Leaving your full time role to start your own business

Turning your business ownership dream into a reality is a huge step if you are accustomed to the security and stability of a nine to five-day job. With less pay and more hours involved, the stakes are higher.

Every year however hundreds of new businesses get up and running in Australia. More than 66,700 were launched in 2016/ 17, and many of those have been in the making for months, if not years.

Hear how three side-hustlers became full-fledged small business owners in 2018.

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Prepare financially

Tim Kallady was a civil engineer before he launched his own artificial intelligence business, Piccard, in July, 2018. He had been preparing for seven months before he left his nine to five role.

“I made the resolution I would somehow get to a point where I could go off on my own,” he explains. “So it was a buildup and a few different things sort of fell into place, which made it easier.”

Financially, he began to focus on building savings he could lean on during the early days of the business. To do this, he secured work as a contractor and worked out of business hours.

“Freelancing in order to help with the transition mitigated a lot of the financial risk,” he says.

“It meant that I earned a lot more for the same work I was already doing, which freed up a lot of time. I was able to maintain the same income by only doing one or two days of work, and that was an ideal situation.”

Kallady also wrote a business plan, which became his roadmap to starting his business in six months. He says writing the plan was difficult because certain elements of his business couldn’t be accurately predicted, so his plan had to be flexible enough to make continual adjustments.

“As a small business you need to have a plan, but it's not until you actually make that leap and give it a go that you realise what parts of your plan are going to work,” he says.

While Kallady didn’t engage someone to help with his business plan, he did recruit the help of a mentor.

“I've got a guy who's been a good mentor, an ex-colleague who’s retired and has been a real wealth of knowledge and insight,” he explains.

“I think the most valuable thing for me was being surrounded by people who challenged my way of thinking. I think that the business is a lot better for it.”

Master time management

Preparation was key for James Muir, who left his job as a manager at national training organisation, to start the soccer training platform, Treiner. It took 12 months of preparation, and he prepared an initial business plan that was to become the basis for a number of applications he made to start-up accelerators.

His business is now part of two accelerators, which Muir recommends for other founders looking for support.

“The accelerator programs have been really great in that they allow access, provide or match you with mentors in a specific area of focus that you need help with,” he says.

Becoming a small business founder was a whole new world and Muir quickly found himself sacrificing time with his young family.

“I found I was always working, so trying to find time for work-life balance was difficult,” he explains.

“But that is no different than in some roles as an employee. You adjust and become better at managing your time and set up rules and plan holidays to prevent burnout.”

Muir introduced new systems within the business to streamline operations, free up time and ultimately, optimise the service.

“We have written a process document for each task, so new employees or interns can follow the documents to speed up their learning process,” he says.

“We also try to automate and integrate as many processes and software as possible.”

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Use your network

Before Katie Clift left her job in a public relations agency to work to set up her own public relations consultancy, she began reaching out to people who had set up their own businesses so she had a clear vision of what to expect. It took her three months to of preparation until she took the leap to go out on her own.

“I searched for small business communities online and there are I also started to use LinkedIn a lot more, to build professional relationships and to find mentors that could assist me with starting a small business,” she says.

“I turned to friends, family and mentors online, as well as online business communities like Flying Solo. It gave me a lot of faith and made me feel reinforced when I read the stories other people had been through because it can be hard in small business.

“One day everything’s fabulous and the next there’s struggles and challenges.”

Clift prioritised her networking and so that when she launched her business, she was able to leverage her contacts to build up a healthy stable of clients.

“I would say that building genuine relationships over your career is one of the most valuable investments you can make,” she says.

“My network of contacts, colleagues and mentors led organically to job opportunities when I first started my business. One entrepreneur I had interviewed for years when working in broadcast radio reached out to collaborate on a PR campaign for her company, for example.

“Building relationships has led to many partnerships and new clients organically. I always ensure it is a personal focus of mine to create new relationships, and continue fostering older relationships.

Starting a business is an exciting and daunting time that brings plenty of unique challenges. But with enough preparation and support, those who dream big can achieve big.