When to leave your Job to start a business

This post is inspired by a recent question I was asked by Rory Walker (@redrory) via twitter, about how I made the transition from a full-time job (Research & Development Analyst at Guardian Life Ltd.) to working full-time in my own company (Balcostics Ltd.).

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Factors in Making the decision:

  • Clear major debt –after finishing UWI, as with most graduates these days, I had my Student Loan to repay. Repaying this debt was my highest priority; since certain types of debt limit your ability to take risk (even when great opportunities present themselves). Thus, once I got hired most of my income went to debt repayment.
  • Working part-time on the business, while working full-time day job – My day job covered monthly expenses (food, rent etc.) which provided the opportunity to invest & re-invest most income earned from Balcostics back into the company.
  • Start branding and building relationships with potential customers – these days, it’s very easy to get the word out about your business, with continuous access to social media and low cost web development. Initially, we started investing lots of time and fair amount of money to build a website and develop social media presence. Again, testing our ideas to see if a company (any company) would exchange their cash for the value we were offering (Research outsourcing). Remember, you don’t have a business until you have a paying customer! Get your first customer and learn all you can from them (collect feedback & do your research).
  • Too much to handle, time to go! My final decision to leave Guardian Life came when I started having problems balancing full-time work responsibilities with part-time, start-up opportunities. I was frequently doing 16 hour days and as young and energetic as I am, this lifestyle is not sustainable! In addition, Balcostics was starting to get some press attention and we didn’t want any conflict of interest issues once the company went public (in terms of exposure).

Additional Lessons:

  1. Work for the experience – If your ultimate goal in life is to own a restaurant business, then get a full-time or part-time job in a restaurant (whether you have a UWI degree in law or economics). The best way to learn is by doing!
  2. When you’re leaving a company, leave on the best terms possible! The world is a small place; never disrespect those who gave you opportunities (regardless of past disagreements etc.)
  3. Be thankful & appreciative of those who gave a helping hand – I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity Guardian Life gave me and I was blessed to have a manager who played a significant role in my personal & professional growth. Managing my own business & people, I now fully understand all the troubles she had with me :-).

Since going full-time with Balcostics, throughout all the ups and downs, business continues to get better. We’re now in our 2nd official year as an operating company, and I’m thankful to all our customers, friends, families and colleague who continue to show their support in various ways.

What’s your experience? Did you take a similar route in leaving a job to do business? Or, do you have plans to leave your current job, to focus full-time on your own business? Do share in the comments below,

blessings

Written by: Luwayne Thomas (Co-Founder @Balcostics)

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