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What to Consider Before Quitting Your Day Job

How to Know When It's Time to Quit Your Day JobSick of working on your business when you're not at your 9 to 5? I bet you are. Though you would likely love to quit your day job to focus on your business fulltime, the question of 'when' is often puzzling to young entrepreneurs. After all, if you leave prematurely, you may run out of cash quicker than you might think. And let's not forget about that precious health insurance that you'd be giving up if you quit.

Still, your end goal won't always be elusive. Here are five considerations that will help you make the right decision at the right time:

Your responsibilities. Are you single with a simple, cheap lifestyle? If so, you're better equipped to take more chances and leave your full-time work earlier. And if push comes to shove, you might be able to move back in with Mom and Dad or sell your car if you have to.

By contrast, if you have a spouse and children, a mortgage or other hefty debts, you might think twice about putting in your notice. For those with major responsibilities, your options can be limited. In this case, plan on having at least six months of living costs saved so that your dreams don’t destroy theirs.

No matter what, the lower your debt the better positioned you are to handle downturns. With a car payment, a mortgage and credit-card or student-loan debt, you may be better off as a part-time entrepreneur until some of that debt -- if not all of it -- has been paid off.

Your job. Are you a waiter or cab driver, or a middle manager in a fast-changing industry? There’s always work for a waiter so you can move into and out of that job.

But that middle manager position is really an alternate career. Before you walk away, you should be certain that your business has enough traction to make losing that career opportunity worthwhile. You also may need to work as a waiter or a cab driver if you need extra money along the way. Either way, leave without regrets, even if your business doesn’t pan out the way you expect it to.

Your risk profile. If you leave your job, will you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat worrying about the future? If the business hits the rocks will you fight to save it or have something strong on the rocks instead? Are you willing to fail and start over again? Even the most ardent entrepreneurs have those moments of doubt. If starting your own business without the back-up of a salary means living in a constant state of extreme stress, think it through.

But if you’re one to ride rollercoasters in the first car with your hands up in the air, then jump in. Most entrepreneurs love the thrill of the unknown and enjoy pitting their capabilities against the market. If you fit this profile, you’ll feel more alive than ever once you’re working full time on your own terms.

Your support system. Working for yourself can be lonely and challenging. Make sure you have friends and mentors to draw on for support and advice. If you’re used to having people at work to chat with when you need a break, find some people you can call for a short chat when you need a break with your own business. You may also want to share office space with another entrepreneur or two, to save money, share resources and bounce ideas around with.

Your business. Is the business already generating revenue? Will working on it fulltime increase revenues beyond what it’s generating now? Could you live on the business income for a while -- possibly supplemented by savings? Do you need to invest more money in the business or just more time? If you expect your revenues to rise once you put in more time -- and you have enough to sustain yourself and your dependents without the income from a job -- go for it.

What else should you consider before quitting your day job? Leave a comment and let us know.

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Phoenix, Ariz.
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