Once upon a time finding a cushy office job with a regular salary and great benefits was the dream. Unfortunately, that dream is quickly becoming unattainable for the vast majority of job seekers. Corporate downsizing, terrible corporate culture mechanisms, etc., have all made it incredibly difficult to find this type of job and even harder to keep it. It's no wonder that so many people are choosing to jump corporate ship and go into business for themselves.
It might also be due to the fact that the globalization of our work and sales venues has made it easier than ever to start just about any kind of business you want, from wherever in the world you want to live–with relatively little expense.
Before you re-enact Jim Breuer's famous scene from Half Baked, though, it's important to make sure you have a plan for both your finances and your startup's execution in place.
Do Your Research
Let's say you want to leave your cubicle and become a micro brewer. A lot of people have managed to turn their own garage or kitchen based home-brewing setups into successful businesses. Just look at Elysian Brewery. Elysian Brewery started out as a small venture between friends in Seattle twenty years ago and was sold to Anheuser-Busch at the start of this year. Or, if you'd prefer to stay small, check out the craft beer scene in cities like Portland where going to a pub and asking for something local means limiting your choices to beers brewed either on-site (like at the Green Dragon Pub) or within a mile or so radius of the pub in which you're sitting.
Before you can be your neighborhood's best kept brewing secret, you have to learn how to actually brew your own beer. You have to practice at it and you have to invest some significant change into your brewing equipment–even home brewing is going to be expensive to set up.
Practice at home in your spare time and on weekends before you quit your job to make brewing your full time gig. Learn the ropes of the trade. Meet with other local brewers and ask how they did it. Learn from their mistakes.
Get an Education
Some of the careers you want to have can't be simply be started with some equipment and a how-to book you got at the library. For example, if you want to become a massage therapist, you can't just declare yourself a masseuse and start kneading people…at least, not if you don't want to find yourself in trouble with the law.
You'll need to get your degree in massage therapy and take your licensing exams before you can start marketing your skills and jump into the freelance pool. The good news is that, for the most part, these classes can be fit in around an existing day job's schedule. Many local community colleges offer evening classes and accelerated programs to help you get your license as quickly as possible.
Once you have your degree, you can start shopping for massage therapy tables and marketing your skills or even join a clinic or spa's payroll if you're hoping for something more steady. But don't quit that cushy job until you've completed your education and training!
Save Your Pennies
The rule of thumb is making sure to save up enough money to cover your living expenses for about six months before you leave your day job behind and leap into the world of freelance and startups. That might take a year or two to accomplish, but trust us–that little nest egg you're building will be worth it, especially if you choose a line of work that doesn't offer immediate payments.
Freelance writing, for example, is often touted as one of the easiest ways to earn extra money and to go into business for yourself. Unlike brewing (where you tend to get paid in advance for product purchased by local pubs and stores) and massage therapy (where you tend to be paid immediately after a session), however, there is considerable lag time between writing a piece and getting paid for it. Depending on the type of writing you choose to do, you might have months of lag time between turning in a piece and getting paid for it.
Having savings built up will make it easier for you to stay afloat while you wait for those checks to start rolling in.
Striking out on your own is definitely worth exploring! Just make sure you do your research, get any education or training you'll need out of the way and build up some savings before you jump ship.