Leap Of Faith

When it comes to starting your own business (or dreaming about it), the biggest plus — and con — is the ability being an entrepreneur affords for making money…how you want, when you want and with whom you want. Well, it’s not that easy to start your own thing. But if the spark (and talent) is there, read on.
Text by Dena Roché | June 2, 2018 | Lifestyle

Who among us has not sat at a desk after another non-productive meeting, a clash with the boss or a 12-hour day and fantasized about handing in a resignation letter and starting up your own thing? Maybe you already have an idea in place or are working your business on the side while the dream of being your own boss is burning especially bright, but fear is holding you back. It’s the question every entrepreneur has faced: When do you take the leap of faith?
“It’s always a leap of faith because you never know,” says Jackie Sousa, Regional Director for The Small Business Development Center of FIU. “But a leap of faith is easier the more you know the industry. If you don’t have any experience in it, I’d advise against it, then it’s a leap of insanity.”
For every entrepreneur, it starts with an idea. “You work in an industry and you see inefficiency or a value-add and that’s when you get an idea,” says Kubs Lalchandani, of Lalchandani Simon Law, which focuses on helping entrepreneurs. Or maybe you’re like Entrepreneur Jason Beukema, Founder of Group Cruise who had a personal coach who told him to find what he loves and figure out how to get paid for it.
However inspiration starts, once the seed is planted, a true entrepreneurial personality can’t let it go. But an idea isn’t enough. You have to make sure your idea is something that resonates with the marketplace. “Test, test, test your ideas,” says Serial Tech Entrepreneur Colin Campbell, current CEO of .Club Domains. “Share your idea with friends and other entrepreneurs,” he says. “They aren’t going to steal it. It’s not the idea that makes money, it’s the execution.”
If you don’t have experience in the industry of your dreams, Sousa says it’s imperative that you work in it before you leap to make sure reality matches your imagination. Troy Hazard, Founder of 11 different businesses, echoes her advice. “Just because you like eating pizza doesn’t mean you’re going to like working until midnight cleaning pizza trays,” he says.
After determining that your idea is sound and you love the work, it’s smart to start saving for the leap. “Everything tends to take longer than you expect, so assume you’ll need a longer runway,” says Jeff Sass, Founder of “Save as much as you can while you still have a day job.”
Another important thing an aspiring entrepreneur often overlooks is involving his family. Going solo is a big move that affects everyone. “Is your family all in? If they aren’t, then it probably isn’t the right move to make,” cautions Hazard.
Launching a business requires sacrifice in the beginning, which means the kids might not get the latest iPhone and the family vacation abroad might have to be scaled back. Is everyone willing to make cuts for potential future gains? Once you’ve done your due diligence, the only thing left to do is jump. “Everything is a learning experience,” says Beukema. “Bad experience is how you learn. You have to fail forward.”
While there are always unexpected stumbling blocks along the way, involving some professional help to start can mitigate avoidable disasters. “The first thing is to get set up with an entity,” advises Lalchandani. “The company might get sued, but you won’t lose your assets.” Many sole properties don’t think about having an LLC or a corporation, but the legal and tax benefits are worth weighing the option of which structure is right.
So…what’s in a name? If you’re a business, the answer is plenty. Therefore you want to protect it. “Your name is everywhere,” says Lalchandani. “If you don’t own your name, it’s a big problem.” To prevent issues, trademarking is important. And if you’re a tech company, you’ll likely want to investigate provisional patents as well. Once your framework is in place, Campbell says you need 4 things: people, funding, great stories and systems. “If you can get those things in alignment, your odds of succeeding are much higher,” he says.
Many people who dream of leaving the rat race often never think beyond being a sole proprietor, but if your idea is successful you will need help…and as they say, good help is hard to find. No one said this was going to be easy, folks.
While many entrepreneurs boot strap their venture through savings and even taking on credit card debt, some ideas require so much initial capital that investment dollars are needed. “I recommend finding a seasoned investor who understands their space. Don’t try to sell a tech concept to an oil man or and oil concept to a geek. Aligning with the right investor early who has a rolodex and can pitch the idea to other investors on subsequent rounds can prove to be useful,” says Campbell. Use the initial investors funding to prove the concept and subsequent rounds to scale. That being said, be careful not to give up control.”
To take that professional leap of faith, it takes lots of ground work and planning. Don’t just act on a fantasy during a bad day at work. Once you’ve done the hard work, it’s time to find confidence in yourself and simply jump.