Raised at the knee of an entrepreneurial mother, I learned a lot about being one because my parents were inclusive, and openly shared the difficulties of owning their own business. Quietly I watched my mother launch six businesses and although the first five failed, the last one was a huge success.  On opening night, I proudly stood beside her and toasted to her success which came only three short weeks after she had a radical mastectomy of her right breast. There was no stopping her!

I truly believe I was born to be an entrepreneur but like many before me, I landed a ‘normal’ job and tried to fit in.  My first big break was in retail but I was fired from my job after 18 months because the manager did not like the ideas I kept coming up with to improve sales and make more money. I later found out he was afraid they were going to fire him and give me his job!

Next stop was the financial services industry where even with the ebb and flow of a salesperson’s income I was having a great time.  The entrepreneur in me was back! Over the years, I worked my way up to an executive role and although I was happy for a while, something always seemed to be missing. The highway of life had a detour planned for me and before I knew it, I became a widow with a twelve-year-old daughter so the entrepreneur in me had to stay silent because a steady paycheque was an absolute necessity.

I knew in my heart that one day I wanted to be an entrepreneur again but I also knew I needed a plan and so do you if you want to be able to make decisions about your future on your own terms. Here are seven tips to help you to set yourself up for success before you decide to leave a steady paying job.

  1. Think about why you want to become a business owner – do you have an idea or a passion that you absolutely need to follow and see where it goes? Or, do you simply hate your job and need a change? If you even remotely thought of answering yes to the second question, starting a business might not be a solution, especially if high stress, hard work and low pay are the reasons you do not like your job.
  2. Pay yourself first – make sure you are putting away a minimum of ten percent of your income so you will have cash flow to help you when you get started. I personally recommend putting twenty percent away.
  3. Keep your debt ratio in line – do not end up in a position where you owe so much money that you cannot leave your job. Your credit history will be important if you are looking to raise capital down the road.
  4. Own personal insurance – I liken group benefits to a type of job bonus. You do not own them so you should have your own personal life insurance, disability insurance and critical illness plans in place. Good health buys these products, not money and as an entrepreneur they will become a financial lifeline if anything happens to you. These products put money into your hands ‘when’ it is needed not ‘if’ it is needed.
  5. Get a good business coach – if you are thinking of transitioning to an entrepreneur role start working with a coach to get a plan and strategy in place well be before you are looking to exit your role.
  6. Build your network before you make the transition – your connections can help you with business in all kinds of ways. There are never too many people in an entrepreneur’s network, especially for a new business owner. Always keep your eyes open for new networking opportunities and be sure to do some face-to-face networking at industry and community events.
  7. Get yourself a financial advisor – no matter what your level of investment experience or sophistication is, you can benefit from professional guidance when it comes to managing your finances. A second set of eyes looking out for you and your finances makes a huge difference! This person will become part of your ‘wealth team’ along with a good lawyer and bookkeeper/accountant as a new business owner.

It was ten years ago this month that I finally could not take it anymore, gave my resignation and left the corporate world behind on Halloween. I had lost my raison d’être, my passion was gone and I felt like a square peg trying to jam myself into a round hole and frankly my sides hurt.  Today, I am the best-selling author of the book WITH THE [STROKE] OF A PEN: Claim Your Life (3rd Edition), an international speaker and a business coach. I use my extensive financial knowledge and personal life experiences to help entrepreneurs to build their businesses so they can create wealth but more importantly preserve it so they are in control of their life and not the other way around.

To your success!