Quitting your job…the TRUE American dream.

Casting off the shackles of your oppressive tyrant of an employer and doing your own thing…so many of us dream of that magical moment where we can march into the boss’ office, slam down your fist, and bust out a big “Take this job and shove it!”

Ahhhh.

Fast forward two months.

“Wow…I should have planned this better.”

You should have saved more.  You really needed a better plan in place.  The bills are piling up, and what little nugget of a cash reserve you squirreled away is quickly leaking away.

And one day, that same sense of romance, hopes, and/or dreams fades.

It’s hastily and quite hard-hittingly replaced by the “F” word…”FEAR.”

You spend your days and some very long nights balancing whatever semblance of a business you began with somewhere between panic and terror, wondering how you’re going to make this work.

This leads to feelings of scarcity…”I’ll take whatever I can get so I don’t go into (more) debt.”  Odd jobs.  Work you’re qualified for, but you probably never would have considered doing six months ago.

Desperation.  Angst.

Although it builds character…this is not the ideal to make the leap into your new career or business.

Instead, let’s look at three essential components you MUST have in place BEFORE you even THINK about cutting off your main source of income.

1. 6-12 Months of Savings

I can’t emphasize how difficult it is to start and run a business when you are frantically worried about how you’re going to find cash for dinner tomorrow night.  There’s plenty to be said for bootstrapping and building character through suffering.  But if your focus is on the bottom row of your Maslowian needs, you can’t focus on the tasks at hand.

2. A Highly Detailed Plan That You’ve Had an Expert Review for You

More than once, I’ve employed the “Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality and figured that I would just iron out the details along the way.  It’s exceptionally hard to make that work.  That’s the reason battles won are planned ahead of time, taking into account elements like the competitive landscape, viable marketing channels, etc.

Be prepared for everything you can think of, and then run it by someone who has succeeded in your industry before.  Have them give it the thumbs up, or rip it to shreds and reworked if necessary.  Either way, you will know how to get where you’re going before you ever get behind the wheel.

3. Reliable, Qualified, and Arbitrary Support

This can come in the form of a mentor, a peer group or mastermind, or anyone else who can help you along the way.  Businesses are not built in a vacuum, even though many of us entrepreneur types tend to think we can and should do it all ourselves.  The most successful people tend to be those who are willing to accept advice and criticism as not personal attacks, but keys to growth.

Check your arrogance at the door and allow yourself to keep a small and trusted counsel of experts, non-experts, and just generally people who refuse to let you give up.

As someone who has made these mistakes many times, I can safely say it’s hard enough to make a new business work even WITH all these things in place.  But once they’re ready to go, your chance are a lot greater that you’ll be in it for the long haul.