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Before calling it quits…

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Your mind is made up: you’re going into business for yourself. Now you’re wondering whether or not you should leave your current job right away.

Any business owner will tell you, the first few months of business ownership are tough going from a financial standpoint. You might be better off making sure your venture is profitable before you kiss your job and regular paycheques goodbye.

The best course of action? “Take evenings and weekends to work on your project, and hold back on handing in your resignation. Unless, of course, your current job gets in the way of you accepting contracts,” says Nancy Mercier, a business start-up counsellor at Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi (a Quebec organization that helps people aged 16-35 find jobs or go back to school) what she thought would-be business owners should do.

Take the time to prepare

Make the most of your time as a salaried worker. “This is a good time to put a business plan together and see if there is enough demand for your product or services,” advises Patrice Gagnon, general manager of the l’Association des professionnels en développement économique du Québec, an association that promotes economic development.

This is also the best time to make sure that you’re in good financial health. According to Michel Fortin, general manager at Service d’aide aux jeunes entrepreneurs, an organization that counsels young entrepreneurs, you’ll need enough savings to cover your personal and professional expenses for three months because you can’t count on having a business income for that period. “Pay off your bills or open a line of credit now while you still have a regular income. It will be harder to get one later, when you don’t have regular cheques rolling in.”

Discretion is the name of the game

While you wait for your project to take off, don’t tell your boss or co-workers about your business ambitions, adds Mercier. In fact, your superiors might be offended if they find out you’re thinking of leaving the company – especially if they hear it from someone else. On the other hand, Michel Fortin points out that you shouldn’t wait too long to let your intentions be known, “particularly if your company is targeting the same clientele as your employer.”

Finally, it’s good to be cautious…but not too much! “Time spent at work is time away from your new business. Think of it like baseball: you can’t steal second base if you’ve still got a foot on first,” concludes Gagnon.

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