Make the jump from employed to entrepreneur

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Do you work a 9-5 job, but dream of breaking free and setting up in business for yourself?

You are not alone, according to a Gallup study which finds that 87 per cent of workers around the world don’t feel engaged in their place of work. While it’s easy to talk about going self-employed, the thought of leaving a stable occupation can be unnerving enough to prevent action from being taken.

But research shows that ‘hybrid entrepreneurs’ – those who launch a new business while working full-time – are a third less likely to fail than those who make the move a standing start.

So, you could already in a great place to make progress. Now read on for advice that should further equip you for taking the leap towards building your own enterprise.

Play by the rules (for now)

Entrepreneurs are known to break the rules a little, but don’t go maverick just yet; as an employee, you still have to respect your contract terms and anything else that holds your signature. Being aware of contractual clauses will be doubly important if you’re planning on moving into a similar industry as your employer, as there may be a conflict of interests.

Be fully open and honest with your boss about what your intentions and ambitions are, and be careful not to burn any bridges – it’s likely that a good, working relationship will be mutually beneficial to you and your boss alike.

Also, make sure any research into setting up your own business is conducted on your own time, not your company’s.

Respect your own intuition

The beauty and the danger of entrepreneurship is the absence of structure – there’s no one way to make it happen. On the flipside, nobody’s going to tap you on the shoulder and prompt you to start your own business. But there will be signs and signals telling you you’re ready to take your dreams seriously.

For Go Compare founder, Hayley Parsons, these stemmed from an awareness of personal strengths and a desire to develop.

“I was always keen to learn as much as I could, progress and move on. I knew that when I came to the point in my job at which I could learn no more, I would have to look for more, and it led to the biggest learning curve of my life.

I woke up the day after resigning knowing that I had to make this happen. I had the drive, passion and knowledge to make it work,” she says.

In December 2014, when Hayley Parsons left the firm she had spent eight years building from nothing, Go Compare was valued at £190 million.

Plan your time meticulously

Time is the one thing entrepreneurs seem to be short on. If you’re working a full calendar too, you’ll have to make time to work on your new enterprise.

Allocating space in your schedule for business-building will not only organise your available hours, but will help you take your new exploits more seriously. Eventually you may find that any extra time you have becomes devoted to new projects, so be just as wary of burn-out.

Break time needs to be more than lying face-down on the sofa, so organise an event with friends that will force your eyes and mind to come away from the computer screen, so that you can actively relax.

Look after the pennies

When you start to make a profit, keep momentum up by minimising outgoings so that cash reserves develop. A thrifty attitude will pay dividends in the longer-term and make for a healthier approach to business.

Bristol-born Stephen Fear is judge at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards and founder of Fear Group. The serial entrepreneur was clear-sighted on the crucial need to use money wisely from day one.

“My overheads were very low. [The product] was cheap to produce so the profit was huge. I always tell people not to worry about where you’re working from, whether that’s from home or a cafe; it’s cheaper and it’s flexible. You’re better off spending your money on marketing or PR,” says Stephen, who was 19 when he sold his first business, Easy Clean, for £100,000.

Embrace the entrepreneurial mindset

Throwing off the employment shackles will give you freedom to harness the creative spirit that will engender the success of your new business. Now is the time to stop listening to other people’s views and have faith in your own vision, even if it may seem unconventional to others.

Align your new way of thinking to a strategic goal and a clear plan of how you’re going to get there. As a business owner, your ability to articulate your visions and values will mould the approaches of prospective employees, and your team’s success will depend on how in tune each individual is with the broader objective.

And finally…

In the short-term, the lows may outnumber the highs, but stay positive because you’re living your dream. Success is an attitude, not an end product; if you can stay focused and enjoy the challenges that each day throws up, you’ll give yourself a great chance of moving your business in the right direction.

About the author

Francesca James is co-founder of the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards. For more information visit

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