Starting a business is a major life and career transition. A lot of people associate entrepreneurs with being able to handle risk, which can be true! But, we’re kidding ourselves if we think that most entrepreneurs haven’t written pages and pages of business plans to support the strategic visions they’ve been cultivating since they realized they wanted to try branching out on their own.

I recently hosted a Q&A with entrepreneurs who have successfully transitioned from corporate roles. I got their insights on the strategies they used (or think they should have used) before they started their business. Here they are!

1. Create a business plan

Business plans are amazing ways to flesh out your ideas. Better yet, they’ll help lower your anxiety because you’ll find that the more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be that you know your stuff and that you’re ready for a career transition. Spending six weeks on a comprehensive plan will force you to really think about your ideas and inspire you to take them one step further. You may not follow your plan exactly, but the planning process itself will give you major insights into how you’re going to operate as an entrepreneur.

If you’ve never written one before, a business plan is essentially a description of your business, your brand, and your plan for profitability. To get a better idea of what a business plan should look like, head over to the Business Development Bank of Canada and download their free template!

2. Go out and talk to your target market.

A mistake that many entrepreneurs make is that they develop a plan for selling what they want to sell as opposed to listening to what the market wants. Your market research should be more than a Google search to identify trends in the industry. There’s nothing more helpful than seeking out your target market and sitting them down to get answers to your burning questions. To do this, think of these key areas:

  • Who is your target market(s)
  • Where can you find your target market(s)?
  • Do you know anyone in your target market(s) that you can talk to?

3. Set out your strategic vision.

Even though you may spend weeks or even months hammering out a detailed business plan, not everything will go according to plan. If you suddenly find out halfway through writing that your target market actually doesn’t want what you’re selling, it’s time to revise your value offering. A great way to make sure you don’t lose confidence when this happens is to develop a strategic vision for your life and business. Where do you see yourself in two years? Five years? Ten years? What can you do today to help you get a bit closer to that goal?

Remember, the Roman Empire wasn’t built overnight. The same goes for your business. To get the results you want, it could take years of strategic planning. For example, before I started my business, I strategically took on positions that I knew would bring me closer to my target market so that I could get the intel I needed to differentiate my value offering. I took opportunities at Google and Ivey Business School and held off on getting the ball rolling on Magnify Your Marketability. When I finally went out on my own, I felt more confident knowing that I understood the market and was ready to build my empire.

Key message: it’s always a good idea to plan months and even years ahead so that you can feel confident knowing that you have everything under control and you’re doing everything you can to set yourself up for success.

Are you thinking about making a career transition? Are you an entrepreneur with advice to give? Tell me about it in the comments section and check out the full Q&A video!


And a shout-out to the amazing entrepreneurs who came to share their stories:

Zoe Richards – Business Coach and bestselling author with a passion for helping clients create fulfilling, healthy businesses. Check out her website and special message to you by clicking here!

Sandra Kahale – Writer & Editor at OnWord Consulting, a consultancy that specializes in developing content that cuts through the clutter so that you can communicate with clarity.

Ryan Coelho – Personal Development Specialist who focuses on breaking down what success means. Check out his website to learn more about him!