The greatest nightmare of every potential entrepreneur currently working for a company is trying to figure out when and how to exit to start his/her own company or startup.
Although this may seem to be the readily available option when that your idea that could become the “Next big thing” keeps chasing after you in the dream like every other night.
but in reality, this should be a secondary thought while you are still working to perfect the idea. At this point, your potential startup is said to be in the ideation stage.
At the ideation stage, a lot of background work and research is required to validate and refine the idea. This is no time for implementation and as such should not interfere with your current job.
Below are five things you should perfect before exiting your job to build your own Startup.
Develop, refine and test your idea before quitting
One of the biggest mistakes made by most startup founders is to jump start into implementation of their supposed “million dollar idea”. Many have quit their high paying jobs prematurely to navigate muddy waters of building their own startups.
In the course of consulting for startups, I discovered that most startup founders would have scaled faster if they had taken time to develop, refine and test their ideas before jump starting into its full implementation.
Eric Ries, the initiator of the lean startup methodology, defines a startup as:
A human institution designed to create a new product or service under condition of extreme uncertainty.
On this premise of extreme uncertainty, a conceived idea must first be developed through adequate market research to determine its feasibility, problem/solution fit and its unique value proposition- UVP (What makes proposed solution uniquely different from existing alternatives). This help refine the idea.
The initial conception of an idea is based on untested hypothesis that may likely prove otherwise, therefore the actual testing/experimentation of the idea in real-life scenario becomes imperative.
The Build-Measure-Learn loop, developed by Eric Ries, is an effective methodology for testing your initial idea. This methodology simply requires that the initiator of an idea develops a tentative prototype of his solution, get potential customers to use it, document and measure feedback from users. The outcome of this method at the end of each loop forms the basis for continuous learning as reflected in the diagram below.
This avoid the enormous resource wasted as a result of building a solution nobody eventually needs. The fact is, not every idea is worth giving your time and resource.
This approach should be adopted to validate an idea in a relatively small scale while you are still gainfully employed.
Take your time to learn the Art of Business Management
One of the greatest advantage of working a paid job before starting your own business is the exposure to the dynamics of effective business management.
A recent research by the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship based on a survey of 549 company founders across a variety of industries, titled – The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur reported that:
75.4 Percent of successful startup founders had worked as employees at other companies for more that six years before launching their own companies.
This attests to the fact that the experience and skills acquired by an entrepreneur, previously working as employees in other companies is instrumental to the success of their startups.
In an Article featured on Medium.com, Tayo Oviosu, founder of Paga.com – a leading payment service startup in Nigeria and former employee at Cisco in Sillicon Valley argued that the best way to learn the soft skill needed to execute a successful startup can only come from years of work experience. He said:
No matter how smart you are, the sure way to learn these soft skills is years of work experience. Those years of work experience also teach you how to work through others, drive sales targets, make sales pitches or give presentations, get knocked down and back up again.
If consciously done, startup founders can learn their organization’s business operations and effective management practices. These includes human resource sourcing and management, ethics and values, product development strategy, branding and product marketing etc. All these are wealth of experience they can bring in to bootstrap their startup without hiring some professional management consultant at exorbitant fee.
Leverage on your current employer’s Network and Resource
Most startup founders have failed to harness the huge resource and network of their employers before exiting to found their own startup. Before quitting your regular job, take time to build a strong relationship with at least a member of the board of the company, company consultants, clients etc. The reason is that these ones may later make the advisory board or investors of your startup. Although this may not come easy, but a consciously effort dedicated to building this bond will worth it at the end.
Your employer’s internet, research data, workspace etc. could also tentatively serve for incubating your idea before your finally exit.
Save Save and the Save
Navigating the web of uncertainty of the startup journey is one that requires adequate funding. Early funding of the startup must be the sole responsibility of the founder. A common question thrown at founders by venture capitalists during a pitch is “How much have you invested in your startup?”. This makes obvious the fact that before a founder secures external fund, he must have demonstrated how he invested a substantial amount of his personal income to bootstrap his startup.
Also, a major cause of startup failure is the frustration that arises due to lack of early venture investment in the startup. This is where the money saved by the founder becomes the lifeline of the startup.
It is imperative therefore to save substantially for the tough times before quitting your regular job.
Got an experience about quitting your job? Kindly share in the comment box below.