When it comes to starting your own business, the timing is important — but not critical. If you have a good idea, a solid business plan, and adequate financing, then just about any time is the right time to launch out on your own.
While timing may not be the most critical factor, it can help. Great timing, on top of the rest of your planning and preparation, can be a revenue multiplier, helping you with much needed cash flow over those vital first six months. If you’ve been thinking about striking out on your own, here’s how you can tell if this is the right time for you to be launching a new business.
You’re Young Enough to Make a Go of It
I’m not suggesting you have to be 25 and at the peak of physical conditioning to start working for yourself — but it helps. For many people, launching their own business is an encore career choice. Whether you’re 25 or 55, you have to make the determination that you have the stamina and drive to make a go of the start-up phase of a new business, which can be quite demanding. Young people may be able to take the hours — but that’s also the point in life that many have just taken on responsibilities like a family, car payments, and a mortgage. For those starting later in life, after their kids are grown and gone, you have to decide if you really want to take on all that responsibility — rather than spending your free time on the golf course.
You’re Not Counting on Your Retirement Savings
If you’re counting your home equity or 401(k) or retirement investments as part of your start-up capital, stop right now. Even if you’re looking at your retirement account statement, thinking that if things don’t work out you can always retire, keep in mind what happened to the balances of those accounts just a few short years ago. On the flip side of that coin, it’s nice to have that cushion with the markets in record territory. If you’ve been thinking about converting some of your investments, other than retirement accounts, to help fund your startup, this may be the best moment in a decade for that financial move.
You Hate Your Job
As the recovery continues to limp along, employers are once again paying attention to raises and working conditions. All the same, during the dark days of double-digit unemployment, employers fell into some bad habits when they had 50 qualified applicants for every job opening. Having a job you hate really makes striking out on your own so much easier.
Possibly the toughest decision in life is walking away from a great job to start your own business. The longer you can put off making that tough decision, the better. If you’re one of the lucky few who have an awesome job, a super boss, and coworkers you like, then think very carefully before trading that for the hardscrabble existence that goes with being self employed. It’s better to work your own business as a sideline, if that’s at all possible, than give up a really good day job.
You Got Laid Off
If you’ve already been planning a move out on your own, a layoff notice is your ticket to the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Hopefully you’ve been working your independent career as a sideline job, perfecting your product offerings and business processes — and launching out on your own will be less complicated. Be sure to check if your state offers any kind of career training options for the recently unemployed. Many times, small business management classes will qualify under state programs. When it comes to running your own business, you can never have enough training.
You Have No Other Alternative
Sometimes the best time to launch out on your own is when you don’t have any other option. Maybe your sideline career is just one of those things you can’t leave alone; or you get a shot at an anchor contract that’s big enough to get you started. At a certain point, a successful sideline business will grow to engulf more time than you have available; other times the motivation may be internal.
The sideline business will start interfering with your work, and it’s better to leave on good terms than get fired for working a on an outside project during company time. It’s also not fair to your employer if you’re so distracted by your business that you’re not really putting your best efforts into your day job. Whenever the day dawns that your sideline business is cutting into your day job, that’s the right time to start your business.