10 Things I Did Before I Left My 9-5

One of the most common questions I get asked is how I took the leap from my 9-5 into being a full-time entrepreneur. It feels like there a million different things to consider (and a million different ways to talk yourself out of it) but I’m going to break down exactly what I recommend doing before handing in your notice to ensure you’ve set yourself up for success as a business owner.

  • Pay off your debt and put money in savings.

This can look different for everyone as far as HOW MUCH, but for me, as a single entrepreneur who has to handle all the bills on her own, I calculated exactly how much living expenses would be for six months and put that back in savings. It took me about six months of working my job in the corporate world along with my side hustle to pay off my credit card debt, be able to save those living expenses, and then put in my notice. Don’t do anything that is going to put you in bad financial shape. With that being said, also understand it is important to invest in yourself and show the universe you are serious- just do it after you take time to pay your debts.

  • Work through your worst case scenario.

This is never fun, but so important. Go into this knowing you’re going to fail. You’ll fail a lot, in many different ways. Some will be huge failures, some will be way smaller. Things won’t always be perfect and not everyday will be good. Understand that and work through those failures proactively so you know how to handle things. I asked myself “What will happen if I fail at this?” It wasn’t fun. I knew I’d be embarrassed, I knew I’d feel bad, but I knew that even if I didn’t get clients for a few months or even if I did have to dig into my emergency savings account to pay rent, I would get right back on my feet. When you work through your worst case scenario, usually you realize it isn’t so bad after all.

  • Understand the difference between a calculated risk and a faith-based risk.

With this, I was somewhere in the middle. I had a really good client stream, money in my savings, but also had recently broke off an engagement and was just now starting to handle bills on my own. I wasn’t booked out for months when I first started, but I had to trust that I would be. I raised my frequency and showed the universe I was serious about this, and then worked overtime to make sure I wouldn’t fail.

Make sure you’ve set yourself up for success, but also understand that there will never be a “perfect time.” If we all waited for everything in our life to be going super smooth, for money to be flowing in like crazy, none of us would ever do it. There will always be SOMETHING- the dog will get sick, you will get sick, your heat will stop working, your car will need new tires, your boyfriend will break-up with you. Right before we take this big leap the universe tests us to just see how serious we are. It is so important to continue to trust that it will work out and this is part of the process.

I recommend everyone takes the leap right in the middle, where I was. At the point where you’re serious, you’ve done all the right things to set yourself up to succeed, and trust you will. “Take the leap and the net will appear.”

  • Grow your network.

This is so, so important. Surround yourself with other like-minded entrepreneurs who truly understand your struggles. These people will be there to celebrate the successes and the failures with you. It is so important to put yourself out there. It’s scary, but it’s key. Start to grow your network and become close to people who are just like you in this aspect.

  • Find someone to hold you accountable.

For me, this was hiring a business coach. This held me accountable because I spent a pretty chunk of change before I had even made $1 in my business. I knew I couldn’t waste my time, her time, or more importantly- my money. It was incredible for accountability. It made me take myself seriously, figure out exactly what I wanted to do, and exactly how I could get that money I had just spent back (and fast!) Having someone hold you to doing the things you don’t really want to do (put yourself out there, write your content, finish your website, etc.) is invaluable.

  • Invest in something to show yourself and the universe you’re serious.

This could be a mentor, business coaching, branding, a website, a new work-space, a new computer- but find something important to invest in because once you do, it is accountability in itself. It puts you in a position to succeed because you are moving forward and taking yourself seriously. If you don’t invest in your own business, why do you expect anyone else to invest in your business?

  • Do some work for free.

No one really WANTS to do work for free, but trust me, it is so important to do it. It helps you practice your skill, see the results you yield (that you can later share with clients), do market research and see what people really need, and build your testimonials/ portfolio. Go into this being really clear on what you are willing to give and what you expect in return. Then ask these people for referrals, and feedback. How was their experience with you? What else would they love help with in their business? The people I did work for free for ended up all becoming paying clients of mine, because I became their go-to girl for all branding/ digital marketing/ web design needs, and they already knew my value to their business, the quality of my services, the experience they’d get, and they trusted me!

  • Start to build your online presence.

Incase you needed a sign to start your Instagram and Facebook today- take this as one! It is so important to start early to build your online presence as a service-based business. Find people to follow, figure out how you want to curate and plan your feed. There are a million things you want to figure out to make it perfect, but remember, progress is more important than perfection. When you start to put yourself out there online, you have hundreds/ thousands of people holding you accountable instead of just a few. It’s accountability in itself to get on, engage, publish, and create!

  • Indulge yourself in free resources.

I listened to podcasts and read books that inspired me daily. This helped tremendously in believing that I could actually do it. There are SO many free resources out there to help you learn all you need to know about being an entrepreneur. Sign-up for email lists, listen to podcasts during your commute, search on Pinterest for business tips. Take advantage of all the things out there that will help you get from point A to B faster. Some of my favorite (free and not) resources I used while in my transition to take the leap from my corporate job are:

  • She Means Business by Carrie Green (Book)

  • You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero (Book)

  • You Are A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero (Book)

  • The Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher (Podcast)

  • NPR How I Built This (Podcast)

  • Take it one day at a time.

This is definitely the final and most important thing that I recommend. No one has an idea then has it all together the next day. Do one thing a day for your new business and that adds up to 365 things a year. Big or small. Take the big things you need to do and break them down into smaller tasks. Instead of thinking “I need to create a website, start blogging, become an LLC, find networking events, and find clients.” Think: “Today I am going to look up information on creating a website. Tomorrow I will ask someone if they have any recommendations on who can help me create one. The next day, I will write an about me page. Then, I will start on my packages.” Take it one day at a time and the progress you create will be incredible. I truly mean that.

What things did you do to set yourself up for success before taking the leap? If you haven’t yet, what all is stopping you? I’d love to hear where you are at in the entrepreneurship journey in the comments!

Ready to get your first clients and ditch your day job?

Read the blog: 5 Ways to Get Your First Paying Client.