Millions of people around the world spend many hours each week dreaming about how it would feel to hand in their resignation at work and walk away to do their own thing. However, while it’s a lovely idea to think about, the reality can be quite different from the dream and end up causing a huge amount of stress and potential loss of money.

That’s why it is incredibly important to think through your entrepreneurial leanings very carefully before you pull the plug on your current role. This will help you to not only ensure that you launch a business the right way but that you also give yourself the best chance of long-term success and fulfillment. If you’re keen to become an entrepreneur one day, read on for some key steps you should take first.

Learn on the Job and Build a Network of Contacts

One of the best ways to ensure that your business is a success when you launch it is to learn as much as you can about your industry before you branch out on your own. If you don’t already work in the industry that you’re thinking of starting a business in, then it is definitely worthwhile spending some time working in a variety of jobs where you can learn the “lay of the land.” Try to get roles in companies that are at the top of the industry, and then learn something new every day about what is currently being done in the sector, what consumers are looking for, what gaps there might be in the market and more.

It also pays to use a company like Employment BOOST to help you find work in roles where you can build up relevant industry contacts. Creating a network of people that you can use as suppliers, staff members, contractors, and even customers when you begin your new venture will certainly help you to start more easily, quickly, and successfully.

Educate Yourself

Similarly, it is also very important to build up your level of business knowledge and skills through education. You will put yourself in a stronger position to start a successful organization if you educate yourself on a wide variety of relevant topics such as sales, marketing, finance, human resources, administration, customer service and the like.

There are various ways that you can go about doing this. You may choose, for example, to pursue an MBA degree or other relevant course at a university or other facility that will give you a good all-round knowledge. You might also want to study a specific area that is particularly necessary for the type of business you plan to launch.

In addition, don’t forget that there are plenty of books, blogs, magazines, and workshops around that you can immerse yourself in to learn about business areas. You might also like to join some relevant industry organizations. Remember: every piece of information you learn will help you to start a venture effectively and leanly, and can make a world of difference when it comes to how successful you are over the long term.

Do Your Research

Lastly, don’t quit your job until you have spent a considerable amount of time on research first. While this should cover many different areas, in particular make sure you investigate your target market and who your competitors will be.

Based on what you are thinking of selling, when it comes to customers, you need to know:

  • Who the best people or businesses will be to target (i.e. your ideal clients)
  • If there is actually demand for your proposed offerings
  • How and when customers in your target market shop
  • How much they spend on average
  • How often they buy
  • If they are looking for any particular products or services not currently offered
  • What their “pain points” are that you could resolve

As for your competitors, examine who is currently operating in the market, what it is they sell, how they sell it, what they charge, and what their customer experience is like. Remember to take a look at not just direct competitors in your local area but also those across the country—and even the world, if you plan to sell something that could be shipped to customers.

When conducting research, you also need to find out if there are any burgeoning areas in your industry that could be worthwhile entering or sectors in which the market is contracting and that are best avoided as a result.

You can conduct research on the Internet, through libraries, via industry associations and business schools, by contacting the U.S. Census Bureau, and even in person via surveys and focus groups. All of the information you find out will be beneficial in helping you to see any gaps in the market that you could fill and discover new ways of providing goods or services that will give you a competitive edge to draw in customers quickly.

Jackie Roberson is a content coordinator and contributor who creates quality articles for topics like technology, home life, and education. She studied business management and is continually building positive relationships with other publishers and the Internet community.