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I’m an international marketing coach, top-ranking podcast host, speaker, interiors lover and black coffee drinker.
If you are currently working full time or part time for someone else, but you really want to resign and go all in on your business, chances are you might be wondering when the right time is to take the leap.
From my own experience quitting my job to go full time in my business, and speaking with many of my students who (very excitingly!) have done the same, there are two main ways to approach this.
Which of these approaches that you choose to take will likely to come down to two things: your personality and your circumstances.
Let’s explore these two approaches – along with the things I considered before I quit my job.
Leap then Build
Let’s call the first approach “Leap then Build”. This is where you typically have the start of a business. You have sold your first few products, or you have taken on your first few clients projects.
You have been hustling outside of your 9 to 5 and you are starting to see traction. However, right now, the revenue from your business is not close to the revenue from your job.
But all you can think about is growing your business. You can see the potential for it. You just want and need to have the time and space to build it.
Resigning from your job might not make sense of paper when you look at the numbers, but for you, it’s the only choice because you feel that calling to leap into your business so strongly.
This was the approach I took.
I had a fantastic job. I was working in digital marketing for my local tourism body. I was well paid, the work was mostly low stress and I had quite a lot of autonomy and creativity in my role. I was able to meet and connect with many of the local business owners who were members of the tourism organisation I worked for and attend the fun tourism events, often as a VIP.
There was nothing overly “bad” about my job.
But the thing was, I had started to attract my own clients.
My very first client found me through my blog and asked me to write her own blog, social media and newsletters. I vividly remember taking the call as I was walking back to the office from my lunch break and her asking how much I charged. I had no idea so on the spot I said “$50 per hour” and she agreed.
My next few clients came soon after, with my name spreading around town as someone who could “do” digital marketing.
I couldn’t wait to get home from my day job so I could write marketing strategies, plan social media content, put together email newsletters, and build websites for my clients.
I saw a real need for the work I could offer to local businesses. Fresh, modern, social media and online marketing strategy that many of the existing local agencies weren’t offering.
There were two other things happening in my personal life at the time. My pop, who I was very close with, was sick. I remember breaking all the rules and booking the work car so I could visit him in hospital on my lunch break. To me the rules of working 9 to 5 with a 40 minute lunch break in the middle just felt so futile. Couldn’t we put in the hours when we wanted to work? I knew I was efficient, and I could sit at the desk with all of my work finished, waiting for the clock to hit 5pm so I could leave. It just didn’t make sense to me.
The other thing was that I had met my now-fiance Koden. I was living about 90 minutes’ drive from him – me in a regional city and him in Melbourne.
I would travel to Melbourne most weekends, and often get up early on Monday morning to drive back to get to work. Again, I felt frustrated: why couldn’t I work remotely? Why must I physically be sitting at a desk in order to prove I’m working?
I didn’t have anyone depending on my income apart from me, but I had recently bought my own townhouse, so I had a mortgage to pay.
On paper, it didn’t make sense of me to quit my job: I wasn’t yet earning anywhere near my wage from my handful of clients.
But to me, quitting my job felt like the only viable option: I had to give running my own business a go. I couldn’t stand working in a system anymore that felt so frigid – I wanted to have more flexibility to be with my loved ones and work around them.
People often say “you must have been so scared” or “that was so brave” but it didn’t feel like that to me. It really felt like the only option that made sense.
So what did it look like financially?
I had some savings, so I had somewhat of a buffer. I was also able to Leap then Build because of privilege that I know not everyone has. First of all I’m white. I haven’t had to deal with racial prejudice that can impact financial security and offer fewer opportunities to people of colour.
I was also privileged to have a very supportive mum who I knew I could move in with if I really became strapped financially. And that was the risk I was willing to take.
There was a possibility that I would have to move out of my house and put tenants in, or even sell my house. This obviously isn’t viable for many people or a risk you are willing to take.
For me personally, I was.
Taking my mum’s advice, I asked to go part time in my job (I really didn’t want to but I knew it made sense!). When I was told “no”, I handed in my resignation the next day.
So what happened next? I was part lucky and part worked for it.
I secured a contract to run an event marketing campaign worth several thousands of dollars which meant I had some solid revenue for the next few months.
I got out and networked, invited people out for coffee, pitched my services, shared valuable content on social media, built a brand that stood out from others in the industry, enrolled in a business education program, learnt as much as I could.
Within the first 12 months of my business, my revenue exceeded my previous salary.
I leaped then built down to my personality – having a higher risk profile and a distaste of “rules for the sake of rules” (haha), and because of my circumstances, mainly not having other people (children, parents, or others) dependent on my income, in which case I may have chosen approach number two. Let’s look at it now.
Build then Leap
Approach number two to quitting your job to go full time in your business is what I call “Build then Leap”.
Those who take this approach are likely to have different personalities – or specifically lower risk profiles – than those who Leap then Build but also (or simply only) different circumstances. For instance, it actually could well be too rash and risky to quit your job before you have built up enough revenue in your business to support yourself and/or people in your care.
Not being able to cover your rent or mortgage may put you at real risk of homelessness, if you don’t have the privilege of family or friends who you know would take you in.
Neither approach is more desirable, more impressive or better in any way than the other.
In this approach, you are likely to be building your business during the time you would normally be spending relaxing or at social occasions to build your business.
But to you, it’s completely worth it because you have a real hunger and determination to move out of your job into your business.
And so it may take some time, but your eyes are on the prize, you are intentional and determined, and you build your business to the point where there risk in quitting your job is at a level that you are comfortable with.
If you are currently thinking about or in the Build then Leap process, there has to be some real scrutiny of your time. You need to prioritise your time to build your business. And the more you are willing to do that, typically, the quicker you’ll be able to take the leap.
When I get messages from people on Instagram asking when the best time is to quit their job, some people often tell me they just don’t have time to build their business, but they don’t want to leave their job yet.
To me, sometimes that means you want to have your own business, but you’re not willing to do the things needed to have it. You aren’t hungry for your own business enough to prioritise the time to build it so that you can quit your job. You’re going to need to replace the time you would normally spend relaxing or at social occasions to build your business. Or if you have children, this may look like finding help to give you more time to work on your business.
Or you simply like the idea of having your own business, but you’re happy “enough” in your job that the sacrifices needed to build your business are ones you actually aren’t willing to make. – and that’s ok.
Just like neither approach to quitting your job to go full time in your business is more desirable, more impressive or better in any way than the other, neither is being an employee or a business owner.
So if you are looking to go full time in your business, understand your personality and risk profile, along with your circumstances, then decide which approach is going to be best for you: Leap then Build or Build then Leap.
If you are ready to take your business to the next level, to connect with your audience, attract more of your ideal customers, and make great money, without meaning you need to sacrifice your lifestyle in order to grow, my free online class is PERFECT for you. Go to emilyosmond.com/free to register!
I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as the traditional and ongoing custodians of the Kulin Nation: the place in which I live, love, work and play, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.