5 rules for making the leap to full-time entrepreneur

Some people simply can’t leave a relationship–no matter how bad it is–until they’re certain they have the next one locked down. This leads to sometimes months of overlap, “should I or shouldn’t I?” internal debates, and tiptoeing over blurry lines. That’s time when they are not giving 100 percent to anyone (including themselves).

The same can be true of entrepreneurs, says inc. Yes, it’s scary to let go of your other sources of income and dive headfirst into startup territory. But you have to take risks if you want to fly.

There’s a reason the sharks on Shark Tank often ask entrepreneurs if they have another job. Some people who appear on the show respond with a hearty, “Yes!” thinking it shows dedication and hard work. That’s not what investors want to see. They want you to see you are fully committed to your project–because if you’re not, why should anyone else be?

Here are a few rules for making the leap to full-time entrepreneur for good.

1. Build a Nest Egg
It shouldn’t take the possibility of launching a startup to get you into emergency fund savings mode. However, as an entrepreneur, those emergency days are much more likely to happen. Save up at least six months worth of living costs–and preferably enough to last more than a year. Not only will this give you a buffer, it’ll teach you how to scrimp, save, and get creative with frugality. All of these are important tools for an entrepreneur because finances for a startup are often slim. I’ve done this over the past year to save up for the free hosting company that I’m starting. This helps my wife to have cash in the bank to pay the bills until I start making my millions.

2. Give Yourself an Aggressive Timeline
The moment you start saving, give yourself an “all in or out” timeline of no more than 18 months. If you can’t save at least six months’ worth of finances in 18 months, you have bigger problems than drafting a business plan. Either you need to work on your money management before becoming a full-time entrepreneur, or your heart’s not in it. Either way, it’s a red flag.

3. Cut All Job Ties
Is your company offering you telecommuting options, flex-time, or a part-time gig? Maybe you’re thinking about picking up a weekend job in retail and going back to your roots. A part-time job can be just as demanding and stressful as a full-time job. It’s a crutch for an entrepreneur and will distract you from your endeavors. You don’t need it. You should be devoting every minute of your available time to your startup.

4. Don’t Expect Support from Everyone
Even if they don’t blatantly say it, not everyone in your circle will be supportive. Expect questions like, “Shouldn’t you at least be working part-time?”, “What are you going to do if you don’t make money?” or “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Whether these questions and concerns come from a genuine place or not, it doesn’t matter. Grow a thick skin (a must for entrepreneurs) and surround yourself with truly supportive people.

5. Spend those 18 Months Drafting Your Business Plan
The business plan is the most important pillar for an entrepreneur. It’s where you work out worst-case scenarios, plan for speed bumps before you meet them, and where you begin researching networking and investor options. You don’t want to turn in your two-week notice without a solid draft in place.

A real entrepreneur is at it full-time–and much more than 40 hours per week. If you’re only in it half-time, you’ll only produce 50 percent of the results. Don’t shortchange yourself or your business.