5 Tips for Transitioning into Full-Time Entrepreneurship
About 8 months ago I embarked on the trip I had been dreaming of since I was an 8 year old girl. The movers had taken everything in my little San Francisco apartment, and my VW Vanagon was packed and loaded and ready to hit the road for a 6 week road trip across the States to my new home in Atlanta. I quit my full time job back in SF and once I landed in Atlanta, I planned to transition into freelancing full time as a graphic and web designer. Now, it’s been roughly 6 months since I started running my own gig, so I thought I’d share several tips I've learned throughout this process.
1. Start before you quit.
One of the most valuable things you can do is to start securing clients before you quit your full time job. Get your name out there, let people know your plans, and what your new business will be. Start working on your new business months before you plan to quit your job. Having a few loyal customers before you send in that two-week notice will make you feel much more secure once you are working for yourself.
2. Have a back up plan.
The rule of thumb is to typically have six months of savings before you quit your 9-5 to branch out on your own. Six months into this, I would agree with that statement. My savings account has been drained since I quit my full time job. You will have to put more money in than you get out in the beginning. There were times when I didn’t think I would make rent month. It’s stressful, but having a backup plan will ease some of that stress. Either have some savings, a job you can fall back onto, or even move back in with your parents until you can get your business off the ground.
3. Have a support system.
You need to have someone that supports you, even in massive failure. This person doesn’t have to own a business or even know what it is you actually do, but just make sure you have someone who wants you to pursue your dreams. It could be your mom, sister, college roommate, significant other, etc. There will be lots of ups and downs throughout this process and having someone to celebrate your victories with, vent to, cry to, etc., will help you keep your sanity.
P.S. If you are looking for other creatives and small business owners to support you, I highly recommend joining either Heather Crabtree’s Savvy Business Owners group, or The Rising Tide Society, which is filled with people who can relate to the ups and downs of running a small business.
4. Cut yourself some slack.
Running a business is hard. All the sudden you are the boss, the accountant, the marketing director, the temp, etc. Basically, you have to do it all. (That is, unless you are fortunate enough to hire out in the beginning phases, which I’d be willing to bet most of us aren’t.) Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t accomplish everything on your to-do list. You are going to feel like a failure and you are going to make mistakes. Probably more than you should. But don’t give up on yourself. You are doing something that is tough to do, so remember that, and be forgiving of yourself.
5. Make sure you are passionate about what you are about to do.
I hated the 9-5 since my first year out of college. But I stuck with it for 5 years, moving jobs, and telling myself it wasn’t the 9-5 I disliked, but my particular job. Several completely different jobs in I realized that working 9-5 for someone else for 40 years isn’t what I am passionate about. The mistake I made was letting my hatred for my job overshadow my passion for running my own business and finding my ideal clients. Before you tell your boss adíos, make sure you aren’t just starry-eyed for the idea of no boss to report to, staying in your pj’s all day, and taking vacation whenever you want, because, trust me, those things sound much nicer when you are sitting in a cubicle. In reality, to get started and succeed on your own you will be putting in much more than 40 hours a week, you will want to change out of your pj’s because you feel like a bum, and you probably won’t be able to afford that vacation you’ve been dreaming of. But, if you are passionate about what you are doing, that will shine through and you will thoroughly enjoy the hard work you are putting in.