April 30, 2013 will be my last day at the accounting job I’ve had for over ten years. The closer quitting time gets, the more excited about the next chapter I become.
That’s not to say I’m not scared of the unknown, but since I’ve taken some smart steps to prepare, I’m a lot less fearful — and stressed out. Oddly enough that’s something I never expected.
As an A-type personality I like things to be in order and all tied up in a neat little package. Of course life isn’t like that — at all. Life is messy, unpredictable and full of the unknown. The best we can do is create a plan, prepare for any setbacks and keep moving forward.
If you’re thinking of quitting your job, becoming your own boss, traveling the world or following whatever ambitions you have, here are eight steps to take before making that leap.
1. Hire a Business Coach
I’ve always been skeptical of hiring a coach — whether it’s a business coach, life coach or any other type. But at the beginning of 2013 I needed a change, and felt like I couldn’t catapult my business alone.
So I reached out to Steph Gordon, and asked if she’d work with me and my “side-hustle”. Little did I know, towards the end of our sessions my side-hustle would turn into a full-fledged freelance business, and I’d be quitting my day job.
There’s no way I could accomplish all this — plus all the other things I’ve been working on — without her help, encouragement and perspective. After my experience I HIGHLY recommend finding a coach to help you through your next big career decision.
2. Finalize Your Decision
Do you want to only work part-time, one day a week, as a contractor, or do you want to quit your job altogether?
These are questions I asked myself to make sure I knew what my desires truly were. In the beginning I didn’t want to quit my job entirely, but my boss wasn’t flexible or understanding so it made my situation very difficult.
Eventually it came down to an ultimatum (which I’m pretty sure they didn’t think I would take), and were surprised that I said I had to quit. But now that I’ve come to the end of it all, I’m actually thankful they put me under pressure to finally make that decision.
3. Launch Your Own Product or Service
I know a lot of online entrepreneurs suggest this, but I can honestly say it will make your transition to being your own boss that much easier. If you need extra money in any given month, you can promote your own product or service, to make up for any gap in income.
You’ll have more control over what you earn and how you earn it. That’s not something you can say when you have to answer to clients.
In less than 4 months, I created and launched a group called The Careful Cents Club. Not only does it give me a little bit of recurring income, I’ve made some valuable connections in the event I need to reach out to my network for support, or a new gig. And the street goes both ways for all the members too, so it’s a win-win!
4. Reach Out to Your Network
Once you officially decide to quit your job and strike out on your own, one of the smartest things you can do is reach out to your current network of friends, colleagues and existing clients. Let them know that you’re quitting soon, that you’ll have some more time on your hands and are trying to grow your business.
How will your network keep an eye out for awesome opportunities for you, if you don’t let them know you’re looking? This is a mistake a lot of business owners make — they don’t utilize their current network.
Don’t forget to reach out and follow-up with existing clients too! Once I did this, I increased my workload (and pay) for several clients while connecting with some very influential people.
5. Streamline Your Expenses and Test it Out
I think this step is something everyone starts freaking out about (I know I did!). How are you going to cover all your expenses? Can you really live on the income you make from starting your own business?
The only way to really know is to readjust your budget (or create one if you haven’t) and start living on the income you currently make from freelancing. Cut your expenses back as much as possible and start saving whatever’s left to help make your leap smoother.
You’ll notice that it will be a difficult at first, as you and your bank account adjust, but after a few months, it will be much easier. Then once your last of work comes, you’ll be more than prepared to become your own (successful) boss!
6. Create a Freelance Schedule
There’s very little chance you’ll be able to survive as a solopreneur if you don’t set a schedule and put it into practice.
Take it from my friend Andrea, who runs her own hosting and design business out of her home office. Often times when she tells her friends or family she’s working that day, they take that to mean they can come over anytime, drop off their kids for her to babysit and basically use her time as they please.
These days most people don’t understand — or won’t respect — your time when you’re “working at home”. So enforce yourself to live with a schedule and enforce others to answer to your calendar.
Don’t forget to schedule in time for YOU. My business coach and I call this “self-care” time. You can’t — and shouldn’t — work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Why else would you quit so you can have more free time?
Put yourself and your health, on top of the priority list. This will keep you sane and allow you to actually make money!
7. Don’t Cheat Yourself
This is definitely the most difficult step out of all the rest — at least was for me. Once I put these tips into action and had my awesome plan of being my own boss in motion, I wanted to instantly check-out of my day job.
But that would not only be unfair to my boss, but to myself too. After putting in over a decade of hard work, dedication and discipline, I knew I needed to finish strong!
Don’t cheat yourself out of the last few days at your job. Instead, use it as a testing period, to help guide you as you experiment with living on less income, enforcing a freelance schedule and taking time for self-care.
If you can use your last few days, or months, as a testing ground, then when the last at your job hits, you’ll be able to take the leap smooth and seamlessly — and set yourself up to succeed!
Did you recently quit your job? Have you taken to the leap to being your own boss? Share another step you took to help you succeed!