The 5 things I considered before quitting my career and starting a business

I get asked questions on twitter, and sometimes the character limit is just too tight for my proper answer! So today I decided to blog my answer to this one.

I used to be a primary teacher, and a secondary school librarian, and I took the leap to quit about 3 and a half years ago. It was obviously a tough decision; leaving a successful, stable and safe career in education without a clear path of where I was headed next. Here were some of the things I did before making the jump!

1. Created a concrete vision of where I wanted my life to be. Could staying still get me to where that was? I used a mixture of verbalising (saying things out loud to other people is so different to keeping it all in your head), free-writing (just writing, no stopping allowed, no conscious thinking needed) and devouring books about business and success. What would happiness and success look and feel like for me?

2. What was I willing to give up to get there? Would I be willing to get a lower-skilled part time job? Would I be willing to move out? Would I be willing to work 7 days? Are you willing to not go on holidays? To not go out as much? Only we know what we're willing to sacrifice and for how long. The price just may be too high for some.

3. What was the risk? Could I back out and go back to a career? What did I own that I could lose? If you own a house, the risk may feel larger than if you rent for example.

4. What sort of person was I? A doer? What did my past tell me about myself? Was I brave? Able to put myself out there? Learn new skills? What traits had given me success in other areas? How could they make me successful in the future?

5. What exactly was I unsatisfied with in my current life? Starting a business may not actually be the answer. If I don't enjoy working with the public, opening my own coffee shop may not be the answer. Answers to happiness may not lay in a new business, how about a career change? Spicing up your social life? Changing your fitness levels? Seeking a promotion, or even a demotion? Don't  swap one set of unhappiness for another!

If you're still thinking, "Yes, I want to open a business," my last piece of advice is to minimise your risk by providing something (product or service) that people actually want to pay money for. You may love making paper cranes, but all the passion in the world for those cranes may not pay your bills each month.

The final question you need to ask yourself is, "What am I really waiting for?"