Entrepreneurship · Small business

When should you quit your full time job and start building your business?

Rodrigo Barahona CEO @pbcleanings, Entrepreneur, Hustler, Simple, Thoughtful, Energetic.

June 14th, 2017

So, I have a full time job and a business on the side. With that being said. I feel my business is starting to require me to dedicate it more time. Yet, the business is not enough to cost my own living expenses.

When should I take that leap of faith? How do I know? My gut says I should.

The minute you have the realization that you hate your job and don't want it anymore. None of us should do jobs we don't like. Society has brainwashed most people into thinking that they should/have to work for some large corporation, climb the ladder, get higher and higher pay until they end up among the cool kids at the cool kid table... i.e. the C-suite.

My two cents, as a guy who has started up several companies and had success at it is that you jump ship RIGHT NOW.

Ideally, you have some savings in the bank for all your bills (1, 3, 6 months. If you are an excellent saver, a year's worth of $).

What you do when you jump ship is you start swimming immediately.

This means making sales calls. Don't have a product/service lined up right away? Your technique is not perfected? It doesn't matter. You must BEGIN.

This is the sticking point for so many people and the #1 reason why most people remain worker bees their whole lives.

The unlucky ones sit in their cubes and think to themselves/say out loud: "When I have the right amount of money, then I'll start my business." "When my kids are out of the house, then I'll start." "When I have enough time I'll start. Right now, there's too much going on."

The problem with we adults is that we think every thing that comes out of our mouths is true. We all like to think that we are right 100% of the time.

Ever ask someone what kind of driver they are? Ever notice how the individual you ask is always a good driver and everyone else is a drunk NASCAR driver hell bent on running over old ladies?

It's the same concept. Many people believe that the there is some "right" moment, some magic moment in which "everything comes together" and is perfect.

They are right and wrong to think that. They are right because indeed, there is such a moment! The good news is that it's REAL.

They are wrong because they think that moment lives somewhere off in the future.

Truth is - that moment is RIGHT NOW.

If you are sitting there reading this and you want to start a business, get up from your cube and go give your boss two-weeks' notice.

Do you think that's suicide? I don't.

What I think is suicide is staying in your cube day after day, betraying your dreams, and minimizing the level of success you have, financially and creatively, and limiting the amazing difference you can make in this world.

That's suicide. It's just very, very slow suicide that might feel safe for a while, but to quote an old adage: "On our deathbeds, no one every says 'Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office."

To that I would add that no one says:"Gee, I wish I spent more time in the office building someone else's dream and putting money in their pocket instead of my own."

You should jump ship now, start selling your product/service as hard as you can, cut costs in your life to the point that you can, and have faith that you will be victorious.

In my 5 tours as a start-up officer, this is the ONLY pathway I have seen work.

People who try and balance a full-time corporate job end up working themselves into a frenzy. It's actually harder than jumping ship, driving Uber for a while, and eating Ramen in a crappy apartment until you get your dream up and running.

However compelling all this may sound, please remember, this is my opinion and based in my personal experience. I cannot tell you what to do. I can just tell you where I've been and what I've seen.

Good luck in your venture. May your boat find favorable winds.


Sunny Saurabh Founder & CEO @Frrankly.com - a video social network. Ex-LinkedIn, Google, MySpace.

June 15th, 2017

Your question reminds me of the quote, 'advice is what we ask for, when you already know the answer, but wish you didn't.' For me, I realised when I woke up one morning, and didn't feel like going to work, instead wanted to spend more time developing my idea, I decided to quit. It isn't easy though. You have to decide, whether you want the money or do something that truly makes you happy.

Tabitha Rono Consultant and Investor

July 27th, 2017

Hi Rodrigo,

Its a good thing that you have been able to start a business. You seem to have a dilemma on whether to quit and focus on your business. There are a few questions one would ask like am I ready to give my business the full time attention? Am I in a position to get someone to work for me, am I able to sacrifice some things in my personal budget to accommodate my business. I always say after thorough analysis follow your gut with an open determined mind.

Martin Omansky Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional

June 14th, 2017

We generally recommend that founders have two years worth of salary and expenses in reserve, plus a significant cash investment in the business, before going full time.

Bryan Sykes Cofounder, Chief People Officer, Behavioural Researcher, Author

Last updated on August 4th, 2017

I don't think there's a formulaic answer to your enquiry. However, have you thought about creating an "exit strategy" to help you close the gap between the signals of your gut instinct and executing on the best way to move forward? After quitting medical school, I found myself in a similar predicament with a full-time job while straddling my first side startup business (using my neuroscience background to build behavioural trading software).

While eventually the startup failed, the exit strategy (which by no means is fool proof) helped me to mitigate many of the elements mentioned in the thread such as making sure I had enough salary/capital to support my efforts while strategically taking on calculated risks, etc. In short, the exit strategy was my mental model for eliminating fear, dealing with uncertainty, and making better decisions to lean forward full-time and being okay with the consequences.

Hugh Proctor Founder of LayrCake Low-Code Software Outsourcing

July 29th, 2017

Hi Rodrigo,

For personal experience, I'd keep your job.

