So you’re thinking about quitting your 9-5 job to take your side hustle full-time! Congratulations! It’s such an exciting feeling to finally be able to write up that resignation letter and give your two-weeks notice.
The decision to go full-time is a very big step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It takes work, planning, and intentionality. It’s important to make sure you’re really really ready to dive into full-time entrepreneurship!
There are a few key things you need to have clarity and confidence in before saying goodbye to that windowless desk job. Today, I’m going to walk you through the five steps you need to take before you can hand in that resignation letter!
My Dream Was A Long Time Coming
You may be asking yourself, Kelly, what do you know about going full-time? Well, I used to be right where you are now. Dreaming, scheming, and trying to achieve that ultimate goal.
For seven years, I worked three full time jobs. I was a Personnel Assistant working in government by day, a wedding and portrait photographer by mornings/nights/weekends, and a mom of four young kiddos. For as long as I could remember, it had been my dream to take my photography business full time–but the “right” moment never seemed to arrive. For years, I’d tell myself: “This is it. This is the year I throw in the towel. Finally, I’m quitting my government job.” Like clockwork, the years came and went. Nothing changed.
One day, everything clicked. A season of anxiety and depression hung over me like a dark cloud. Through the fog of burnout and daily exhaustion, I was reminded of what really mattered most: My family, my marriage, and my mental health. The cracks were showing, and something had to give. And there it was–the moment I had waited years and years to recognize. Everything was pointing to my full time job getting the axe. I was determined to seize this opportunity and never let go. In order to make it happen, I knew I had to figure out my financial future before leaping into the unknown, away from the comfort and safety of my day job. And if a big move like that wasn’t nerve-racking enough, the world had plunged into a global pandemic. Suddenly, nobody’s future was certain. My growing mental checklist of “must-haves” was intimidating, but doable:
- Have an emergency fund with 6 months’ worth of living expenses saved for a rainy day.
- A funded owner’s compensation account to pay myself from
- No consumer debt!
- A fully booked out calendar
Together, my husband and I created a financial gameplan to make the transition as smooth as we possibly could. Turns out, working multiple jobs for years prior had set us up for success in a major way. My checklist was completed–and then some. Just as COVID-19 threw the world for a loop, I felt ready for anything. A pandemic couldn’t keep me from living my dreams, and I have my financial fitness to thank for that.
You, too, can achieve your dreams.. just like I did! Follow these five steps and you’ll take your side-hustle full-time in no time!
5 Steps To Going Full-Time In Your Side-Hustle
Step 1: Know Your Why
This is one of the most important steps that you need to have clarity and a clear answer to.. Many entrepreneurs miss this crucial step and it causes their business to fail. When you know exactly what it is you want from your business and have goals for your business you are on the right track to quitting that 9-5.
Have you sat down and written out “why” you want to take your business full-time? Is it because you want to be your own boss? You want to spend more time with your spouse/kids? It’ll help with your mental health? You want to be less busy? In the words of Anthony O’Neil, “your why should make you cry.” If you don’t have a strong enough reason as to why you want to go full-time, your business is less likely to make it!
My why? I wanted the opportunity to stay at home with my four young kids (at the time). I was so tired of working constantly and missing out on watching them grow up.
Take a moment, grab a pen + a piece of paper and write out your why. Write as much detail as you can!
Step 2: Create A Personal Budget
If you’ve never created a budget before now is the time to do so! If you are wanting to go full-time you need to have a good understanding of how much income you need to bring in to cover your personal costs.
When goal setting, you need to define exactly what you want to accomplish. Vague goals are not goals at all — they’re wishes. You need to get specific about what you want to accomplish.. otherwise nothing will ever happen! It’s great to say, “I want to go full-time,” but that doesn’t really lay out how you will make it happen. A more specific goal would be, “I need to earn $3,000 a month in order to go full-time.” Now that statement is clear, concrete, and a goal you can begin working toward!
