My palms were clammy, and my heart was pumping blood to my face so quickly that I was sure my cheeks were already beet red. It was a moment I’d been dreading—putting in my two weeks’ notice. I knew it would come as a shock, mostly because I really did love my job and the people I worked with. But deep down, the desire for freedom—to steer my own ship—won out. I knew that as long as that itch was there, I’d never be able to ignore it. I’d be living a lie.
Up until that point, the most surprising thing to me was that when I told close, trusted friends that I was going to quit my job, the response wasn’t “Are you crazy!?” like I was expecting. Instead, they said, “I wish I had the courage to do that.”
I’ll be honest. This wasn’t the first job I’ve left, but it was the best job I left.
It has always fascinated me how people resign themselves to clocking in and out every day. They waste time and energy convincing themselves that they need the job to survive, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Expenses inflate, and all of a sudden they’re trapped in a cycle they can’t break.
Don’t let that happen to you. There are some key things you can do to make sure your transition to self-employment, when you decide to make it, is as seamless as possible. This will probably be the toughest part, but if you can overcome these first five steps, you’ll have the heavy lifting behind you.
10 Tips for Leaving Your 9-5 and Adjusting to Life as an Entrepreneur
Keep your expenses low.
Easier said than done, but this is what your self-employment success will hinge on. Lower expenses mean greater flexibility. Keep the business of YOU lean, and reduce your overhead costs as much as possible. This means having a roommate (or two), not giving in to your shopping habit, and watching every discretionary expense. For some, this might be too much, and I’m not saying you can’t have little splurges every now and then. But if you are reliant on your full paycheck to fuel your lifestyle, you will never get your freedom.
Establish a parachute fund.
Trust me, decisions are so much easier when you have a stash of cash handy. Personally, I have about 3-6 months’ worth of expenses, which is lean for some, but as a single person with no dependents and a steady stream of rental/dividend income, it’s plenty. I typically reinvest most of my rental/dividend income, but I know that if I have higher than average expenses one month, I could just re-divert those dividends for a month to knock out the unexpected expense and be OK. I’ve never had to do this though—it’s definitely for a true emergency, which happens rarely.
Cultivate other opportunities and side hustles.
I left my job mainly because I had so much going on outside of work that I felt the job was getting in my way. That is the “problem” you want to have, but it’s not going to happen unless you build up other potential streams of income. I’ve invested in rental properties, built up a real estate brokerage business, done freelance writing/social media work, run my own personal finance blog, and flipped textbooks—and I’m still getting pitched different job opportunities without me even asking.
Key to this is always hustling and being open to what comes your way. Just like with money, your hustle will have a compound effect over time. When I officially left my job, I had three more people approach me about working with them. It truly is a snowball, and every skill you add makes the snowball even bigger.
Remember that you’re not alone.
Don’t forget that everyone, at one point or another, has been where you are. Some of them wish to be where you are. You probably expect people to tell you that you’re crazy, like I expected. That’s natural, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at…