11 Lessons Learned from Leaving my Day Job

I have heard from some people out there who were inspired by my decision to leave my day job over nine months ago.  It was not an easy decision and it took a long time to prepare for.  It also was not completely based upon the success of B.B. Bellezza.   Although without the successes of my business, I would have had less options for leaving.

That being said, though, I want to let you all know that I have decided to take a steady part-time job.  Although I most definitely prefer to be my own boss, the idea of steady income - even on a part-time basis - appeals to me at the moment.  It's simply a necessity and a step I am taking for my family's sake.  Now, don't get me wrong here.  I actually really enjoy what I am doing for my part-time day job.  And it's really the perfect schedule for me while still keeping my business.  Maybe I'll even be better at time management, who knows?!

I wanted to leave those of you who dream to leave their day jobs with some tips that I have learned from this experience:

1.  Completely weigh out the pros and cons of leaving your day job.
Write them down
Think about them a lot
and then think some more
I personally was at the point at my job that I had to leave.  I was miserable and even started to hate anything that cost money because these things were the enemy that made me have to stay at my horrible job (i.e. gas, my apartment, food, etc...)  I'm not saying that you have to be unhappy to leave your job, just that I was and it made my decision easier.  Make sure you give it a lot of thought.

2.  Really take a hard look at your finances.  
Can you make it if you have a bad month in sales?  Do you have a support (partner, husband, etc.) or savings that you can and are willing to tap into if need be?  Or are you willing to give up some things in order to leave your job.

As my wise friend Kate says, "you don't need to spend as much money when you're happy."  It's true.  I don't go out to lunch every day to get away from my office like I did in my day job.  I gladly gave up fixing my car so I didn't have to go to my old day job.

*Don't forgot to factor in business expenses along with living expenses when considering this.

I thought I had this all figured out, but other circumstances happened along the way, too.  Consider all the things that can go wrong....can you handle these things?  (partner getting laid off, surprise expenses, etc.)

Can you get COBRA health insurance?  Or can you find insurance at a decent price and coverage?  Are you willing to take a risk without it, but then possibly end up with huge hospital bills.  (Note, I do not have children, so this was easier for me to figure out.)

3.  Stock up on craft, office and shipping supplies before leaving employment so I didn't have to think about those expenses for a while.

4.  You will be by yourself most of the time.

One thing I did miss about having a day job was my co-workers.  Having someone there to talk to at any time during the day.  On the other hand, I also like working by myself.  If you don't like to work by yourself, make sure you have a support system in place for those lonely days.  I spend a lot of time on twitter and facebook to ease this a little.

5.  You have to be completely confident and ready to show the world your stuff.  If you're not, be ready to fake it for awhile.  Eventually you will be confident.  The more you put yourself out there, the more people you may find who are negative about your products.  Don't worry, you'll have so many more people who love your things.  But, be prepared for both and don't let the negative bother you or you'll end up getting discouraged and depressed.

6.  Don't leave your job before testing out the market.  You have a great opportunity to try out your products on Etsy or craft shows before you go all in.

7.  If you do like your job, but you just need more time for your business, see if you can work part-time for awhile.  I'll heard advice to use your vacation time to do a trial run of having a full-time business.  I actually don't think you need to do that.  I think if you have already weighed out the pros and cons and are really serious about your business, you already know what you are going to be doing day-to-day.  I also think that you probably already are working at least 40 hours on your business in addition to your day job.  (I know I was putting in around 60 most weeks in addition to my day job.)

8.  Have different streams of income.
If you make killer sales in one venue, that's awesome. But many people have different streams of income for their businesses.  Etsy is great, but what if you have a crappy month?  Same with consignment shops or craft shows.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket.  I started finding consignment shops before I left my job.  I also lined up a lot of craft shows.  I have a booth at an art market (Building Character).  I have a newsletter to keep in touch with customers.  I follow up with customers whenever and however I can without annoying them.  I network with as many people as possible.  I talk about my business.....get the idea?  :)

9.  Having your own business is a ton of work.  You'll work harder than you ever did before in your life.  But it is so much more rewarding than any job you have ever had, too.  Your dream and your vision become a reality.  

10.  Know when it's time to make a change.

Maybe you thought out your business plan, tested out the market and everything was going well and then it all came to a halt.  Recognize and be creative about what you are going to do about it.  Maybe it's time to tweak your business or maybe it's time to just get some extra income elsewhere - add a shop, do a craft show, add some people to your mailing list, etc.

11.  Be realistic.

It's your dream, so it's difficult to be realistic.  Really do your research and preparation before leaving a job.  If you do like your job, maybe hold on to it for now.  I hate hearing about the recession, but it is just reality.  There aren't a lot of jobs to go back to if you change your mind.  So be really sure you are making a decision you can live with if you do choose to leave your job.


This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it is a start.  Hopefully those of you that are thinking or dreaming of your day job have some things to think about while you're dreaming.  IT IS POSSIBLE!  With proper planning.  Your dream and goals are worth waiting until the right time.  I did it for 9 months...and I'm still *mostly* doing it.  I haven't given up my dream, I've just tweaked it a little.  :)  Good luck!

(P.S.  There is a lot to be said about just going for it, too.)

1 comment:

Apron Senorita said...

Wow, deep breath... I too dream of leaving the day job some day. I have 2 teen kids so I need stability for now. Yet, some day I will be an empty-nester and I know I will have more time for my crafts. I am going to print your list and keep it as a guide. I called it a dream but it really needs to be a "plan". Thank you for your wisdom.

Yoli :)