By Stephen A. Taylor, JD, CFP®

I remember the day vividly when I knew I had to change what I was doing. I sat in a chair in the middle of my house watching my wife make dinner and my kids run around me. For 3 days I had been involved in the most disheartening display of gaming the system I had ever seen. As I spoke with more people and learned more of the background of what happened, I could see at ever step how the foxes got in the hen house. At every step I was too late and as each claw sank in, the ability to get away became impossible. For those that had been through this before, they quickly pivoted to making the best deal for them in the situation as they knew the die had been cast. I knew then and there that the system wasn’t broken, it was working exactly as designed. My decision was clear, either deal with it or get out. I got out.

In today’s reality, people are being forced to make hard decisions. Many large companies are being forced to do the same. Whether it’s forced upon you or you make the decision yourself, change ALWAYS brings opportunities. When the opportunity to change your path arises, what items should you take into account to give you the best possible change of actually arriving at your new destination.

Why are you doing it?

Are you looking to simply make more money, have a better quality of life or both?  Be very clear and careful to be certain you are running TOWARDS something rather than AWAY from something.  Sit down with those closest to you and really try to lay out what is most important to you at this time in your life and make sure this transition takes you towards that.  Whether you stay or whether you go, know that you will be fine.  Move towards what you feel will make you happiest.

What should you do?

Pursue a Passion, solve a problem or help people.  See Post here about bringing passion to your business.

Give yourself as long of a runway as you can.

One of the biggest mistake first time entrepreneur’s make is underestimating the time and cost it will take to get your new venture going. While having a plan and strategy in place is vital to success, many of the deadlines put out there are truly arbitrary.  While it’s critical to set goals and track your progress, they must be realistic and used to move you forward rather than derail your venture.  To start something new requires an extraordinary amount of work and faith in what you are doing. Doubt will try to creep in at every step of the way, but you must stay vigilant to keep it out.  If you don’t meet a goal, it’s very important to understand why.  Many times you will find the goal was not a realistic one and knowing what you now know, additional time is needed.  Be prepared for that and be quick to forgive yourself when a mistake is made.  Be very careful with deadlines also, they are usually completly arbitrary and don’t truly reflect the success of what you are trying to accomplish.  The famous story in think and grow rich of stopping a 1/2 mile away from the oil.  Make sure your runway is as long as you can possibly make it.

You don’t have to jump ship to start swimming.

When I made my first move towards having my own business nearly 20 years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I quit my job at the law firm I was working at prior to my training for the new job to even begin.  It was simply my lack of patience and inexperience that made me make that decision.  In so many situations, you are able to stay working at the job you currently have as you start learning the ropes in your new venture.  It may take working long evenings and weekends, but if you are able to keep an income coming in while you look into your new career, it makes your runway just that much longer.   Be patient and don’t leave until you absolutely have to.

Keep the Imposter under control.

One of the biggest challenges we all have when starting something new is the fear of why would anyone buy from/pay/hire/engage you in this business you just started?  This is called the Impostor Syndrome.  It’s goes along with the same idea of wanting to hire someone with experience but how do they get experience if you don’t hire them?  As I said before, faith and confidence are critical in starting up a business. While you may want to know everything there is to know right away, it’s simply not possible.  What you need to know and believe is that even if you don’t have the answer off the top of your head, you know exactly where to go to get it.  Never be afraid to say “That’s a great question Mr. or Mrs. Prospect, while I believe I know the answer to your question, would you mind me double checking prior to comitting to that answer?”  Also, while you may not be an expert in your new job, you are an expert on your own strengths and why you feel you’d be a great person for that customer/client to do business with.  Focus on your skills and service you are going to give to that customer/client.  If you have the belief and confidence that you will do a good job, your prospective customers will see it also.

Set up your support system and be quick to ask for help

As you start this journey, it’s critical to make sure your signficant other is on board with this decision.  I’ve seen so many times that they are more confident and believe in you more than you do. It’ll be critical to have that support as there will be difficult moments ahead.  Remember also that ever single person that has ever started any type of business whatsoever has always gotten a ton of help to get started.  Don’t let your ego or pride get in the way.  Seek out those who are successfull at what you’re trying to do and ask to buy them a coffee.  It is natural for us as people to want to help other people, most especially those who are trying to do what we have done.  Just be sure that when you get there, be sure to reach back and give someone behind you a helping hand.

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