Article written and contributed by Laura Tien from Workit Spaces eCommerce Hub

If you’ve been working a 9 to 5 but have always dreamed of running your own small business, you might be wondering what the best way to move from one avenue to the other is. It’s not always an easy process, however, we’ll share our best tips for making the transition a bit less rocky.

This article will feature Eunica Shaw who started her own eco-friendly baby product business, Alcmena, while she worked a corporate job at Ernst & Young. She is one of the many female entrepreneurs who runs her business from the Workit Spaces eCommerce Hub, a coworking space with storage space, a loading dock, and a shipping station.

You can watch her story as well as the stories of four other female entrepreneurs in the video below. This is an episode of the Workit Reality series called Women of Workit. These women share how they got their start in business as well as their experience battling the current coronavirus pandemic.

Don’t quit your office job straight away

This advice might be a little bit more unconventional, and definitely won’t be right for everyone, but is still something you might want to consider. If you haven’t actually started your business or it’s still in its very early stages, it might not make sense for you to leave a stable job straight away. Instead, take the time to build a foundation for your business and a thorough exit plan.

In a study published by the Academy of Management, it was found that people who started their business while they were still working their full-time jobs were 33% more likely to be successful compared to those who quit their jobs before starting. This method has been dubbed ‘hybrid entrepreneurship’.

Shaw was working as a Transfer Pricing Analyst at Ernst & Young for a couple of years originally. She started her business in hopes to create a profitable business that would allow her to give back to the community and to charity. She continued to work in corporate and on her business at the same time until she was more confident that Alcmena was sustainable.

Take the time to do research

It may sound obvious but doing proper research is often overlooked when budding entrepreneurs get caught up in the excitement of starting a business. It’s crucial that you look into the industry that you hope to make a mark in and to see what competitors are doing. Ask yourself if there’s a gap in the market that you can fill.

Alcmena was created when Shaw saw the demand for reusable cloth nappies, changing mats and other baby products with fun patterns. She created an easy system for mothers who are more conscious of their carbon footprint, allowing them to shop according to their values without having to compromise on convenience.

One of Shaw’s best tips is to give customers a reason to choose your business over a similar brand. She said, “For us, it’s our prints and our customer service. Our customers are our friends first and we make sure they feel it. Nothing is ever too much trouble – that’s why they remain loyal, despite all the manufacturing and other issues we have experienced.”

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Develop a plan

Developing a business plan is a lot easier said than done but is essential for starting a solid small business. The first few considerations to make include business structure, business name, and business location. Then, you’ll have to really hone in on questions such as; Is your business idea viable? Do you have the skills it takes? How will you finance your business?

Then, you’ll need to take a look at functions such as marketing and finance in more depth. Figure out how who your target market is and how you plan on acquiring them. In terms of money, consider how much money your business can actually make. Compare this to the time you plan to invest and figure out if it will be worthwhile in the long run.

Start taking actions

Having a plan is great but it doesn’t become a business until you start making moves. Don’t expect to have everything up and running in the matter of days, but don’t dilly-dally either. You’ll want part of your plan to include a guideline of when you want certain tasks to be done by. Register your business, start a website, claim your social media names, get photos taken, etc.

“I’ve made a tonne of mistakes along the way, some probably because I was too excited or impatient, but I’ve also learned a lot through my mistakes. If you plan and plan and plan, the market will evolve and change and by the time you think you’re ready to take your product or service to market, people’s needs and preferences will have changed and you’ll need to start from scratch,” said Shaw.

Is starting a business right for you?

Though in an ideal world, it would be great for everyone to start their own thriving businesses, it might not be the ideal time for you. This isn’t to say that you should never quit your office job to start your own small business, this is just to say that you have to make sure your circumstances will allow you to take this risk.

The reality is, some businesses will fail, and you need room to be able to learn from your mistakes. Shaw explained, “My family did not rely on my EY income to survive, so when we lost it, we didn’t starve, and I don’t have kids yet, so my time, money and emotional energy could be spent flexibly. I say this to highlight the reasons I have been able to achieve what I have.”

If you’re comfortable with your office job, and it allows you to spend enough time with the people you love, it might be worth waiting for a different chapter in your life to begin before you start your own business. There’s a lot of pressure right now for you to do more, especially with everyone having a side hustle. Remember that everyone is on their own journey!

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