Dropping everything, switching your career path, and going out on your own crosses everyone's mind sometimes. The question is: is it truly the thing that you should be doing or just a phase? When you know, you know.

Changing careers is inherently risky, and the transition from a stable position to an entrepreneurial venture is especially hazardous. For those determined to ditch the 9 to 5 and start a business in a field they're passionate about, there are ways to make the move more of a calculated risk than a blind leap.

Pattie Rydlun, a Boston-based career-transition expert, stresses crunching the numbers before embarking on your new path. "Passion doesn't make money," she says. "[You need to determine] if it is something you can monetize."

Once you have a goal in mind, research the market and potential competition and, most important, conduct a thorough break-even analysis. "The break-even analysis, if it's done right, will be very clear about when you can expect to make a profit," Rydlun says. "I would make that my determining factor [for when to leave my current job] and certainly not give any notice until I can see the realization of that break-even analysis."

A solid business plan, vetted by at least two people with industry experience, is key. It should be one that anyone can understand and that looks at the opportunities and the risks.

What are your strengths, what are your vulnerabilities and how can leverage your strengths and either delegate your vulnerabilities or find ways to increase those areas so you will be stronger in them?

Finally, be prepared to move on if things go south.

When taking the leap to open your own business you need to be able to persist and have resilience in dealing with the inevitable obstacles and barriers. They will appear, believe me. You also need to be able to objectively analyze the data coming in about your project and decide when enough is enough.

Have you already taken the leap, or are you just thinking about it? What's holding you back? If you have done this and succeeded, what were the main things that you attribute to that success? We want to hear from you...leave your comments below!

Sign up for FREE weekly small biz tips!

(All the tricks your competition DOESN'T want you to know about!)

Success! We're matched!