What’s the most dangerous advice to receive when you’re ready to take the leap and start your own business?
It’s the advice given in reality-TV shows and heroic entrepreneur fiction: “Quit your job, put your life savings on the line and risk it all!”
That sort of advice is fine if you’re a student with few outgoing expenses and OK about sleeping on a friend’s sofa while the business is in startup mode. But if you have a house, a family and other commitments, it's the very worst advice to take.
Sure, the current job may not pay well. You may not enjoy it and it may feel exciting to jump into the unknown. But the moment you quit your job without any cash flow to replace your salary, you risk entering into negative cash flow territory and the clock is ticking.
Too many people jump into their own business wanting to be Superman and give up their Clark Kent job, as if the situation required the wannabe entrepreneur be all one or all the other.
The most successful wealth creators in the world understood that even Superman needs to be Clark Kent some of the time. Before starting Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg began by being paid to write code for others. Warren Buffett began his investment career working for Benjamin Graham.
Oprah Winfrey began as a radio host before starting her own show. In each case, they bought their time first. Remember, Superman doesn’t get paid to save the world. He needs that Clark Kent newspaper reporter’s job some of the time to pay for his stretchy suit and cape.
Where’s your telephone booth? How do you make the transition from being a full-time Clark Kent with zero hours as Superman (or Wonder Woman) to being a mix of the two? There are three questions to ask:
1. What is your minimum Clark Kent time?
Work out what will give you the maximum return on time to cover your commitments and keep you cash flow positive. What is the minimum number of hours of work that you need to work at your current rate to cover that? It may be four days a week instead of the five days you’re working. It may be switching to a higher-paid opportunity in the short term to bring the hours down further. This is a temporary phase as you move from where you are to where you're going.
2. What is your maximum Superman time right now?
Even if you devote only one hour a day or one day a week to your entrepreneurial project, when you define a profitable Superman project and allocate time for it, you immediately feel inspired to spring into action.
Change your getup or bring about a total change of environment to spur you forward. As you secure income through your Superman role, you can further cut down your Clark Kent tasks.
3. Where’s your telephone booth?
Clark Kent doesn’t jump into his cape in the office cubicle. He finds a telephone booth. What’s the best location or situation for you to make a transition? It could be a mentoring group. Or you might become involved with a crowdfunding site, a freelance role or an Amazon store until the money for your business starts flowing.
The risk-it-all mentality is far and away the exception in the success stories I've witnesses but all too common for the failures. The failures involve not only those who jump and crash but in those who remain stuck in the wrong job or business.
As long as you believe that making a transition should be an all-or-nothing leap, you will jump at a high-risk opportunity or delay jumping at all times. Once you envision the entrepreneurial process as something that can begins today, all the reasons for not starting immediately fade away .
So what are you waiting for, Superman?