Find Start Grow Blog

A blog about real entrepreneurial stories and experiences for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs

Taking The Plunge

You have a business idea. You want to make that idea a reality. You’re contemplating if you’re ready to take the plunge. This moment is the turning point for many future business owners and is often one of the most daunting decisions they’ll need to make.

Today we’ll talk about a business owner who would like to take his part time, at home business to the next level. His decision to make this a reality is wrought with questions that plague all individuals who would like to start their own business. But when do you decide if you have all the answers to make that plunge?

Meet Andy Koulanjian from Koul Cakes (pronounced “cool cakes”). Originally from Los Angeles, he moved to Northern Virginia with his family where he is a self-employed part-time pastry chef. He makes custom cakes, all from scratch and hand delivers them to his customer. His pieces of art as we like to call it, take center stage at every party. His customers even mention that they are not only beautiful but the best cake they have ever tasted. Based on the quality of his product and service he provides, his business has grown solely from word of mouth.

After having his part-time business for a few years, his business has grown but not enough for him to leave his full-time job. So, what does Andy do now? Does he take the plunge and pursue a job he is clearly passionate and talented about? Or does he stick to his full-time job that covers his bills but leave his dreams of being his own boss in the dust?

In speaking with Andy and learning more about his business and challenges, I asked him what was preventing him from taking Koul Cakes as a side gig and making that his full-time business.

I’m currently working at least 50 hours a week, including Saturdays and trying to run Koul Cakes at the same time is pretty difficult.  When I receive an order, I start making the cake for my customer on Wednesday and have to deliver it by Saturday.  I’m hoping to grow this small business but right now, trying to run Koul Cakes and work full-time is pretty difficult as they both require a lot of my time and energy.  It’s tough but I’m trying to push through and grow this business so that I don’t have to have two jobs and can focus on Koul Cakes full time.

Andy Koulanjian

I then asked him what would allow him to go full time with Koul Cakes and give up his current job and he said this.

I have bunch of ideas floating around in my head for my business that I think are great opportunities but getting my finances right and not having to rely on the steady income from my full-time job is the first step to really grow my business.  Realistically, I can’t grow this side business and all these ideas that I have doing it part-time.

Andy Koulanjian

So, when do you take the plunge? When do you say “I’m going to do this full time because I want to be my own boss and pursue my passion?” There are many factors out there that could influence your decision but Andy’s response about getting his finances in order is the biggest hurdle for many entrepreneurs and want-to-be small business owners. It’s the number one motivating factor that makes you take the plunge or stay on dry land. So how do we get our finances in order? How do we know if the numbers make sense?

A simple financial planning tool such as those available through Find Start Grow’s Start module, can help you go through the process of thinking about your startup costs and revenue projections including when you’ll break even.  In addition, if you’re working at a full-time job, you can factor in your current income and how much you think you’ll need to either save up, give up, or borrow to start your business full-time.  When building your financial plan, it’s good to be optimistic, but in this case, it might be better to be pessimistic about your projections so that you’re not getting ahead of yourself.  Mike Tyson, the famous boxer once said “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” 

In terms of how long you think it’ll take, be realistic when building your financial plan.  If there are real expenses that you can’t do without, be honest and don’t ignore it or fudge around it.  Budgeting for eating instant ramen noodles every day for the next 6 months to get your numbers to look good and think that it’s going to be okay with your family, spouse, partner, etc.  isn’t going to fly.  Trust me, tried it and I’ve spectacularly failed.

Don’t be afraid to take the plunge when it comes to running your side gig as a full-time business.  Build your financial plan to see what you think will be required and how long it will take.  Being objective will go a long way to helping you understand when you can take the plunge and prepare you for the next step towards starting your own business.

Until our next story, I encourage you to Find your passion, Start your journey, and Grow your dream.

Dave

Dave

Founder & CEO

Entrepreneur, father, golfer, little league baseball coach, and a landlocked surfer.

I would like to thank Andy for sharing with us his entrepreneurial story.   You can check out more of Andy’s amazing work on Facebook and Instagram.

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