This is a dream that many people have; to one day leave full-time employment to focus on business or a worthy social cause. Perhaps you wondered what the best time to leave was. Or whether you would succeed or not.

Leaving your job should not be an overnight decision.  Plenty of time and energy must be spent on it. Begin by identifying your passion or drive. Before you consider making your move, explore the following steps carefully.

1.   Don’t just decide alone, consult widely

Leaving a full-time job, where you have been working for an extended period, can be a major decision. It’s not a decision to be rushed and may not be ideal for everyone.

While we’d love to tell you to go out and follow your social good passion, this can be a really big decision. One that you should only make this after wide consultation, especially with those who care about you. Also feel free to include some professionals in your consultations list. Make a list of everyone you know that is already doing what you need to do, then reach out to them first with your plans.

Talking to people helps you understand what to prepare for. Discuss your ideas with your mentors to obtain advice. Find out if your friends believe in your idea. Is your spouse or partner willing to take this major risk with you? Put out a wide net to figure out what resources you’ll have if you do decide to leave and go out it alone. This is the first step in your plan to make your dreams a reality.

Not sure how to find social entrepreneur opportunities? Read our in-depth article on How to Find Social Entrepreneur Opportunities to get started if you don’t know where to start. 

2.   Ensure you have a feasible idea

Spend time examining your idea to establish whether it is viable. Within a day, numerous ideas cross your mind. Although many of them are good, not each is sustainable. The theory is very different from actuality and what may seem excellent in theory, may not work in real life.

Check carefully your idea’s viability. This includes a lot of market research.

Identify any potential competitors involved in a similar business or cause. How did they start? What made them succeed? Why? What made others fail? Find out how consumer-ready your solution is before implementing it. Again, we’re telling you to do your homework. It can take a few weeks of hard-core market research to figure out if you have a viable idea.

Sometimes the best way to test out an idea is just to get out there with it. We’ve talked to many social entrepreneurs that had to test out their ideas on the front line — sometimes that’s the best way!

You also might want to figure out your business model at this stage. Don’t worry, we have you covered! We talked to Tim Berry about lean business planning last month and he set out 4 steps that you can do today! Read the full article on Lean Business Planning and get started! Get to know your business before you make the big leap to do it full time. It could save you a ton of money and time!

3.   Outline a Detailed Financial Plan

You knew we’d talk about money, right.

It costs money to start a business. It costs even more to grow a business.

It’s up to you to make sure your finances are in order if you want to make that leap from employee to powerful change creator! It can be done, but you need to be strategic and smart if you want to succeed.

Remember this. Leaving your job means losing a source of sustainable income. You need to have counter measures in place to help you transition to your business or cause becomes profitable.  Your financial plan needs to be perfectly orchestrated to help you avoid financial challenges.

Evaluate how much money you have and what amount is needed to fund your current lifestyle. How long can your savings last? In case money runs out, what backup options are available? How can you lower your fixed expenses? How will you deal with debt? Begin now to accumulate cash reserves that will cover your future expenses and offer a constant income stream.

We won’t leave you stranded. We’ve got lots of content on our funding, investments, budgets for you here! It’s our number one question we get from you — How do I get funding for my social enterprise?

Here are some amazing resources for you to check out:

  1. How to know what type of investment to seek out — This article quickly explains the various ways you can get funded. Start here to figure out your options.
  2. You’ll have to do some serious number crunching in your own life. Here are 5 tips for managing your own finances as well.
  3. For more on funding, you should read this article on everything you’ll need to know to get considered for funding and growth!

4.    Success is not guaranteed

Branching out on your own doesn’t guarantee automatic success. Be prepared for the reality that the first few months (or years) may involve a lot of struggle with few rewards. Refuse to be discouraged and commit to keeping it no matter what. Change how you measure success and make fulfillment a big part of that.

Being a change creator is not for the faint of heart, but you know that.

Bear in mind that many successful individuals failed several times before they finally succeeded. Leaving your full-time job is very challenging but can be rewarding in the end if done right. Preserve your relationships and don’t burn your bridges as you leave. You might either need to get back to working or connect with employers as part of your business.

As stated, success is still not guaranteed, therefore establish multiple income sources. In fact, you can start working on your new cause while still employed, then only leave when you see some form of sustainable success. Whatever you decide to do, always have an open mind.

We have already shared a lot of stories of people who stuck with it and built successful social enterprises. It can be tough in the beginning stages, but that’s why we learn from these amazing examples — it’s motivating to hear other’s stories of how they got started.

Here’s what you need to do when you are getting discouraged. Listen to some of our amazing Podcasts! Here are a few of our fave pics to keep you focused on what really matters:

  1. How to Overcome Life Challenges and Pursue Your Mission — In this podcast, Adam sits down to talk to Iffit Qureshi who had overcome personal and professional challenges to pursue her mission.
  2. How to take your side hustle into your full-time hustle. This podcast with Nick Loper will give you valuable insights on how to make your side project your main mission. Isn’t that what we are all here to do.
  3. Creating a responsible food system with Tom McDougall. In this podcast, we learned how to quickly get an idea on the table. You’ll be more motivated to get moving on your mission after hearing what Tom has to say!

You can spend so long preparing to prepare that you never launch.” ~Tom McDougall

5.   Stay motivated and learn from others

Fear and doubt are expected as you consider leaving full-time employment. When you are committed, staying motivated becomes critical. Design in detail how the new life will be and review this daily. Identify and connect to people that will build you towards your goal and teach you more. Communicate regularly with them.

Stay positive and place yourself in a position where the only option is to keep going. Read about people who made the transition and thrived. Learn from their mistakes and embrace their advice. Listen to encouraging podcasts and don’t be afraid to ask for help because this will bring success faster.

After going through these steps and you feel confident about leaving, go ahead. At least you will be more prepared to make the move.

Of course, we’ve talked about motivation a lot on the site. All of us at Change Creator magazine get discouraged at times. There are so many variables in growing a business — money, time, risk, reward… it can be overwhelming at times. That’s why I wrote this blog: How to Be Motivated – 5 Ways to Find Motivation Before You Hit the Big Time.

If you don’t want to be working for ‘the man’ anymore and you have the fire in your belly to do something meaningful in your life, stick with us here at Change Creator magazine. We help people like you break free from the norm every, single day through informative articles, insights you won’t find anywhere else, and interviews with people on the front line of change. It isn’t easy to leave the safety and security of a full-time job, but with a lot of determination, some planning, and a lot of hard work — it can be done.