You've got your side hustle buzzing along nicely. You've spent hours daydreaming about life as an entrepreneur. You've even studied up on your industry and startup life. You're all set to pull the trigger and quit your day job, right?

Not so fast, argue a pair of experts. Both point out that there's one more essential bit of reflection you need to before before you venture out into freelancing or life as a founder. Don't dive into the waters of entrepreneurship, both insists, before you've asked yourself what exactly success means to you.

Why do you want to start this particular business?

First, on the Freelancers Union blog Sagan Morrow, recommends those considering setting up shop as full-time solopreneurs first ask themselves, "Why this business?" After all, the plan for a lifestyle business designed to help its owner live a certain way will look very different from a passion project started because of a deep-seated belief that the world needs a particular product or service.

Success for one person is changing the world. Success for another is traveling the world.

"Assessing your 'why' will help you to better understand your purpose behind starting your own business and your interest in offering this particular type of service within your business, which is then going to make it that much easier for you to put together your goals, vision, and business plan," writes Morrow.

Motivation... and money

Plus, better aligning your vision and your planning is great for motivation. "Understanding the reasons behind why you're doing this is also going to give you the motivational boost you need to keep going when things get tough," she adds. (And they will get tough at some point.)

But if getting clear on your goals before you begin is important for reducing long-term stress, it's even more important for short-term financial planning, insists entrepreneur (and Inc.com columnist) John Rampton on Medium recently. In the course of a long post outlining the many steps that stand between you and taking your side hustle full-time, Rampton ends up making much the same point as Morrow.

"Define your idea of success," he advises. "If things are starting to get busier, you need to sit down and determine how much money you need each month to quit your current job," he says. To do this, he recommends "you create and track financial landmarks, as well as a monthly budget."

Rampton's vision of "success" might be narrower than Morrow's but the two are thinking along the same lines, and their two tidbits of advice seem complimentary. Both are essentially saying -- start with why.

Whether your goals are exclusively monetary, as Rampton imagines, or involve broader concerns like lifestyle or servicing a particular type of client, as Morrow suggests, you need a roadmap to guide your efforts and measure your progress. The only way to start develop one is to set your destination clearly by first asking "Why?"

Why exactly do you want to start the particular business you're dreaming of?

Published on: Oct 10, 2016