How to (Realistically) Plan Your Exit Strategy
Everyone should start a business at least once in their life. Entrepreneurship will make you a better person.
Want to listen? There's an audio version below
But, as we get older, as we take on more responsibilities, becoming an entrepreneur becomes more and more difficult.
Since I want you to leave your job, start a business and do what you love, I want to discuss how you can realistically plan your exit strategy so you can live a life you enjoy and do what you want.
A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends told me he finally started his own business installing home automation and home theater systems. I thought it was a perfect fit for my friend, as he and I have spent hours talking about speakers, receivers, TVs, and other tech stuff.
And, when my friend told me his business was growing and he was getting more and more referrals, I couldn't have been happier for him.
But, my friend still has a day job.
As do many aspiring entrepreneurs.
Though he hasn't made his side hustle his main jam yet, he's found a way to make money doing what he loves. While working on growing his business, he gets to do something he enjoys (playing with technology) while talking about something that fascinates him (new gadgets). It doesn't get any better than that.
And his success is proof leaving your job and doing what you love possible for all of us!
So I grabbed my phone and started taking notes in Evernote. I wanted to lay out a few items to help you develop a realistic plan for leaving your job so you can build a business you love.
If you're ready to put in the time, effort, energy, blood, sweat, and tears to start your business, read on my entrepreneurial friend!
How to (Really) Leave Your Job and Do What You Love
Step 1: Begin by Eliminating
The year before I got fired, the same year I made over $20,000 in one month, Ashley and I spent over $700 at the movies.
Relax. It's our money! All joking aside, we spent a lot of money together doing things we enjoy, and going to the movies was one of those things.
The year after I got fired, the first year I went all-in on building my business, we eliminated extraneous spending and only spent about $100 on movies. If you're going to start a business, you've got to think about what you can eliminate from your life.
What can you do without?
What can you with less of?
I know, talking about eliminating isn't the coolest way to start, but it's one of the most important.
And, when it comes to removing things from your life, I'm also talking about getting rid of wasted time, wasted energy, and items on your calendar that don't help you achieve your goals. Even if you had all of the money in the world, you'd still have to eliminate something from your schedule so you'd have the time you need to put in the work.
Helpful Tips for Eliminating
- Sell a car
- Pay off debts
- Buy used
- Learn how to build or fix things yourself
- Cancel memberships that require time and money (even if they look good on a resume)
- Downsize your home
- Stop hanging out with negative people
- Start saying “no” more often
Again, I know, it's not sexy to talk about giving things up, but you'll be glad you did, even if you don't start a business. Entrepreneurs have to sacrifice more than they expect.
Step 2: Find Something You Love
There is no point in starting a business only to do something you hate. Believe me, building a business is enough work that you've got to love what you do.
In the case of my friend, he started a business talking about a topic he was already talking about and doing for clients what he was already doing for himself. His business will allow him to do what he loves.
Helpful Tips for Finding Something You Love
- Ask yourself: What do I do in my spare time?
- Ask yourself: What would I do even if I didn't get paid for it?
- Ask yourself: What things do I keep coming back to and learning about?
- Try something new
- Get out of your comfort zone
- Ask your friends and family what you do best
Once you've answered these questions or tried a few new things, it's time to start… you guessed it, eliminating the options so you can find the best one. Once you've narrowed down your options to three or less, continue on.
Step 3: Solve a Problem
Now that you've determined what you can eliminate from your life and what you enjoy doing the most, figure out the problem your business and its products will solve.
I don't lead with this step because the problem you solve might not be one you'd have fun solving. Again, if you're not going to have fun in your business, you'll never be able to drag yourself out of bed to do the work.
Entrepreneurial Mindset = Find a Problem. Fix a Problem.
Problem-solving is one of the foundations of the entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs find problems and fix them. Often those problems are ones we face, and then we begin to fix them for other people.
Helpful Tips for Finding a Problem to Solve
- Find a problem you have
- Fix it
- Find other people with the same problem
- Offer to fix it
I know it is simple to say “find a problem, fix a problem,” but that, in a nutshell, is what entrepreneurs do. As the saying goes, “if you want to make a million dollars then help a million people,” and the more problems you can solve, the more money you will make.
After this exercise, if you still have multiple things you could do for your business, and if those things are all equally enjoyable, then consider which business idea has the largest target market or which idea could be the most profitable. If the target market is small, and you can't make any money solving the problem, it's best to move on.
Step 4: Understand the Costs
It doesn't take a lot of money to start a business these days. I started my business with almost no startup capital, and I only invested in upgrades after my products and services generated revenue. You don't have to drag yourself into a bank and beg for a small business loan to get started.
Listen to this episode with Lauren Gaggioli where we talk about how much it costs to get started. We also talk about how she eliminated over $1000 a year in expenses, so it's well worth your time.
Helpful Tips for Determining Costs
- List everything you'll need
- Visit the websites of the businesses offering those services
- Shop for the best prices available
- Check out my Resources page for a list of the tools I use and recommend
- Determine what you need, what you could do without (at least for a while), and what you could bootstrap until you turn a profit
- Consider outsourcing to the experts
I can run all of my businesses for about $300 a month in expenses. Maybe that's a lot, maybe it isn't, but the way I've set things up allows me to work from anywhere, and I'm able to scale up (or down) at any time. I know what I'm good at and stick to those things, and I outsource the rest. Your best cost-reducing task could be paying someone else to do a task, so don't forget to think about hiring an expert.
Want an Expert to Build Your Website and Design Your Sales Funnels? Click here for a quote!
Step 5: Read this Book
Once you've figured out what you can eliminate, found something you love doing that profitably solves a problem, and determined what your startup costs might be, it's time to start developing your exit strategy.
To build your strategy, you need to invest just a few dollars and buy my book Exit Strategy: The Exact Tactics to Transition from Where You Have to Be to Where You Want to Be.
In my book, I outline the only business model that works, the content types you should create to establish your brand in the marketplace, and how you can lay a solid foundation for a successful and scalable business.
Helpful Tips for Reading Exit Strategy
- Read it with a pen and notebook handy
- Read it once all the way through, then go back to Part 3: The Roadmap
- Find a buddy to work through it with you and keep you accountable
- Do everything the book says
- Hire a business coach or join a mastermind when you're done to help you with business development and strategic planning
This last step might sound a little self-promotional, but I'm living proof that Exit Strategy works. Right now I'm sitting on my front porch, enjoying the great Texas weather, and doing what I love, all because of the tactics I outlined in that book. And don't worry, even if you don't want to start an online business, the strategies in the book work and will help you develop your brand and grow your company.
After you've eliminated everything you can from your life, look at your budget and you'll see how much revenue your business needs to generate before you can leave your job. When you've put your exit strategy in play and your revenues catch up to your salary or hourly wage, you're ready to make your exit and take the leap.
If you really want to make an effort to transition into work you love, click here to read what I'd tell you if you wanted to pick my brain.