Albert Opoku

How to Quit Your Job and Become an Entrepreneur

How to Quit Your Job and Become an Entrepreneur​

Find out in six steps how to move from employee to entrepreneur

Are you tired of working for someone else? Do you dream of being your own boss and working on your own terms? If so, then this book is for you.

In this book, I share my own personal journey from employee to entrepreneur. I provide practical advice and insights to help you on your entrepreneurial journey.


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Extracts from the book

I have been an entrepreneur for thirteen years, co-founding Hapaweb Solutions (www.hapaweb.com) and hapaSpace (www.hapaspace.com) in 2010 and 2023, respectively. Throughout these years, I have crossed paths with countless aspiring entrepreneurs, each with a gleam of possibility in their eyes and a longing to break free from the confines of their current jobs. Many have sought my guidance, asking the burning question, “How do I quit my job and become an entrepreneur?” This book, my dear reader, holds my answers.

I too once stood where you stand now—a dedicated employee with dreams reaching beyond the horizons of my workplace. I took that daring leap, and it forever changed the trajectory of my life. And now, my mission is to light your path and guide you through the labyrinth of doubts, uncertainties, and exhilarating triumphs that lie ahead.

In these pages, I invite you to join me on a voyage of self-discovery and empowerment. I share the practical steps I undertook to traverse the metamorphic bridge from employee to employer, the very bridge that beckons you as well.

I was raised in Kumasi, the second capital of Ghana and home to the biggest open market in West Africa. Growing up, every child in my neighbourhood had at least one parent who was an entrepreneur. My father was an architect but made most of his income from the two building material shops that he owned. My mother was a professional teacher but was also a garment trader.

From age ten, I worked at my father’s shops daily after school and during vacations. Right from an early age, I knew I would run my own business one day. Owning and running a business was already in my veins. When I had to select a course to pursue in high school, I chose to study business. And I studied business administration at the University of Ghana for my undergraduate degree.

During my four years at the University, I started several side hustles. I sold diskettes, CD and DVD ROMs, T-shirts, leather sandals and eggs. In my second year, I developed an interest in computer programming, and in my third year, I bought my first second-hand computer with my three years’ savings from my side hustles. Then I branched into IT-related business, including CD dubbing and SPPS data analytics. Through these businesses, I was earning more money than the monthly allowance my parent sent to me.

In the vast landscape of entrepreneurship literature, countless books, courses, and articles explore the theoretical knowledge essential for aspiring entrepreneurs. However, this book has a distinct focus—it is not a conventional business training manual. Instead, our journey step sides the realms of traditional entrepreneurial teachings, delving into the practical steps required before making the transformative leap from employee to entrepreneur.

While I won’t delve into the intricacies of ideation, business model canvases, business plans, or cash flow management, let me emphasise that this knowledge is crucial and should not be overlooked.  I will highly recommend that you enter an incubation programme with any business hub or enterprise support organisation close to you. If you are based in Ghana, you can find a list of innovation and business hubs on the website of the Ghana Hubs Network – https://www.ghanahubsnetwork.com/ .

Most of these hubs have incubation programmes that will enable you to learn the principles of validating a business idea, prototyping your product or service, developing a minimum viable product (MVP) and developing a go-to-market strategy. If you are outside Ghana but within Africa, check out the website of Afrilabs, the association of African hubs, for a hub in your country –  https://afrilabs.com/ .

Have you seen the tuition fee for a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)? An MBA course is usually one of the most expensive programmes offered by any university. If you are currently an employee then you have the opportunity to earn an MBA not only for free but you actually get paid as well. If you would see your place of work as a business school and not just as a place for earning a wage, you will realise that you have the opportunity to learn what it takes to make a business successful.

Any business that has grown beyond the founder(s) and has employed personnel – including yourself, has done some things right – even if it is a small business with under five employees. As an employee, you have the unique opportunity to learn what it takes to make a business a success or to fail at it. You are privy to invaluable insights into what it takes to steer a business towards success or failure. Each day, you have the chance to grasp the intricacies of customer behavior, product and service development, sales, finance, team performance, leadership, systems, processes, and much more.

