If you told me in the fall of 2019 that a pandemic would cancel my wedding not once, but three times, that I wouldn’t be able to travel for months on end, let alone see family and leave my job at Nike, I would not have believed you.
If the last eighteen months have taught us anything, things can happen and change in a flash, so you better hold on for the ride. But while the pandemic is the backdrop to my story, there is so much more to it.
Aside from all the devastation the whole world endured the last year and a half, it welcomed opportunities too.
Maybe getting laid off meant they poured all their time into their art and took it full time or that working from home gave them the flexibility to start a side hustle. I was in the latter group.
Before the pandemic, I commuted to the office every day. Without that commute (and the social life during those first several months), I had more time on my hands than I ever did before. I’d done a few freelance projects here and there until that point, but it was not something I took seriously or ever thought I could turn into a full-time business.
With my newfound “free time,” I decided to take on some more projects on top of my corporate work to see if I could build up enough work to have a viable business.
Pretty soon, I realized what I felt had been missing all this time. During my time at Nike, I told athletes’ stories and helped launch new products through digital copy to reach millions of people. It was an unbelievable experience.
But I started to ask myself, “what’s the impact I’m trying to make here?” and “who am I trying to help?” I realized that I wanted to work with and help brands making the world a better place across industries.
Before I knew it, I was waking up early to work on projects before I had to clock in, sending proposals on my lunch break, and my evenings and my weekends quickly filled up to the brim with client work. After several (probably a few too many months) of juggling the two, I decided to make the jump to full-time entrepreneurship.
Now in the online space, there is a lot of pressure to “ditch your 9-5” but not a lot of transparency around it. It’s important to note what equipped me to make that jump, even if it was a little scary.
First off, I’ve been working in this industry for over a decade. Because of that, I had a great deal of experience and a significant portfolio behind me.
I also juggled my 9-5 and my copywriting business for several months before I quit, which gave me a safety net to fall back on.
I also have a super supportive husband, friends, and family who made it all feel possible and cheered me on along the peaks and troughs.
Because of all of that, my one-woman show grew to a team of five, and I’ve surpassed my corporate salary. Although it’s only been just under a year since taking the studio full-time, I’ve learned a great deal.
If you’re considering leaving your 9-5 to go all-in in your business, here are some tips that helped me along the way, as well as some important aspects I wish I knew when I started.
Outsource before you need to
While it might seem counterintuitive, the truth is that it takes time to get people implemented into your business. By the time you’re drowning in work and need help (like yesterday), it’s going to be several weeks, if not months, until you can find the right person and get them up to speed to your standard of work.
Systems will save you
It doesn’t have to be overly complicated but having clear systems in place is a total game-changer. Whether that’s your onboarding and offboarding process for clients or your review process for your team, your sanity will thank you.
Sounds counterintuitive, right? The truth is that saying no is one of the most valuable things you can do as a business owner. It’s scary when you no longer have that steady paycheck but if you can, saying no to clients that aren’t the right fit or opportunities you aren’t excited about frees up your time and energy to focus on the right things. Plus, you’ll do a better job when it’s the right fit, too!
Prepare before you jump
There’s a lot of privilege in the statement “Just quit your job!” It might not be as buzzy or glamorous, but preparing before you jump all in and leave your 9-5 can ease a lot of stress. There are always unknowns in entrepreneurship, but if you know you’ll be able to pay rent and all of your expenses for a few months (even if things get sticky!), I promise you’ll be able to be more focused on growing your business.
Lean on your support system
You will have great days, and you will have tough days and a lot in between. Through all of it, it helps to have people you can count on to cheer you on, be a shoulder to lean on or be a sounding board. For me, that’s my husband, team, mentors and coaches, family, and friends, many of which happen to be on this entrepreneurial journey, too.
There is no “right way” to become an entrepreneur. You don’t have to quit your job. You don’t have to hire a team. You don’t have to have a monetary goal. You don’t have to do things like other people. Whatever feels right to you is the way you should run your business.