Have you been secretly dreaming of starting your own business…?

Then you’re not alone. According to research, a staggering 56% of working women dream of having their own business, with most wanting to do so to achieve a better work-life balance and be able to fit work around their family.

But the reality for most people is that if you want to start your own business you’ll need to do so alongside your job…at least initially.

The transition period can be tricky because you’re constantly having to keep some many plates spinning at the same time.

It can put strain on your relationships, and leave you feeling constantly exhausted resulting in a drop in focus and productivity in both your job and business eventually leading to a complete burn out if you’re not careful.

And this is why you need to develop an exit strategy so you have an end in sight and a plan that’s going to help you get there.

The aim of the exit strategy is to get you to the point where you can hand in your notice in the quickest possible time. It’s not about trying to make sure everything is ‘perfect’ from the start. It’s about understanding what your priorities should be, and what are nice-to-haves that can wait until you have more time.

Your exit strategy should consist of four key steps…

1. Doing the groundwork and putting in place solid foundations

As tempting as it is to jump ahead so you can get to the more exciting parts of starting your business, taking the time to find the right business for you, making sure there is a market for what you want to sell and laying solid foundations on which to build your business will save you a lot of time, energy and money in the long run.

Understanding your Whys will help you to both get clear on your mission, and act as a motivator, even when things aren’t going to plan.

Defining what success means to you and having a clear business and life Vision will give you the information you need to build your business in a way that gives you the balance you desire and supports your dreams.

Narrowing down what you want to do and finding your niche will make it easier for you to stand out from the crowd and enable you to nail your messaging and create your product and service offers.

And getting a deep understanding of who your ideal customer is and what their needs, desires and expectations are will help you find them, put together the right content to attract and nurture them, put in place the information they need to make a buying decision, design your shopping experience according to their preferences, and create the products or services they want.

2. Getting to know your numbers

Knowing your numbers is crucial in order to help you make informed decisions and set realistic targets which will help you keep moving towards your goal.

On the one hand you need to understand the time you have available to focus on your business, how that time will be split between core business functions and creating or delivering your products or services, and the time it takes to create or deliver each product or service.

On the other, it’s all about the money. It’s about understanding the minimum amount of money you need to be earning consistently before you can make that leap, the direct costs associated with creating or delivering each product or service, the overhead costs involved in your business, and the money you need to invest in your business to help you achieve your goal in the quickest possible timescale.

3. Creating the right customer offers and pricing strategy to support your goal

Whilst creating customer offers is predominantly influenced by what your ideal customer wants or needs, you also need to consider what is going to be easiest for you to create or deliver during the transition period, and what will help you build the income level you need quickly within the limited time you have available.

Products or services with a higher price tag are often a good solution as you need to sell less, and therefore spend less time on the creation or delivery side of your business in order to achieve your minimum income level.

It will also make it easier to find enough customers given the relatively small pool of potential customers you’ll have when you are starting out.

There is often a reluctance to start with high end products and services because of a lack of confidence and the mistaken perception they’re something you work up to as you become experienced. However, the truth is it takes just as much effort to sell high end offers as it does those with a lower price tag so why not make life as easy as possible for yourself.

4. Developing a simple strategy for finding, attracting, selling to and serving customers

When you’re starting out in business it can be difficult to know what to do and where to focus your attention next. And there’s a tendency to overcomplicate things and to try to be everywhere.

However, I much prefer the principle of keeping things as simple as possible, especially when time is your most valuable commodity.

Trying to maintain a presence across every social media platform will put you under a lot of unnecessary pressure and make you a lot less effective. Instead focus on quality over quantity, creating a mix of content which will grab your ideal customers’ attention and help them to get to know, like and trust you.

Choosing a couple of platforms to focus your attention on will be a lot more manageable. Pick those which are both where your ideal customers hang out and where you feel most comfortable.

It’s also important for you to put in place everything your customers need to make it as easy as possible for them to buy from you, and to make sure their experience of interacting with your business is enjoyable and memorable for all the right reasons.