One of the most common dilemmas of first-time entrepreneurs is when should they make the critical move and start their new ventures.
When is the right time to take the plunge? When is it time to turn what has up till now been a side project into your main focus in life?
I’ve recently been through this myself and with several other aspiring entrepreneurs. It applies to young people as well as those who are in their mid-career stage. To single people as well as those married with kids.
Even if you are one of the fortunate few that can quit your day job at will, with no financial concerns. You might still want to be sure it’s the right time to make your move in order to avoid the adverse consequences of a false start.
Make no mistake, this is a real dilemma. Do I quit my job so I can dedicate more time and energy to developing and validating my idea? Can I take this considerable financial, personal, and professional risk? Or do I play it safe, continue to work on it in my spare time and weekends and risk not being first to market with my innovation?
The first important decision you need to make is whether or not you should become an entrepreneur. Having a great idea is not in itself a good enough reason to start your own company. Even if you believe it can be bigger than Facebook and greater than sliced bread.
I think it’s a very personal decision. It requires that you be truly honest with yourself. Furthermore, you need to be clear about your goals and ambitions in life. No one can decide this for you. Ultimately, you, and your significant other, need to decide what’s right for you.
The next decision criteria are at the core of your business plan.
IMHO, there are three “strategic” imperatives for any start-up before it’s ready to be launched, i.e. become a viable venture.
Identifying a real need or problem to be solved. And having the right solution (product idea). These are the two critical hypotheses that you should validate before going any further. I subscribe to Steve Blank’s Customer Development approach in addressing this critical requirement.
A strong value proposition. Unless you have a convincing one you will not be able to raise money or win your target customers.
A compelling business model. You and your investors need to feel good about the potential of your idea to become a profitable, scalable business within a reasonable period of time.
Once you’ve successfully addressed and completed the above “must-dos”, you’re ready to take the plunge and start your new company.
However, whatever you do, don’t even start unless you’re 110% sure that this is what you want. You’ll need every ounce of passion, commitment and drive to make your idea a reality. Anything short of that will simply not be enough to persevere and endure the adversities and challenges of the start-up life-cycle.
And one final remark, this is not a 100m dash. It’s a long and grueling marathon on a rough and bumpy road. And yet, much like a marathon, no matter how and where it ends, it will be a life-changing experience for you.