Many entrepreneurs have been there…the steady paycheck, the company benefits, the 401K match program…and a deep, burning desire for more.
The once exciting buzz of your career has fizzled out and you are Googling to figure out how to quit your job to make the leap and start your own business.
I can remember my leap like it was yesterday.
I launched my fledgling business in the late night nooks and crannies after my 6-month old was in bed and my husband was working the night shift as a police officer. And after welcoming in my first paying client, I took a huge risk; I gave my notice at the job I had held for over a decade in collegiate athletics marketing.
I walked away from my successful career to start my business from scratch.
It swiftly created a sense of massive urgency, focus and an all-encompassing feeling of total freedom hedging on total panic.
I treated myself like my own human experiment, learning with each and every social media post, email, podcast and video. I became a student of my craft and left no room for anything other than the total belief that this was going to work.
Yet, the idea of walking away from what was guaranteed for something that had, literally, zero promise was going to work was one part exhilarating and another part terrifying.
The good news? The leap has been more than worth it.
And for anyone in this position, I want to help you stop the endless searching to focus on my top 6 tips to help you walk away from a guaranteed paycheck to go full-time in your business:
Here are my top 6 keys to consider before quitting your day job:
1. Know your numbers.
You cannot plan to launch a business and leave behind a guaranteed paycheck without knowing what your monthly financial profile looks like. I am talking about your income needs, the cost of insurance/benefits that may be displaced with the change and beyond.
Grab the spreadsheet and start crunching numbers to factor in your salary/job expenses (commute, etc.) and what it would look like in your household without it.
Knowing what it costs to live your life on a monthly basis will help you create a guideline for how much you realistically need to bring in to offset the paycheck you just walked away from.
It will also help to budget your money, so that when you have epic months, you are able to put aside some money for the months that may not be so fruitful.
2.Research your target audience and understand the demand.
Who are you going to help? How do you know they need what you are going to be selling? Make sure you have a relative understanding of the need for what it is you’re creating before you quit your job and open up shop.
Ask yourself a few key questions:
- What did former me really need to solve this problem?
- What would get the attention of former me?
- What would former me be willing to spend on solving this problem?
If you’re struggling with this exercise, ask others for their feedback, but be mindful of how related to the former version of you they really are. For example, if you are creating a service for busy moms, don’t ask the single guy down the hall for his feedback. Find your tribe, get curious and test out a few different strategies to see what sticks.
The more effectively you are able to reach and connect to your target audience, the more lucrative your offerings will become.
3.Create offerings/services that will actually hit those numbers.
Here is where the rubber hits the road. Is your business set up to be profitable with the things you’re actually selling? Do your services align with the value you are delivering and with the prices you are charging? Having a thorough understanding of what this translates to in terms of numbers is paramount.
When I launched my business, I realized I needed to welcome in 3-4 clients at a particular price point to match the monthly corporate salary I was walking away from. Having this benchmark made it easier to focus and set goals.
Create services that deliver immense value, and then price them accordingly.
Also, a little bit of advice: try not to apply your insecurities about money to your future customers. Your clients will come and be happy to pay you for your service when they see the incredible value you offer.
Rest easy in knowing this and put your focus on the fun and contribution you are creating with your sacred work in the world
4. Strategize Your Safety Net.
What is going to be the “soft place to land” should your business venture not come out of the gate nailing the benchmarks you set for yourself? What is going to help you keep your head above water if there is a need for it?
I told myself that if I had to get a job serving coffee or waitressing on weekends, I would totally do it. I was so committed to launching this business and realizing my vision, I gave myself permission to be creative in the process.
I also designed websites for 2 years in some of my packages because there was a huge demand for it and I had the skills, even though it wasn’t my favorite thing to offer.
The good news? I didn’t have to take myself up on the backup gig because the business took off. I believe that my willingness to do whatever it took played a huge role in helping make that possible.
5. Set a Schedule and follow it.
This one is a non-negotiable. When are you going to work? What days will you take appointments or client calls? What hours will you be available for meetings? It is paramount that you have a structured schedule to follow each week so you won’t find yourself floundering and getting frustrated
One of the most common setbacks in launching something new is not knowing what to do next.
It’s totally NORMAL that you will feel like you’re not sure what you should be doing next, so having a schedule to stick to and giving yourself windows of time for creation, marketing/strategy networking/connection and learning will make it easier to track what’s working and what isn’t.
6. Don’t Forget the Secret Sauce.
In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Courage, Dear Heart”
You’ll never know what you’re capable of if you never take the leap.
Some of the most important advice I’ve followed on my journey has been about taking chances such as launching the website before it felt ready, putting out a video tutorial that didn’t feel “perfect” and yes, quitting my day job and leaving the guaranteed paycheck before I was guaranteed a new one.
But trust me, once you follow the steps above, do your due diligence and lay the foundation for something amazing, your entire world could transform.
The sky’s the limit when you focus on your vision and take leaps of faith. In fact, (or actually, fun fact) 12 of the 18 wealthiest people in the United States…are entrepreneurs.(1) People just like me and you, who had a vision, and who stopped at nothing to achieve it.
In life and in business, we often have to take big risks to reap big rewards, and without the courage to take them, we may never see what’s possible.
Set yourself up for success by considering these 6 tips when it comes to quitting your day job and leaving a guaranteed paycheck behind, get your details nailed down and then, yes, you guessed it, have courage to take the leap.
Business Insider, 2017; The 18 Richest People in America