huge part of the entrepreneurial process, there is still that little (just kidding, HUGE) element called business savvy. Create a business plan with goal marks to strive for.
Tip #4: Find out if your Idea is a Winner
If you ever had an idea and never went for it, saw it in a store months or years later and thought, “Why didn’t I do it?” you might need a few tips on how to make that leap and take a chance on YOU. Make sure to do your research to see if your idea is already out there. Search, seek and ask. Scour the internet and search in stores (in person and online) to see if you can find it. Ask others you trust if they have ever heard of this idea and what they think about it. When I came up with my “aha” idea I spent weeks researching to make sure it was not already being done, when I was certain it wasn’t or it was different enough to make a difference, I went for it.
Tip #5: Your Idea Sounds Like a Winner with a Capital W. Now make it official and protect it!
Pick a name that is clever, but says what it is or does. Look at Go Daddy or Network Solutions and see if your name has been taken or is available, if so grab the domain. Often you will have to be creative to come up with a name that is not taken, my original product name changed three times until I hit the “available” jackpot. Seek out a trademark attorney or do it yourself on a legal site and see if you can trademark your name. Find out if you should patent your idea or design (a provisional patent will cover you for one year while you are deciding if this is a “go for it” idea).
Tip #6: Create a Plan and Get Help!
Develop a plan of how you are going to accomplish creating your idea. Get advice from others who know what you don’t know and have done this before. Asking for help is the biggest step you can take toward making your idea real. I did a lot of asking and at that time did not get a lot of answers, very frustrating but it lead me to knowing the answers to help others and to work harder toward making my idea and dream happen.
Tip #7: Believe in Yourself and Your Dream!
It is so scary to just plain go for it. You need to be your best cheerleader and in moments of self-doubt, or doubts from others, remember, “if not you, then who?” and that “no” should always be answered with “why not”.
For those of you unsure about taking the next step towards following your dreams and reinventing your career, I hope these tips provided not only a roadmap, but a little inspiration to get you going as well. Remember, I was once in your shoes and I can say that my decision to pursue my passion and become an entrepreneur has been one of the best of my life. I thought it. I dreamt it. I did it. So can you.