Developing a dream takes imagination.

While every mature adult has goals, both external and internal, that they strive to meet. Not every adult is able to take their goals to the next step — to start dreaming about their own enterprise and imagining how they would pull it off and begin to manage it. Such vivid and ambitious imagination is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it gives its creator something to dream about during the inevitable lulls and plateaus in life. It’s becomes a tortured curse when the dream remains stillborn inside a person’s imagination, never taking real physical form; forever being just a ‘maybe’ or a ‘might-have-been.’

Developing a dream takes courage.

Most people are risk averse because they grow up being taught to ‘play it safe’ and ‘don’t rock the boat.’ For many folks that’s good advice and will take them far in their chosen careers. But for that minority that is already imagining big things for themselves from their dreams, taking a chance, accepting a dare, is an essential part of their personality. They either are, or force themselves to become, hardwired to go for broke at some point. Sometimes it’s circumstances that give them that final push, such as being laid off from work, and sometimes it’s just their internal alarm clock that goes off and tells them ‘it’s now or never.’

Developing a dream takes money.

To give life to a dream, its creator must bring it into physical existence. This may mean renting office space, office equipment, paying for wifi and stationary and wastebaskets, etc. Leasing a van and hiring staff — the monetary demands on the nascent entrepreneur seem never-ending, which is why so many dreamers feel forced to work a regular ‘daytime’ job in order to finance their startup plans. Others choose to work with banks for entrepreneurs.

Developing a dream takes time.

Facebook wasn’t built in a day. While entrepreneurs are usually not noted for infinite patience in getting their dreams off the ground, they are forced to learn to take their time or face disastrous consequences that can cripple or even kill their cherished dreams. When it comes to time, we are all on equal footing. There are twenty four hours in a day, whether you’re the King of Norway, a housewife, or a postal worker just two years away from retirement. What often makes the difference between a dream deferred and a dream accomplished is how we spend our chronological capital. Time management is crucial to entrepreneur. But as noted above, sometimes there just isn’t going to be much time because of other time commitments like a full-time job that keeps the wolf from the door.

This brings us to the crux of the matter. When is the right time to abandon a safe job in order to devote full time to that dream/enterprise that fills your heart and soul with fire? What are the benchmarks that you should consider before making this important, potentially life-changing decision? Based on the experience of many already successful entrepreneurs, here’s a taste of what you need to consider before launching out completely on your own:

Do a reality check on your current salary.

 What this means is that the amount you’re paid by a regular job includes perks that have to be taken into consideration before making that move to total independence. These perks add up to a third more to your salary than the actual money in your paycheck. They include things like health insurance coverage and 402(K) matching deposits; expense accounts for travel, lodging, and food; tuition reimbursement; and, most importantly, Social Security taxes that your employer contributes to. When you’re on your own, you have to arrange to pay your own self employment taxes every quarter — and you do not want to get behind in paying Uncle Sam. He’s a mean creditor, and has no scruples about attaching bank accounts and putting a lien on your home if you fall behind. So do the math; figure out just how much you’re really going to lose and how much you’re really going to have to make, in order to make what you’re already making at your regular daytime job. If you don’t have the financing to meet that level, then maybe you better start chanting “Not now, but later” to yourself during your daily commute.

 How much time will it really take to ramp up your own business?

The time spent getting your business up and running is basically time without any profit, and, in fact, should be considered as time when you’re losing income. If it takes just a few weeks to get your startup up and running, well and good. But if you’re looking at months of non-paid activity before your enterprise can start operating you’d better have a very good financial cushion ready. Or trusting, patient, investors who will stake you over a long period of time as you get things ramped up.