There's a repeated myth in the world of entrepreneurs: they quit their job and then run off, tackle all these challenges, and become mighty successful. The myth part is the first part, quitting one's job. See, most entrepreneurs who are successful used their previous job to fund their jumping off point, and had a plan that included paying their bills on the way to success. Let's talk about that.
My Own Story
In 2006, I was working for a wireless telecom company. It was a great place, but it was starting to live off its fumes, so I decided I wanted out. I'd been getting more and more notice for my work on my blog and for my ideas in new media. So, I started a conference with Christopher S. Penn called PodCamp. That became the starting point of my launch into my own business, but I'll explain the steps.
An entrepreneur named Jeff Pulver hired me to run his Video on the Net conference, plus also to run community development for his Internet video startup. I quit my wireless job, and started a new job with Jeff. Note: I still had a salary, health benefits and the like.
From there, I started planning how I'd run my own business. But it wasn't immediate and forthcoming. I left my role with Jeff and started working with Stephen and Nick Saber at another company. I had a salary and benefits there, too. See how my family and my bank account are still safe? But in both moves, I gained a little bit more traction in my ideas on running my own company.
Where I ended up was where I am now: I run one company with the Sabers, and I have another new company, Human Business Works, starting up right now. It's in this move that the lessons start coming.
The way to keep your family and bank account somewhat safe in all these moves comes from building more than one stream of revenue. I started with building up a small side business as a professional speaker. I then added affiliate marketing (marketing and selling products that I felt applied to my target audience on my website). As those two streams grew, I had the escape velocity built up to decide I could do what I wanted with my business interests.
That's the goal. Think of your previous job as "gravity," as a planet you're no longer interested in hanging out on, and then think of what it'll take to get to your own goals as "escape velocity." From there, you can start plotting the course. It might be money. It might be a platform from where you can share your new ideas. Whatever it takes, that's what you need.
Keep Your Family Secure
One of the biggest repeat strains I hear about from people looking to do their own thing is that bit about protecting their family. You don't have to put your family at risk to grow your own business (though it sometimes happens due to planning and unforeseen risks). The more you can keep your family's comfort out of the picture, the better your chances are of having strong support at home, and that makes for great rocket fuel to get you to the next level in your own development.
Don't just quit and go it alone. Plan. Think. Acquire fuel for escape velocity. And make smart moves along the way. It'll be so much more fun when you hit your new destination.
Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of Social Media 101, and president of New Marketing Labs. He blogs at chrisbrogan.com.