Whether you’ve had an idea for your business for a few months or it’s something you’ve been dreaming of for years, you may also be wondering when the ideal time to launch is. The truth is that there’s really no such thing as an ideal time, but there are definitely wrong times, and some times are better than others. It’s also not really a case of how long you’ve had the idea. Quality rather than quantity of planning is key here. Below are a few questions to ask yourself before moving ahead.
How Are Your Finances?
Whether or not you’re using your own money to fund this enterprise, when you’re broke or struggling with debt is far from ideal. That doesn’t mean that you need to be rolling in cash to get your business up and running, but you do need to have your finances in order. You need to know exactly how much you have coming in and going out and be on a steady schedule to pay off debts. This is a good time to make a budget, an exercise in discipline that will serve you well as an entrepreneur when you need to be aware of where every cent is going.
Look to refinancing student loans if you still owe on them, finding a lender who can offer you a lower monthly payment plan to give you some financial breathing room. Try to pay off any credit cards before you get started or at least investigate getting a lower interest rate. Know the minimal amount of income that you need for covering your living expenses so that you’ll also know the exact moment when you’re able to pay yourself enough to cover the basics.
What’s Going on in Your Life?
Are you planning a wedding, or do you have a new baby? Are you caregiving for elderly parents and taking care of kids at the same time? Are you going through a divorce or another major stressful life event? There is never going to be a moment in your life that’s entirely smooth sailing, but these are all situations in which launching a business at the same time can turn simply be too much. If you’re dealing with a newborn, you’re not going to be able to give the time and attention to your child or your new venture that either needs.
What’s also important to note about most of these situations is that they’re time limited. Your six-week-old won’t be six weeks old forever; the big wedding day eventually comes and goes. Divorce can be a particular problem because depending on where you live and other circumstances, your new business could be considered shared property that gets divided. The bottom line is that if life is crazy right now, maybe wait six months.
Have You Done the Planning?
It’s easy to get so excited about your business idea and so swept up in how well you think it’s going to do that you neglect the necessary planning. This can seem tedious, but it’s also crucial, and you may be surprised at how much you can build up your entrepreneurial skills along the way. If you assume that you don’t need a business plan because you aren’t looking for loans or investors, you may be robbing yourself of an excellent tool that can help you identify omissions in your vision. When you look at a heading like Marketing or Competition and realize that you have no idea who your customers are or what the competition is up to and how you’ll differentiate yourself from them, you’ll have the opportunity to remedy this now on paper before you making any big mistakes.
Have You Thought Through Funding?
Even if you think you have, think again. Funding is not just about having some money at the start or assuming that at minimum, you’ll make enough to put back into the business and keep it running. It’s also thinking about the medium and long term. What will you do if you run into cash flow issues? How will you handle unpaid invoices? These are issues that can sink an otherwise successful company if you don’t have a cushion to get you through these times. Even if you’re eager to leave the job you already have, consider as well if it might be smarter to stick around for a little longer and get your new business started on the side.