Quitting Your Day Job – When Should Budding Entrepreneurs Make the Leap (Guest Contribution from Kat Buckley)

The following post comes to us from Kat Buckley, digital communication and marketing professional with experience working with non-profits and start-ups. Keep reading to learn from Kat the tell-tale signs that budding entrepreneurs are ready to make the leap and turn their side hustle into a full-time career.

Becoming your own boss is exhilarating and a dream for many people and setting up my cleaning company HappyCleans while I worked a full-time job was certainly an eye-opening experience. However, making that leap can be frightening. Entrepreneurs know that working their regular jobs and their businesses simultaneously cannot continue forever but how do you know the right time to ‘go for it’?

Set goals

For each person, the determination of “my business is successful enough to sustain me” is at a different point. Don’t set the bar too high, though. There will always be the fear that it’s too soon, but if you try to wait until your business is where you want it to be, you might kill yourself by working too much first. Moreover, it is very difficult to grow your business when you’re spending up to 50 hours of your week at your regular job. While you want to make sure that you have some savings before quitting, you do not have to wait until you are too worn down to work both jobs. Make sure the goals are attainable and reasonable for your industry. 

You have some savings

No one should try to navigate quitting their job without at least some savings. It’s a risky game. Sure, you can try to live on credit cards for a few months, but that will be extremely stressful and impact your performance. It’s also a dangerous game that builds more debt so your savings should be enough to pay all of your bills for a few months at least. If your business is turning a profit, this nest egg might get depleted a little, but if you use it all up in three months, you might have jumped out too quickly. 

Your success requires more time

If you have done nearly everything you can after hours, on weekends, and during lunch breaks but your business still isn’t where you want it to be you either go for it or give up on the business. It can sometimes be difficult to figure out if the business simply requires more work, or if it just isn’t a good idea. Think about this carefully before making any rash decisions. There’s no way you can do both forever, and if you are genuinely committed to your business, there has to come to a point that your job could be detrimentally affecting your future. If this is the case, it might be time to think about leaving. If you are not financially capable of leaving yet, see if you can scale back to part-time or fewer hours a week. 

No focus on the job

If you are spending more time focusing on your new business at the expense of your job performance, you might want to consider leaving. Many employers will not stand for compromised job performance, especially when they get the feeling that the employee will soon leave anyway. Rather than risk getting fired, consider leaving. 

Are you prepared for the struggle? 

While you may not be so impoverished that you cannot eat or struggling to keep a roof over your head; you still have to ensure that you are spending as much time and money on your new business as possible. You have to be able to cover bills at home and work now, so for a while, fun may not be in your vocabulary. Are you at a point you can make ends meet and spend everything else on the business? If not, you need more time but if you are it could be time to finally focus solely on your business.

Are your expectations reasonable? 

If you expect quitting your job to create infinite profits overnight, you will not be satisfied. However, if you know that your business will require incredible amounts of work and energy to be successful, you are on the right track. Quitting your job can have positive effects on your workload and the profitability of your business, but it is not going to do that overnight. You need to have realistic expectations because the emotional distress from failed expectations can have a big impact on your success. 

Are you ready? 

Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith. Perhaps you will just know when you emotionally and financially ready. Look past your fears and think about what is truly important to you and your future. Do not make any rash decisions, but waiting until the time is perfect is tricky as it may never come. If you cannot stomach going to work any longer, and you are financially stable without the job, it is probably time to make the leap. 

Final considerations

The leap is rarely an easy one to make. Consider also, if you make the leap, are you in a position that losing what you have built will be okay? Will you be able to recover from a loss? While no one wants to lose everything, we cannot control everything and external forces. Consider whether or not you can withstand some of these external difficulties. What can you do to prevent this from happening? You will never have the perfect answer for when the best time to quit your day job might be, but have faith in your abilities, and you give yourself every possible chance of things work out.

About the Author: Kat Buckley is digital communication and marketing professional with experience working with non-profits and start-ups. She is passionate about helping great causes use their stories to reach the people they support. She works with charities and consultancies, unlocking their voice and sharing their vision via written communications, marketing, and social media. Learn more about Kat and connected with her on Linkedin.

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