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Ready to Make the Leap?

How to know if the time is right to start a business

Q: When is it the right time to leave a full-time job and concentrate on your own business? I want to focus on building my business, but I'm afraid it won't provide enough income to support my lifestyle.

Name withheld

A: First, you must ask yourself three questions:

  • Has there been a steadily growing flow of new customers?
  • Has your business, though part time, been producing a steady flow of income through seasonal or other cycles typical of the business?
  • Are you turning away business because of limits on your time? If not, would the customers be there if you had the time to market or take on more customers?

If you can answer at least two of these questions in the affirmative, that's a good sign it's safe to leave your job. Of course, you should also be aware of any developments that could worsen the growth outlook for your business-such as pending legislation, new technology, the movement of the kind of work you do out of the United States, or the decline of an industry your business depends on. Also, if your job has been providing the contacts you've used to build your part-time business, you'll need to find ways to replace these.

Cutting the umbilical cord of a paycheck is an uncomfortable step for most people. So the closer the income from your business is to producing the money you'll need to pay basic business and living expenses, the more confident you'll be.


Authors and career coaches Paul and Sarah Edwards have written 15 books, including Working From Home. Send your questions to www.workingfromhome.comor in care of Entrepreneur.

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This article was originally published in the March 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ready to Make the Leap?.

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