Source | www.fastcompany.com : BY GWEN MORAN

Whether the thought of attending one more meeting that should have been an email brings you to the brink of despair or you simply want the freedom of calling the shots in your work life, the catalysts for becoming self-employed are many. The good news is that you may be able to get there by the end of this calendar year.

“That’s absolutely enough time to start a business,” says small business expert Melinda F. Emerson, known as the Small Biz Lady, author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business that Works. The key to long-term success is to set yourself up for success right from the start, she adds. These seven steps can help you get there.

STEP 1: DEVELOP AN EXIT STRATEGY—FROM WHERE YOU ARE NOW

Think about your current situation. Have you learned everything or accumulated the experience that will possibly help you with your business? Have you met the contacts you’ll need or taken advantage of the training available to you that might help you? These are all critical considerations and leaving too soon could be to your detriment, says Diane Mulcahy, author of The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want, and lecturer at Babson College in Boston. She has her students participate in an exercise, thinking about what actions they would take if they knew they were getting laid off.

“Imagine that your company gave you a lot of notice and said, ‘In six months, we’re going to lay you off.’ What, professionally, would you do? What conferences would you attend? What colleagues would you reach out to? What projects experience would you try to get?” she says. These types of a questions, along with how you might change your personal situation and finances, are very similar to those you should ask if you’re considering self-employment. Get yourself in the best shape possible to be successful before you leave your job. That may include getting more training, socking away more money in savings, and reducing your personal overhead.

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