The reality for most entrepreneurs is that they begin their business journey whilst employed full-time. This is according to Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited, who says that in South Africa, most aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to quit their job and focus solely on their business until sufficient groundwork has been covered and a steady inflow of capital has been secured.
He adds that a turbulent economic climate does not make it easy for aspiring entrepreneurs to take the leap into full time business ownership, which results in many entrepreneurs being ‘born’ while still on another employer’s payroll. “The starting phase of a business can be a tricky act to balance, but aspiring entrepreneurs should be disciplined enough to work on their own business after hours.
“Although receiving a steady employee salary while researching and preparing the ground work of another business is ideal, aspiring entrepreneurs should be careful not to abuse company time and resources.”
With a 2.2 point decline in business confidence in February – according to the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Confidence Index (BCI) which declined from 97.7 in January to 95.5 in February 2017 – Lang says that entrepreneurs must be confident in their business plan and concept prior to taking the leap into full time entrepreneurship.
“Starting a new business in difficult economic times requires even greater due diligence and research than usual, and when entering a tough, competitive environment, a business must have something different and special in order to have a fair chance at success.
“For those individuals who find themselves in the self-debating phase, of whether or not to take the leap into full-time entrepreneurship, it is important to consider all the necessary factors, and whether it is the right time.”
Lang points out some of the factors that entrepreneurs should consider when taking the leap from their full-time job to start a new business:
1) Focus on what is known: When considering a new business, entrepreneurs should focus on a market and industry they already know, as this experience and insight will assist in identifying business opportunities. With that said, there should also be a balance between passion and understanding of an industry.
2) Research is key: This is a fundamental step when starting a new business, especially when moving from part-time to full-time. It is essential to fully understand the risks and opportunities the business may face in future which could potentially impact revenue and the entrepreneur’s livelihood.
3) Consider market size: It is crucial to consider the size of market which the business will enter as this will ascertain how best to structure the business and the resources needed. For instance, would it be a full- or part-time business – if the latter, it may be worthwhile to remain employed part-time while growing the business.
4) Look for new opportunities: As the world constantly changes, new opportunities and new markets arise at the same pace. Changes in buying patterns, consumer preferences, new technology trends and developments all influence the apparition of new opportunities in the market, and entrepreneurs should constantly be on the lookout for how to adapt their businesses to meet new demands.
5) Take the leap: Ultimately, there will never be the perfect time to leap into full-time business ownership. During the final planning phase, when considering whether to take the leap, entrepreneurs should re-assess whether all their preparation steps have been adequately followed and whether they no longer feel the need for the salary safety-net.
“There is a fine line between starting too early, and starting too late. Too early can place unnecessary pressure on both the business and entrepreneur; but conversely, too late can lead to no decision at all with the business never taking off,” says Lang. “In the end, with the right amount of research, careful planning and execution, the entrepreneur has to trust their passion and follow their dreams.”