The (Sensible) Leap of Faith

leap of faith over a river

Years ago I made the choice to leave the full time corporate world and go out on my own. I did it for many reasons, not the least of which was because I just couldn’t stand the toxic office games and politics. For the sake of my mental health I knew I had to do something. So I took a leap of faith and went out on my own. Of course it wasn’t all fairy tales and rainbows. I struggled for a while before I really found my footing and learned how to run a business. I adjusted, though, and the leap paid off.

A big reason why the leap worked out for me was that I didn’t make a blind leap. I didn’t storm into my bosses’ office one day and scream, “I quit,” at the top of my lungs (not that I didn’t want to). I planned my leap. At night I read about how to start a business. I worked my contact network and took jobs on the side to build up my client base. I learned about taxes and accounting. When I felt that I had a solid base in place, only then did I give my notice and quit my job.

Sometimes in your financial and work life you just need to take that leap of faith. It may mean the difference between an average life and one that is extraordinary. It may mean the difference between a so-so portfolio and one that leaves you short. The opposite can also be true. A leap of faith can leave you jobless, or with a portfolio in tatters. While there may be some factors that you can’t control that determine your success or failure, the main difference between a successful leap and a disaster is planning.

If you’re thinking about becoming self-employed, trying to invest on your own, quitting a job to stay home, or anything else that requires you to leave the safety and security of your known world, you want to do it sensibly. Just leaping off the edge can be exhilarating but is also dangerous. Take your time and plan your strategy. Learn everything you can about your new endeavor. Everything you can learn ahead of time acts as a hedge against confusion and disaster. Practice, if you can. If you can take jobs on the side to build your reputation, do it. If you can invest with just a few dollars, practice for a while and learn the ins and outs of the market before you commit all your savings.

A sensible leap of faith also requires that you prepare financially as well as intellectually. Don’t quit your job to start a business unless you can support yourself somehow until your new venture takes off. While you’re planning, save money and look for grants or other funding, if applicable. If you’re looking at taking risks with money in the stock market, don’t do it with money you can’t afford to lose. Build up a pile of “play money” that you can use to try out your strategies. If you’re trying to stay home, try living on one income for a while to see if you can do it.

A leap of faith can lead you to a more fulfilling and richer life, both personally and financially. However, it’s best done sensibly and with thought rather than impulsively. You wouldn’t just bungee jump off a bridge without checking your equipment and researching the safety record of the company overseeing the jump (I hope) so why would you treat your financial leaps any differently?

(Image courtesy of mic_p)

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2 Responses to The (Sensible) Leap of Faith

  1. S. B. says:

    I like this article because there is a balanced discussion of risk and reward. I’m really tired of reading articles about how great it is to start your own business without much recognition of the fact that there is a lot of risk involved. On the other hand, I’m also tired of risk-mongering articles that just say how everything is so risky, so we all ought to just be content with our corporate jobs, index funds, and an end lot in suburbia.

    As you suggest, the real trick is to mitigate the risk while still pursuing the rewards.

  2. Tim says:

    Good article. If having your own business and being self employed was easy and risk free everyone would be doing it. Having your own business is completely the opposite. With hard work come a greater reward.

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