10 thoughts on “How do I make the break from my 9-to-5 job?”

  1. My opinion is that you are asking a question you can only answer yourself.
    Do you really believe in this idea? Can it be made into a business model that will provide for you and your family?
    If yes, then asses your comfort levels with risk.
    Could you and your family live without the steady income of your 9 to 5? Are your children healthy and covered by insurance from your spouses side? If you are single, then these questions don’t necessarily apply but you still have to examine your ability to live without something that has been a constant for so many years.

    If it is possible to do, begin working on it gradually. Build the plan for your business as you solidify the product/service while maintaining your 9 to 5.
    Trust me. Cutting out some free time to explore and trial your idea is better than altering your life to pursue an intangible vision.}

  2. Thanks Mat, I was actually more interested in the approach mentioned in your 2nd half of the response above (the parallel-to-some point approach).}

  3. I agree with Matt, use your free time to research the market, define the customer need and possibly build a prototype. I wouldn’t recommend leaving your job to chase an idea, but to chase a product there is no other way.

    To set some expectations, you should plan on not having any income for at least one year. You might beat that mark, but you want to plan for the worst case.

    So, if in your free time you can define a product and a business that is a) addressing a real problem and b) will be able to compete with existing solutions then it’s up to you whether it’s worth a year of lost income (which is what you’re risking). However, if you decide it is going full time is the only way you’ll be able to make it real. There are too many distractions with the rest of life to allow you to move quickly enough – you need to make it your top priority (after family).

    Good luck!}

  4. My tips to you:

    1) Make sure your idea sounds true with real customers. Don’t listen to partners, suppliers, peers, friends or family, just real customer. And then, ask the real customer how much would he pay for it. Even if you are offering a free service, ask that question.

    2) Be careful with the legal implications of working on a prototype while employed. Some companies are very restrict about that and you might be surprise to learn that everything you do, on and off hours, belong to them. This is even more dangerous if your idea will compete with your existing employer.

    3) If you think you’ll need 1 year without a salary, make sure that you can go 2 years without it. I thought I’d go 1 year without a salary, so I had a buffer of 6 more months. So far it has been 30 months without a salary. I wouldn’t worry about 30 months, most people are not as stubborn and persistent as I am.

    Good luck.}

  5. Ravneet that’s a question most of the entrepreneurs face before starting out.
    i) If you are young and have a buffer for 1-2 years, It is worth it to take the plunge.
    ii) However, if you have some personal commitments, it would be better to keep your day job and burn the midnight oil atleast until you make decent headway.

    I had taken the first step, but had to back out for many reasons. Now on the second path. ;)}

  6. It’s a tough call, because I’m a pretty firm believer that it just doesn’t work in half measures. Both feet or neither, and the same goes for the level of risk tolerance that’s required.

    Sadly, while the idea of working on things after hours and still getting that paycheck is appealing, the reality is that time to market and focus are critical. If it’s a really good idea that can be turned into a really good business plan, which in turn can be a real, profitable business, chances are someone else is on it, sweating blood, 24/7.

    Research is great, planning is great, but they can also be excuses for not getting started.}

  7. There are other challenges with so-called “moonlighting” too, such as protecting your IP from your current employer. Sadly, this can be tricky. CHECK IN TMRW for a great post on the “Dangers of Moonlighting” by a Found|READ-er who tried it…with some negative consequences.}

  8. I echo the sentiment that this is something only you can answer for yourself. Each person’s situation and reason for going this route are different so only you can make the call if it is a good deal or not.

    I had been in your situation and I am doing something about it. I’ve been blogging in real time about the entire process of my current startup in hopes that others can follow and learn from my triumphs and defeats.}

  9. I’ll take what’s apparently the minority view here, and that is there’s a middle ground. Hopefully whatever product or service you’re thinking about is derived from a customer need. If there is a customer need, then customers are somehow dealing with the issues already, usually by hacking together a bunch of parts into a less-than-satisfactory Frankenstein solution. Start doing contracting/consulting to help people duct tape their solution together. You’ll get enough income to keep the wolves at bay a little longer than if you have no paycheck, and you’re getting additional experience and contacts down in the boiler room where the fires of desperation will set you up with the first customers for your new product.}

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