Starting a successful business is pretty risky. There's a lot that can (and usually does) go wrong, but it still remains the elusive American dream. If you're working for someone else right now, you probably don't want to tell your boss that you'll be quitting soon. It's a dumb idea, and it's also probably not a good move for your family either.
There's another way to approach this problem without putting your family's finances at risk. Companies usually don't like moonlighting, and for good reason. If an employee is "working on the side," then he's not fully committed to the company. The employer might not want to hand out lavish benefit packages, or put additional money into training, when an employee might just take the money and experience and leave.
Are Jobs and Bosses Evil?
The first thing to ask yourself is why you're leaving. Are you doing this because you hate your job? If so, maybe you can find another job that's a lot more fun for you. Are you starting your own business because you've run into what you think might be a "hot business opportunity?"
Companies like Amway used to pitch people on their business model by telling people that your J-O-B was evil and that you should focus on running your own business. That way, you could "be your own boss." That multi-level marketing company really lured in a lot of people.
Today, it's not Amway. It's a million different (and much smaller) MLM companies, business opportunity schemes that look like franchises, and people selling ebooks on the Internet. However, the message hasn't changed: "your job and your boss are evil." A lot of folks hate their job, and their boss but that doesn't mean the solution is to quit and start a business. Sometimes, staying on and working (or finding a place you find more tolerable) while you start up your new venture is important and can teach you some important lessons.
For example, if your current job is in accounting, then your job could teach you a lot about how to manage the finances of your new company. If you're in the marketing department, then you can gain some valuable insight into how marketing works for businesses. In fact, you can use your current job as a proxy for your new business's department.
Take marketing for example. Does your current company's marketing work? Does it generate sales for the company? If so, then you should consider modeling your new business's marketing department after your current company's marketing department.
Instead of viewing your job and boss as "evil," learn from your boss. Take the successful elements of your job and apply them to your new business.
The Dog and the Shadow
There's an old Aesop's Fable called "The Dog and the Shadow." As the story goes, there was a dog that had found a piece of meat and put it in his mouth. He decided to carry it home so that he could eat it in piece. However, on the way home, he crossed a running brook. As he walked across it, he looked down and saw his reflection in the water. Thinking it was another dog with another piece of meat, he decided he wanted that piece of meat also. So, he decided to challenge the "dog in the water" by barking at him. However, when the dog barked, he dropped his piece of meat into the brook and it was never seen again.
There are variations on this theme and one of them can best be stated as "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." In other words, it's good to be looking forward into the future, but don't sacrifice the present for it.
If you have a good job now, don't burn bridges or screw it up hoping that your new business venture will provide you with a better opportunity and more money. It might, but it might not. Right now, you know for a fact that you have a good job. You don't know how successful your new business will be. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't start a business. All it means is that you should exercise caution when making plans to leave.
The best way to avoid "barking at your own shadow for another piece of meat," is to not violate any company agreements you have with your current employer. If you need help starting your new business, but your boss forbids moonlighting, ask your family to help you. You can probably still get away with being the "idea person" and drive the business until it starts bringing in good revenue while your family manages the day-to-day tasks.
Building up savings that is worth at least 6 months worth of expenses is ideal. This way, if your business isn't generating any revenue immediately, you have something to live on. Some businesses aren't profitable for many years, but trying to save up several years worth of expenses might mean you never get off the ground. Six months gives you time to find venture capital, additional bank loans, or some other source of funding if you need it.
It also tells a lender that you're serious. If you're putting your own money into your business, you really do mean business. Saving money is also a good habit to get into even if you never leave your job. Savings protects your lifestyle, and allows you some financial "wiggle room" when you need it.
Take The Plunge
At some point, you have to take the plunge. You need to leave your job when your business can no longer be run on a part-time basis. When you leave, leave on good terms. Offer a two week notice to the company. They may or may not accept it. If you really want to score some brownie points, offer to find someone as a replacement. Better yet, go out and find a replacement and present him to your manager for a job interview.
This allows you to leave your company on the best terms possible. If you ever need to go back to work in the future, you have a much better chance of securing a job with a former employer if you left on good terms with him.