Social media glamorizes entrepreneurship.
Memes will make you feel like you should quit your job today, start your business tomorrow and travel the world next week. Hence, living your best life. Slow down, cowgirl. It’s not as easy as it looks. With that said, you CAN leave your cushy corporate job and be successful . But first, you must first have a plan.
I quit my job in July 2018 to pursue blogging and freelance writing full time.
One part of my entrepreneurial strategy is to “keep my ears to the (corporate America) streets.” As a lifestyle and career blogger, it is important that I continue to gain experience both in and out of the traditional “office. I take corporate contracts as a Senior Learning Consultant to continue to expand my network, grow my skills and let’s be real…earn income to fill in the gaps between writing assignments and to support my shopping habit. You might include a similar strategy that not only earns additional income but provides opportunities to grow in other ways during your entrepreneurial journey.
12-month Guide to Chucking the Duces to Your Day Job
Moment of transparency: I didn’t have a plan when I decided that I was ready to make my grand exit. With hindsight being 20/20, I now realize that everything that I did in the 12 months prior to leaving my role was actually a plan. My last official day in corporate America was July 27, 2018.
Here’s what I did in the 365 prior to logging out of my corporate laptop for the last time:
Preparation is key. At this point, you should volunteer to gain valuable experience in areas that will benefit your future (or current side hustle) business. Take advantage of this time, while you have a primary source of income, to get experience and exposure for your business or yourself...for free. Use PTO or volunteer time off so that you still get paid from your corporate gig. Take advantage of opportunities that your employer provides for you to take classes or earn certifications that will help you in your business later on. Be sure to look at the qualifications to find out if you are required to stay at the company for a certain time after using the education benefit .
Now is the time to access your financial situation including spending habits, healthcare expenses and living arrangments. Ask yourself, if you made no money in the first six months of entrepreneurship, how much money would you need to survive? That’s what your savings goal should be. Start now. If you have the capacity, find a part time job or other way to earn income to help save.
What I did: I took a writing class at a local community college to sharpen my writing skills. To earn extra money, I updated resumes (clients came by word of mouth), wrote bios for local professionals and picked up one off contracts to ghostwrite for a number of projects. I also offered personal styling services.
Find people who have done or are doing what you want to do. Connect with them and ask questions. They will be helpful resources that can share their journey’s with you. They can also point you in the direction of resources that can help you. Continue to build and grow your product or service. This is the time of trial and error. Host informal focus groups, pilot your ideas….now is the time to begin building tangible pieces of your business.
What I did: I kept a running list of topics that I wanted to share on my blog as well as pitch to larger publications. I asked friends, colleagues and social media if the topics were of interest to them. I also asked for feedback on to present the content (blog, podcast, social media, etc.).
It’s grind time! You should work on your website, branding, content and marketing materials. Just because you are a new business owner doesn’t mean that you have to look the part. You want to present yourself as a professional. Now more than ever, start getting the word out. Let people know what you do or will be doing. Network in your new field/industry.
What I did: If someone complimented my outfit, I’d tell them to follow me on social media because I was starting a blog soon. When someone asked that I work on their resume or ‘ghostwrite’ a resignation letter for them, I let them know that I’d be launching my freelance writing business soon. I used Canva to design my business cards and printed them on Vista Print. I started developing my blog on Squarespace and spent long nights playing around with templates. I began writing blog posts and brainstorming. In the upcoming months, I finished enough posts so that I had 6 finished posts when I launched this blog.
Planning and getting yourself ahead will be helpful in the long term, especially once you get busy and opportunities begin popping up out of nowhere.
The last 3 months will fly by! Use this time to buckle down on savings and planning for medical and other expenses. It was around this time that I came up with my rates. For many new entrepreneurs, its easy to get discount our prices because we are new or feel like we need to build up to higher prices. I did research on the going rates for freelance contributors to publications. I also considered the number of hours I wanted to commit to writing. Also I thought about the costs to have photos taken for headshots. For speaking engagements I came up with a different rate to include travel fees. It’s ok to adjust your price as you learn more, but definitely be proactive in pricing instead of reactive when someone wants to purchase a service and then you are coming up with a number at whim.
What I did: I also explored different ways to make money.. I knew that I was interested in not only writing about lifestyle and career topics, but speaking about them as well. I created a speaker’s reel and bio. I also wanted to do podcasts so I recorded myself speaking. I wanted to write for lifestyle and career blogs so I prepared posts for both as writing samples would be required when I submitted.
Sign, Sealed & Delivered: It’s Time to Resign!
Now that its time to turn in your resignation, here are a couple of things to remember:
· Set your successor up for success. Make sure that information is easy to find, finish projects (or provide an update of your status) and tie up all loose ends.
· Remain professional. Even if it’s a job, or people, that you hate do not leave in a blaze of fire. #ItsaVerySmallWorld
· If you can, be transparent. Let your coworkers know about your business. They could be future clients!
Remember , there is no shame in returning to corporate America if you need to do so in the future. Each of our journey’s are unique. Do not let social media (or your friends, family or neighbor’s) dictate what your journey should look like. 12
With the start of a new year, there’s no time like the present to begin your 12-month exit plan!