When you create a personal budget it’s essentially telling your money where to go. If you’ve never created one before sit down and write out all the expenses you have every month. Pull out your bank statements from the past three months and do an average cost for things like groceries, gas, daycare, etc. Keep in mind, it generally takes a good three to four months to really hone in on your numbers!
Once you’ve tracked all your spending, take a look to see where you currently sit. Are there areas where you can trim or cut out? How deep can you sacrifice in your budget? Maybe you don’t actually need $3,000 a month, but only $2,000 in order to go full-time!
When I was working toward quitting my 9-5, my husband and I cut out everything we could from our budget. We got rid of Sling TV, started shopping at Aldi, made a weekly meal calendar, switched insurances for home, auto and life insurance, and got a cheaper phone plan! Reducing our expenses allowed me to go full-time quicker!
If you a new to budgeting, try out my favorite budgeting app –EveryDollar.com. It’s super easy to use and it connects directly with your bank!
Step 3: Create A Business Budget
Once you’ve figured out how much income you need to cover your personal expenses, now it’s time to figure out what you need to make to cover your business expenses!
Brainstorm and write out all of your fixed and variable expenses you’ll most likely incur in your business. Think through all of your business expenses down to the cost of coffee! Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Fixed expenses – These are your overhead/business costs. This includes anything you spend in business whether you have any paying clients or not. A few examples would be client management system like Honeybook, website fees, insurance, tax accountant, virtual assistant, online schedule, Quickbooks, Flodesk, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.
- Variable expenses/Job Specific – These are the expenses you incur *only* when you take on a client. This includes things like a welcome gift, a second photographer, film costs, or hotel costs. Everything from the coffee you buy at a consultation to the card you send after the service should be included
- One time purchases – These are one-off expenses that pop up now and again such as a new computer, lenses, camera body or ticket to a conference!
For a more detailed breakdown on how to create your business budget, hop over to my post 7 Tips To Creating A Business Budget
Step 4: Start Running Your Business Like A Business
It’s important to remember that you are running a business first and a ____ second. For me, I’m a business first and a photographer/educator second! Take a moment to write out your statement. Then, say it out loud. I’m a business first and a _____ second. Say it one more time!
In order to go full-time, you must know your worth, understand the value of your time, charge for your experience/expertise, and don’t give out freebies/discounts. Obviously, you can do that once in awhile depending on the scenario, but you get the idea!
As a business owner, you have an understanding of what tasks need to be completed, you have a plan in place to propel your business forward, you have clear business goals, and you’ll stop at nothing to see your business thrive!
When you are running your business like a business you’re one step closer to going full-time!
Step 5: Make A Plan
To make your dream happen, you’ll need to create a plan. Rather than jumping to full-time in one fell swoop, I recommend taking several strategic steps to get there! Here is what I would suggest:
- Start to pay yourself from your business. Even if you pay yourself a small amount once a month to begin with, slowly increase that amount as your business grows. This will start to flex that muscle and get you into the habit of giving yourself a paycheck.
- Utilize your full-time job to your advantage. With the income you earn from your side-hustle, use that to pay off all of your consumer debt (credit cards, student loans, vehicles, etc!). Less overhead = less risk! After your debt is gone, continue to use that extra income to build 3-6 months of expenses in an emergency fund. That way, you’ll have a little bit of a cushion to fall back on if needed!
- Implement the Profit First method into your business! Even though you are still working your full-time job, start to get in the routine of saving money for taxes, operating expenses, profit and owner’s compensation. When you finally make the leap to full-time, you’ll have a stash of money in an account to draw a salary from!
Feel Confident In Your Decision
Leaving the comfort of your 9 to 5 job and diving into full-time entrepreneurship is a big scary step. Once you have your why for your business in place, your finances are in order, you’re treating your business like a business, and you have a clear plan in place then you are officially on the right track to running a successful business!
Feel confident that you are making the right decision and start preparing that resignation letter!
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