Thinking about quitting your IT job and going into business on your own? Before you type up your resignation letter, follow these five steps that can help prepare you for life as an entrepreneur.
1. Get Involved with the Sales Team
“The hardest part of starting out on your own is getting clients and doing sales consistently,” business consultant
Evan Horowitz Advising (@ehadvising)
You may be very skilled in your IT work, but sales is a completely different skillset, he says – and often emotionally challenging.
Horowitz recommends that individuals looking to start their own IT business get involved with the sales process at their current company. Accompany the project leader to a client meeting if you can. Pay attention to…
- How the sales team closes a deal.
- What strategies they use to sell clients on services.
- How they generate leads.
If nothing else, treat a few sales people to lunch and get them to talk shop.
Even if you have a few clients already lined up when you start your business, you’ll have to expand your clientele eventually. Get an idea of what that takes now, while it’s free.
2. Learn How to Price and Make Proposals
You know you can do the work, but do you know how much to charge for it? Horowitz suggests getting familiar with the proposal and pricing process while you can. Get a feel for the money side of things.
What you charge for your services ties into your sales strategy, but it also plays a huge part in determining how feasible your business idea is in the first place. Ask yourself:
- Will your work be able to translate into enough revenue to keep you afloat?
- Can you modify your pricing around different services to maximize your revenue?
Though your present company might be doing things on a larger scale, you can learn the fundamentals. For more advice, check out “How to Set (and Negotiate) Prices as an IT Consultant.”
3. Start Freelancing on the Side
Real-world experience is the best teacher. Consider freelancing nights or weekends on smaller jobs while remaining employed full time. Not only will you get a chance to practice the sales and pricing lessons you’ve learned, but you’ll start to build client relationships.
Most importantly, freelancing can help you feel more confident when you decide to make that leap of faith. Horowitz says that for those transitioning from employee to business owner, one of the key hurdles to overcome is “proving to yourself that you can get clients and finish a project on your own.”
4. Build Relationships with Current Clients
This tip comes with a very important caveat: you absolutely don’t want to poach clients from your current employer once you go solo. That’s one easy way to burn a bridge. Instead, focus on building as many potential bridges as you can.
If you work with clients currently, build a strong relationship with them and figure out how to maintain that relationship. They may be able to offer new opportunities for your business in the future and connect you with a larger network. Business landscapes change and people move among positions and companies, so even if you don’t get any work from them right away, your relationship with them can prove invaluable in the long term.
5. Save Money
Seriously, save as much as you can. It may take a while before you start bringing in serious cash. The more you have at the start, the more time you have to perfect your marketing and sales techniques and get the revenue streams flowing. Try these money saving methods:
- Implement automatic saving from every paycheck.
- Pack your lunches.
- Buy store-brand supplies.
Do whatever it takes to have a financial cushion for the lean times when your clients run out of work and you’re between projects.
Remember, at some point you’ll have to make a leap of faith. No matter how much money you have saved up, you’re going to have to make the decision to start your own IT business and that decision comes with risk. To help mitigate that risk – so you can focus on the fulfillment and accomplishment of running your own business – consider protecting yourself with technology business insurance.