They say that if you’re waiting for the perfect time, you’ll be waiting forever, and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to waiting for the perfect time to start your own business.
Leaving the comfort of a stable paycheck is always a nerve-wracking decision: leaping into the world of self-employment, where the success of your new small business lies entirely in your hands and nothing is guaranteed, is an enormous culture shift, after all.
The problem with waiting for the “perfect time” to start, however, is that it doesn’t exist. Even today, in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunity to go self-employed is right there waiting for you, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Still not convinced? Well, let’s run down some of the reasons why the “perfect time” doesn’t exist, and why waiting could actually be doing you more harm than good.
You don’t know what tomorrow will bring
This is a lesson COVID-19 has taken great pleasure in teaching us all in 2020 – the simple fact of life is that you never know what to expect, and the things you think you can count on today might not be there tomorrow.
Now, this isn’t to say that some unspeakable tragedy is just around the corner or anything like that, but who expected the coronavirus to have such a dramatic effect on our lives when the first case was reported in the UK back in January?
If you’re thinking of going self-employed, you might think “it can wait until tomorrow, it can wait until next week, it can wait until the pandemic is over”, but if you take that approach, there will always be something else that setting up your business can wait for. Before you know it, a year has passed and you’ve missed 12 months of opportunities.
Staying in a job you hate is bad for your health
There are dozens of reasons to go self-employed, but one of the most common motivators is dissatisfaction at work. If you’re stuck in a dead-end nine-to-five, dreaming of running your own business and being your own boss, you’re actually doing yourself more harm than good by standing still.
It’s estimated that we spend 10 years of our lives working, and 10 years is an awfully long time to be unhappy. We all know how easy it is for a bad day at work to bleed into our downtime, too, and if you’re going to bed each day dreading the call of your alarm clock, you need to break out of the destructive routine.
Fatigue, stress, and depression are nothing to mess around with or take lightly. If you’re already in that position, you need to put your health first and make a change. Even if you’re not, it’s not worth waiting until you’ve reached breaking point before you make a change – your health and wellbeing is too important! Our article on how to quit your job has some helpful tips on how to make sure you go about things in the right way, however tempting it may be to go out with a bang!
Someone might get there before you
Let’s say you’ve spotted the gap in the market – you know what people need, you know how to give them what they need, and you’re passionate about the work. That’s great news, but the odds that you’re the only one to identify that gap are pretty small. Right now, there’s someone in the other end of the country eyeing the same spot you are. How are you going to feel if they get there first?
The only thing worse than a missed opportunity is watching someone else make the most of the chance you didn’t take. If you’ve got an idea, don’t sit on it – your rival could be setting up their company even as we speak. Why not start knocking together a business plan to ensure your idea’s a strong one?
“It might have been”
It was once said that “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might’ve been.” And that’s the issue with waiting for the “perfect time” – aside from the fact there is no such thing, what if it never arrives? What if there’s never that moment where all the stars feel as though they’ve aligned for you, never that moment where you know that today is the day?
You could spend your life wondering how different things may have been if you’d taken the plunge, or you could roll the dice, bet on yourself, take your career by the horns and become your own boss.
What to do when you’re ready to start
Of course, while it’s important not to rest on your laurels, there are a few things you need to put in place before you take the plunge. So, if you’re ready to make your self-employed dreams come true, head over to our “13 things you need to consider before you go self-employed” article for everything you need to put in place before you form your business.
If you’re already at that point, congratulations! You’re at the most exciting stage – forming your company! Crunch can help you through the entire formation process if you’d like a little guidance – check out our Crunch Formations page for more information.
Need a little inspiration?
Brain Casel, a web designer in Connecticut, USA:
“I left my job at a web agency in 2008 to go freelance. It was a conscious decision. I was excited by the prospect of working on my own and pursuing a variety of new and different opportunities.
“For the first few years, that meant taking on my own clients. But I later decided to transition once again and build a more scalable, products-based business. My favourite aspect has been the never-ending learning experience, and that’s why I’ve begun to focus more on writing and teaching lately.”
Ahmed Taouti, a graphic designer working in Paris:
“I had experienced all sorts of professional environments; big agencies, small agencies, 2 / 3 month projects, 2 days projects, yet I never felt at ease. Each time I managed to to change the role to my liking, for example by reducing meeting hours.
“I moved to Paris and quickly found a job, but the commuting was killing me, the atrophied projects too. I was never challenged by any project, so I gave it all up with no preparation, borrowed money and settled as a sole trader.”
Some people do it to get away from a negative situation
David Nikel, a communications consultant in Trondheim, Norway:
“After 10 years as an IT consultant I knew it was time to quit when my previous job began to affect my health. I had so many doubts about branching out alone (especially in a new industry and a foreign country) but what I didn’t doubt was this – I couldn’t stay in a job that was doing me damage.
“So even though the business plan was a long way from perfect, I struck out alone, and I haven’t looked back.”
…and some people just want freedom
Vicki Hughes, a PR consultant in Brighton:
“I remember toying with the idea to set up alone for a long time, but it took a while for me to build the confidence to just go for it. There was a crucial six months, involving many conversations with people that had ‘done it’, gaining inspiration and getting tips on making it work from them and, most importantly, discussing it with my partner (without whom I would not have had the confidence and practical home and work support to get it going).
“The need to gain authority in making decisions and advancing the business was a major driver, but the final push was probably the need to take control of my life and destiny. I had reached a stage of life where I wanted overall autonomy in managing my working life, fitting it in with family responsibilities and making the business decisions that felt 100% right in my mind.”
Ben Matthews, a freelance digital consultant in London:
“For me, going freelance was a conscious choice. I’d been working in the busy world of agency land at various companies, but felt that I’d settled into a routine and wasn’t pushing myself to learn or develop.
“Going freelance soon put an end to that, as I was constantly learning from day one – everything from sales and new business, through to client relations and freelance finances. Going it alone felt like a real challenge, but I feel like I’ve gone from strength to strength as a freelancer and wouldn’t look back.”