Over the years, I’ve heard mixed opinions about this topic. Some people say keep your job and work on your idea on the side, because you need the income and you never know if your idea is good enough. Others say having a job will prevent you from giving your full attention to your idea, which might be the reason it fails or someone else beats you to it.
And I’ve seen friends who left their jobs pursuing an entrepreneurial dream, only to start looking for another job a few months later, and others who never regretted their decision to quit.
In my case, I quit even before having an idea or a plan. My corporate job was draining my energy, and I knew that quitting was the right thing to do. Not having mortgage or kids definitely made that decision easier, but it took three years and a couple of failed products to start generating revenue from my ideas. In the meantime, I supported myself by consulting for other companies, which gave me the freedom to work when I needed to make money, and to focus on my products full time otherwise.
I am not recommending quitting before having an idea or a plan, but in retrospect, it was the best decision for me.
So when should you keep your full time job?
– If you need a regular income to sustain your current lifestyle, pay your mortgage, put your kids through school, etc…
– If your idea isn’t clear enough, or if it hasn’t been validated or tested with the market.
– If your job is actually giving you the experience you need (business, marketing, design, development,…) to execute on your idea.
– If you have enough time to work on your idea during the evenings and weekends, and you’re seeing good progress and results.
Sometimes having less time to work on your idea may work to your advantage: you’ll be more focused and more productive, and you’ll be wasting less time reading news and attending events. Having less time will force you to use it wisely.
And when should you quit your job to pursue your idea?
– If your job is draining you from the energy you need to work on your idea.
– If you have enough savings, or another source of income, that can support you till you start generating money or secure some funding.
– If you can consult or freelance for other companies to make some money while working on your idea. This is a great option because you’re in control of your own time, and you work only when you need to.
– If you can quickly implement part of your idea that becomes profitable enough to support your work on expanding and improving the product. This is my favorite option because your idea has already been validated, and you no longer need to divide your time between making money and working on the product.
Keynotopia, which was launched in a weekend and became instantly profitable, was literally a bullet point in a large product vision and business plan that I had been working on at the time. I stripped it out and launched it as an individual product, and it’s now helping me bootstrap that larger vision.
At the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not you quit your job. What matters is that you do work on your idea. If you’re passionate enough and you believe in it, you’ll make time either way.