While I learned a lot about entrepreneurship working at my father’s two building material schools, the five years that I spent working at the British Council were the years that I learnt the importance of business systems, and how to create and automate workflow. I learnt how to manage and lead teams, understand HR policies and the importance of cash flow management. From project management to report writing, from stakeholder engagement to effective networking, every facet of business became a canvas for learning.

In this chapter, and the last one, we cover the next step – how to get started! You need two kinds of capital: financial capital and human capital.

Let’s consider financial capital. Whatever your business idea would be, you would need funds to get it off the ground. You need funds to develop an Minimum Viable Product (MVP). And eventually, when you quit your job and end your reliable monthly source of income, you would need funds to cover your day-to-day living expenses.

As such, you need to build capital now. In my case, I did that in two ways. The last two years before I left the British Council and co-founded Hapaweb Solutions, I lived on half of my monthly salary and invested the other half in Treasury Bills. Was it easy to live on half of my salary? Of course, it wasn’t! It was very tough. I had to forgo comforts and embrace frugality. It meant that I continued to eat gari and bean (gobe) at least three times a week. Although I was Digital Service Manager, I could only afford to drive a small second-hand Opel Astra car.

At this point you are on course, you have set up the foundation for entering into the entrepreneurship phase of your life and you are saving and building financial and human capital. The later could take a couple of months or years. This is the time to find and build up a support network.

Entrepreneurship is hard, it is very hard. It is an exhilarating but challenging path, filled with both triumphs and tribulations. There are so many low days – of course there are great and exciting days as well, but trust me here, there will be plenty of days that you would want to give up and go back into the job market. You will be frustrated, you would work outrageous hours, your spirit will be crushed several times, some days you will cry. But you can handle them, they are all part of the exciting world of the entrepreneur.

To navigate through the lows and savor the highs, you’ll need a support network to ground, motivate, and encourage you during those low days. This is one of several reasons why having a co-founder is a good idea. You will have someone who is going through this journey with you, who understands the frustrations and challenges… oh and someone who you can celebrate and party with during the good days as well. A good co-founder can be the defining factor between success and failure in your entrepreneurial pursuit.

In this final chapter, we approach the pivotal moment of transitioning from an employee to an entrepreneur—a momentous decision that requires careful consideration and prudent planning. I intentionally used the word “Quitting” in the title of this chapter rather than the word “Quit”. The word “Quitting” is an indication of an ongoing process. Based on my experience and observation over the years, I would not advise that you quit your job and zoom straight into entrepreneurship. Take the proverbial baby steps. Give yourself a minimum of one year “quitting” period.

Before I left the British Council, I chose to transition from full-time to part-time employment. For a year, I divided my time, dedicating three days a week to the British Council and the remaining two days to Hapaweb Solutions. Looking back, if given a second opportunity, I would extend this part-time arrangement for at least another year before fully leaving my job.

Let me be very honest with you, starting a business is hard and it is even harder in Africa. As someone accustomed to receiving a monthly salary, the uncertainty of an entrepreneur’s income can be among the most difficult realities to confront. This is one other reason why you should have saved half your salary for at least two years prior to the start of your “quitting” phase.

About the Author

Jw | Author | Web Developer | husband | Father | Entrepreneur

Albert Yaw Opoku has extensive experience in entrepreneurship and technology: he has worked with not less than one hundred start-ups and multinational companies. An alumnus of the University of Ghana School of Business, Albert further has in his cap, international qualifications in Computer Science and in Technology Innovation from the University of Bath (UK) and Stanford University (USA), respectively; indeed, he is a man of many parts.

His passion for excellence has earned him some awards, such as becoming a Chevening scholar and a British Council Study UK Alumni Awards global winner for Social Impact. Albert is a two-time Ghanaian Professional Achievers Award nominee for the Global Young Professional of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Presently, Albert leads Hapaweb Solutions, a cloud, web and mobile application development company he co-founded and HapaSpace, an innovation hub. He is a proud father of twins, a die-hard Liverpool FC fan, an Asante Kotoko FC fan and a Scrabble addict.

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