What I personally did, and I've not necessarily been successful at doing it due to unusual reasons, was:

Background: My area of entrepreneurship was in the heavy challenging backend part of tech. I found a huge area that very large and small companies are having a very difficult time with.

The industry is worth $10 billion with a 36% growth expected in 2018 and 2019.

So, the tech is extremely, extremely difficult.

I quit my job as a permanent employee earning £60k a year to become a contractor earning £100k (minus tax). I didn't pay 1/3 of the tax on the contracting for UK R&D purposes, and I saved up every penny - sold the car, gym, mobile, restaurants, basically gave up everything.

I invested in an Online Business & Management Degree whilst doing 6 month contracting stints working evenings and weekends for a year. Then I took my savings to Colombia (where living is cheaper) and spend a year and a half boxed in a room until I had a working prototype.

Then I came back to the UK and got another contract working for a very large company and networked to grow, develop a team, and I pitched the product to the CTO. He loved the product and his feedback was that it would save millions to his company. The unforseen issue and reason it didn't sell was I had gone in to the meeting with my father who sadly messed up the immediate sell and the CTO told me to come back with a bigger team in 6 months.

I tried to recruit a few colleagues, 4 of them to make up the team, but my brother gate crashed my pitch to them, and they went away unconvinced saying that the one multi-billion dollar competitor was too much for them.

I went back to the coding to fix up a few things and 6 months of trying to grow the team again. I had another failing with another possible team member who didn't send the documentation to the client, called us Unprofessional and we lost a £150k yearly, subsidised first sale subscription deal.

I then carried on programming and tried to do the pitch deck approach and market at business events, I got a load of interest with companies asking to demo, but again still didn't have the team to support a sale even if it had gone through.

Pitching in the UK has been unsuccessful, VCs love the project but want to see £500k revenue and a team and the audience isn't tech savy enough to understand the business challenges to large companies.

I had had Shell CTO interested but again, no team to support, so, great product, huge huge market size, not another £1m mini business, but finding people dedicated is virtually impossible now that my funds have depleted.

So, I'm about £400k invested and searching for Cofounders to pretend to make up the team.

I risked everything for many years, it's not been fun though I have enjoyed many parts of it and my tech is genius - so I'll take at least that knowledge to my grave though this master piece may never get to market.

A business needs to have enough revenue to support you working in it plus enough scalable future growth potential that you can hire another less able person to do 60% of what you'd have been doing as Ops.

So for example, a very simple example:

You see there is a need for apples in your town and you have loads of apples.

You set up a small stall to sell your apples and quit your nicely paid job. Selling apples isn't going to make you a lot of money, and you might make only a few sales, so you add bananas and strawberries to your stall.

You need to get someone to man the stall so you can have a holiday, they need to be trustworth but trustworth is very difficult to find, especially if your only paying them peanuts.

You have to make sure that you have enough peanuts to pay for your employee and all the apples, bananas, strawberrys and yourself. There also needs to be a good profit margin as investors won't invest if they don't receive a dividend of the profits (after tax). If the investor will receive only a few hundred peanuts for their few thousand investment, then they would be better off leaving their peanuts in a high interest bank account.

So,, if your business requires more time from you, and from putting more time in then you would at least double your revenue, then it might be worth it. Otherwise, leave the business as being a good experience and look for alternative opportunities, maybe by joining another team.

Hope this helps. Hugh

Victor Amahah Entrepreneur

Last updated on July 30th, 2017

There is no perfect time! Either you cut on your living cost or you just jump. Inconvenience is the best motivation to reach your goal! Because when you experience inconvenience you think fast and act swift to find solutions.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business coach

June 14th, 2017

It's a risk either way. Your business could continue to be a hobby for a very long time because it doesn't receive the amount of love, attention, and urgency that it would get if you made it your top priority. Or you could be underfunded and lose both your new business and all your money. It is difficult for someone outside to know your situation. It's not really a "business" until it's operating under its own power, it's a hobby. But that doesn't mean your hobby doesn't make money. The owner is always the last one to get paid, so even when your new enterprise is making money, you may not be able to pay yourself. I've founded four companies, and you're right that this step is one of the hardest leaps to make. Only you will know how frugally you can live and what you're willing to sacrifice.

Craig Lillard 15 Yr Startup, Tech & Video Entrepreneur - Host of The Traffic Show

July 29th, 2017

I was right there with you.

My first start-up was taking off, but I held on as long as I could.

For me it came down to them giving me an ultimatum. Then I had no choice. However by that point I had pretty much replaced my salary so it wasn't that big of a deal.

How far away from replacing your salary are you? Are things on a clear measurable upward trend and if so how fast could you accelerate if you were spending all your time on it?

Also I had a wife and 2 kids so that matters. If I didn't I may have taken more risk. What about you?


July 29th, 2017

There are a variety of factors that go into leaving a full-time job behind. A situation for one person is never going to be exactly the same for another. You always need to evaluate any situational and economic factors (Family, Finances, Environment, etc).

But at the end of the day, as Wayne Gretzky famously said, "You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take." Building your own business is always daunting. But, remember, you are also leaving behind a business that someone else built due to that same entrepreneurial passion and spirit that you are now overcome by. Building a new business takes time, tireless effort, and commitment. If you believe in yourself and you believe in what you are trying to build, it can be done.