You hate your job! We've all been there. You spend half your day dreaming about starting your own business, but, let's face it, that's a big leap, especially if you have a spouse or kids to worry about. The good news is that it can be done.
BusinessNewsDaily asked five people who've dumped jobs they hated to start their own businesses exactly how they did it and what advice they have for you.
Make a plan
Sarah Shaffer Kelly was a business systems consultant with Wells Fargo Bank when she decided that the incessant buzz of her BlackBerry was more than she could take. After 14 years at the company, she was exhausted and anxious all the time, she said.
So, last year, she quit her job and invested $30,000 to open her own hair salon, called P3 Hair Design.
It wasn't an easy decision to make.
"Sometimes the hell you know is better than the hell you don't know," she said. "I wasn't sure which one this change might be."
Once she decided to do it, though, she planned her course of action carefully.
She gave extra long notice to her employer and then saved her paychecks to pay to go back to school for training in running a salon. She also used that time to create a solid business plan, albeit an informal one.
"Do your homework," Kelly advised. "Everything I read on how to start a business started with writing a business plan. I never did. Business plans are for banks and investors and not really for a sole proprietorship. That doesn't mean I don't have a plan. I have profit and loss statements and a break-even spreadsheet. I also carefully calculated my pricing structure to find the sweet spot for my target client — that's another thing, it's so important to know who your customer is and where to find them."
Only a year later, her gamble has paid off. The salon is starting to make a profit, and Kelly loves what she does.
"My worst day at the shop is still so much better than my best day at the bank," she said.
Jason Feinberg was a teacher before he decided he wanted to try something different. So, he quit his job and started Jailbreak Toys, a company that makes "product art." By "art," Feinberg means clever toys that combine pop culture with fun. The company's Gummy Bear-inspired nightlight is an example.
Deciding to make the move to owning a business was a challenge.
"Changing careers was both a financial and emotional decision," he said. "The hardest part of making my career change was the uncertainty. When you start a venture, no matter how much you’ve thought it out and how confident you are, there’s the risk of complete failure."
It took Feinberg's company longer than he anticipated (three years) before it made a profit. Luckily, Feinberg started the business while he was still working.
"I founded the company in 2005 and kept it afloat by teaching until we hit on our real breakout product," Feinberg said.
Feinberg's business was such a success, he decided to create a way for other artists to do the same.
He grew Jailbreak Toys into Jailbreak Collective, which he describes as a record label for artists.
"After identifying artists we feel have a product that will resonate with consumers, we set up the manufacturing, distribution and all the other facets that go into a product launch. The artists are being provided with the infrastructure necessary to bring their work to consumers and it allows us to expand our reach," he said.
Ironically, Feinberg's advice to other budding entrepreneurs looking to leave the 9 to 5 world behind is to be careful from whom you take advice.
"Be very selective [from whom] you take advice from because, when it comes to business, everyone's got some to give. Make sure to look at the people who are telling you what to do with your business and your money and ask yourself, 'Does this person have the kind of success/business/lifestyle I want for myself?' If they don't seem like the right role model for you, you probably don't want to follow their way of doing things."
Choose your business carefully
Richard E. Ueberfluss was a licensed physical therapist who had been working as a hospital executive when he decided he'd had enough. Now the owner of Assisting Hands Home Care, which offers in-home care for home-bound patients who need help maintaining a safe environment, Ueberfluss found his corporate career unrewarding.
"I was looking for new career challenges and found I was not advancing in the corporate world as I expected. I had devoted many years to the health care and medical field, building million-dollar businesses for others," he said.
He decided to put that talent to work for himself by opening an Assisting Hands franchise.
Ueberfluss suggests choosing your new business venture carefully, since you'll be taking a big risk and you'll want to improve your chances of success.
"Pick a growing industry and do not be afraid of competition," he said. "Have faith in your ability to succeed and understand that success doesn't happen overnight, but if you stick with it, you will achieve your goals."
Ueberfluss recently purchased a second franchise and has sold franchises to two other franchisees in his area.
Amy and David Rzepka, owners of Beecology Natural Skincare and Hair Products, worked in real estate management and retail, respectively, before they decided to start their own natural beauty products business.
"About eight years ago we agreed to let a co-worker put a beehive on our family farm," Amy Rzepka said. We didn't plan to be responsible for it, but when life events kept him from tending to it, we became beekeepers."
The couple became fascinated by bee science and culture.
"That's when the idea hit us; we wanted to make natural skin care and hair products using honey, beeswax and other ingredients that are good for our world and us," they said.
Though the four-person company now operates from a warehouse, they originally started the business from home, allowing them to test the waters of entrepreneurship by starting small.
"We saved at least $20,000 a year," they said. "In the beginning working from home was easy, we were making very small batches of our products, but as we grew, we needed more space and larger equipment. It was a great way to put the 'rent' money back into our products. It also gave me the opportunity to work two jobs at once, one during the day and one at night and on the weekends," David Rzepka said.
Their advice to anyone starting their own business is to be patient. "Don’t expect miracles overnight," they said. "It takes a lot of hard work and time. It's one customer at a time."
Enjoy the ride
David Greenberg was a corporate lawyer when he recognized a business opportunity.
"About two years ago, I was moving and I needed to change my address. I started making a list of all the places that I needed to update and realized it could take several hours to contact all these places. I searched online for a service that would help me through the process. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a trustworthy site to help me change my address efficiently and safely," Greenberg said. "Considering about 45 million Americans move each year, I realized there might be a great business solving this pain point."
In response, Greenberg started Updater.com, a service that allows users to change their address with the postal service, and control who can access and use their postal address, allowing them to stop unwanted mail and reduce the chance of identity theft.
With no background in technology, Greenberg had to do a lot of research before he started.
"I had to start from scratch. I knew there was a good business opportunity but I didn’t have expertise in Internet technology or the postal system, which I knew was critical. So, I spent many months researching the industry and perfecting my strategy. I read everything available on the offline consumer data market, the postal system, web technologies, entrepreneurship, etc. I basically put myself through startup boot camp," he said.
He advises others to be sure to enjoy the learning process along the way.
"Starting a business is very fun and rewarding but it is also very stressful," he said. "I find it helpful to keep reminding myself how much I am learning and what a great experience the process is. Focusing on how much I am learning makes me enjoy what I am doing that much more."
Reporting by Cynthia Bunting, BusinessNewsDaily contributor.