March 30 is a super special day for me - it marks four years since my wedding day and one year since I quit my day job for good! So, the best day of my life for two reasons ;)
My dream has always been to build my own business - I come from a very long line of entrepreneurs, and the be-your-own-boss spirit runs in my blood. Growing up, my dad owned his own business and had to work a ton, but he was ALWAYS able to be home after school to cook us dinner from scratch, help us with our homework, and take off in the middle of the day to see our school plays or coach Little League. To me, owning your own business has always meant working hard on something you love while having the freedom to enjoy your life.
That being said, when I was working at my day job, I was ensconced in the security of that sweet, sweet direct deposit money hitting my checking account every two weeks. I thought that I could never leave that financial security and make it on my own, even though I was really unhappy.
Me on payday when that direct deposit money hit
When I finally took the leap to leave my day job, I was equal parts elated and terrified. I didn't want to jump into another office job, stuck at my desk for forty hours a week, having to ask permission to take time off when I was sick or needed a vacation. So I dove in headfirst, and decided that if I was going to make it after all, it might as well be now.
Mary Tyler Moore, inspiring us to make it after all since the 70's!
So, my dear friends, I wanted to share with you my top tips of what to do before you quit your day job.
If you find yourself missing out on time with your kids, having to commute in bad weather because the office is open for some stupid reason, going to work sick because you don't have enough PTO days, dealing with jerks in the workplace, hitting your glass ceiling, or whatever it is that makes your job suck, I want you to know that I get it. Most of my creative entrepreneur friends get it, too. We've all been there. And we've all gotten out.
Quitting your day job to start your own business is hard, but it's not impossible.
So what do you do in order to get ready to quit? How do you start?
1. SAVE UP AS MUCH MONEY AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE
This is my number one tip. If you ignore everything else in this blog post, listen to me on this one. I saw the writing on the wall with my job for many months, so I'd been socking away half my paycheck in savings for a long time. Without this cushion of money to land on, I never would have been able to quit when I did. The more money you save up, the better. Sacrifice Starbucks and Target runs to put more money in your emergency account. It'll be worth it! You can use this money for startup costs for your business and to live off of until your biz gets off the ground.
2. CHANGE YOUR MONEY MINDSET
This was super hard for me. To go from having a few thousand bucks magically appear in my bank account twice a month to having to hustle for every penny I made was a big adjustment. I had to untether myself from the mentality that my yearly salary was equal to my worth as a human being. Most businesses take a few years to turn a profit, and when you're struggling in the beginning stages, it's easy to feel like a failure. Changing your money mindset is essential to keeping your sanity. You are not your salary. You're a smart, worthy, capable person who's building a business - if you don't make six figures your first year, don't beat yourself up.
Leslie Knope is here to give you a pep talk!
3. SCHEDULE SOME TIME OFF
If you're smart and followed my advice on #1, you'll have a little bit of a financial cushion to take some time off. If you've been working at a high-stress job, you're gonna need a break once you quit. Here's a secret: it can take a long time for the anxiety from a stressful workplace to go away. For me, it took nearly three months. I woke up one morning in June and thought, "Oh. This is what it's like to be a normal person." It was my first day without anxiety in YEARS. Now, I didn't take three months off, but I did take it slower than usual for a few weeks. I enjoyed the beautiful springtime weather, my dog, and my husband. I slept past 5 AM for the first time in years. I spent afternoons at the beach. Self-care is super important, and when you've relaxed for a little while, your head is clearer to make important decisions about your new business.
Me the second after my two week notice was up
4. GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER
OK, so now you're relaxed, excited, and ready to go. WTF do you do next? My advice is to meet with an accountant and a lawyer. Incorporate your business, and get all those tax and legal things settled. Buy your domain name. Start thinking about investing in branding. Get all the business stuff out of the way so that you can focus on what you do best!
5. FIND A COMMUNITY
Oh man, I went to SO MANY bad networking events when I first started my business. Imagine a bar full of creepy, sleazy insurance salesmen. Or a hotel conference room full of middle-aged women trying to push their Shakeology/LulaRoe/Rodan & Fields crap on you, not taking "no" for an answer. SO BAD.
Luckily, a friend invited me to our local chapter of the Rising Tide Society, and I found my tribe. I've found so many amazing friends and fellow creative entrepreneurs with whom I can share my wins and struggles as my business grows. Skip the creepy networking groups and check out your local Rising Tide Society chapter! There's also lots of good Facebook groups that are more about making good biz friends and less about the pushy sell - try Think Creative Collective or Savvy Business Owners.
My Fierce & Fearless Biz Owner series, where creative entrepreneurs talk about their journey to owning their own business.
Get Bullish - I used to binge-read Jen's Q&A articles during my commute. Her advice really helped give me the confidence to go out on my own.
And if you ever have any questions, just email me. I wish I'd had someone in a similar situation to chat with when I started my biz, and I'm so happy to help out other aspiring boss babes do their thing.