Full-time employment to full-time business owner: how to prepare

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You started your business out of passion, a spark of creativity. And now you sit at your desk in work daydreaming about when, one day in the hopefully not too distant future, you can take your business full time and spend your days doing the thing that fills you with joy and excitement.

But there are a few obstacles between you and handing in your resignation letter. Here’s how to overcome them and reach your goal of being your own boss.

Work out how much money you need to save

It’s much easier to say that you’ll be taking your business full time “someday” rather than setting a specific date to burn your briefcase. That way, if you don’t quit your job before your deadline, you haven’t failed. But the thing is, you’ve set your deadline, so you’re allowed to change it. And “someday” might never come. So set a date and start the countdown timer.

How do you decide on this date?

Well, first you need to work out your monthly expenses including rent, any bills you’re responsible for, food and a little bit of fun money. That’s your monthly minimum living cost.

Ideally, you’ll save 3 months’ to a year’s worth of living costs to keep you on your feet during those shaky first few months of self-employment. Think of it as your safety net.

Decide how many months you want to save for and…start saving! How much can you afford to save each month and how quickly do you want to do this? If your wages alone aren’t enough to get you outta there as quickly as you’d like, you could:

  • Start working on your business before you leave your job (see point 4)

  • Work overtime if this is something your work offers

  • Work a side job if it’s feasible

  • Have a declutter and sell things you don’t need

  • Cut down on unnecessary expenses

Work on your business plan

As you may know, I think business plans are really important.

Not just for, well, planning your business strategy, but also getting really clear and specific on who your business is for and how you’ll make money.

So once you’ve sorted out your finances and set your leaving date, make sure you aren’t just leaping into the unknown without knowing what you’re doing. This will make things so much easier for you.

Here are some things to include in your business plan:

  • What products or services will your business offer?

  • Who is your ideal customer?

  • How will you market your business to them?

  • How much will you charge?

  • Who are your competitors and how will you stand out from them?

  • What are your long and short-term goals?

I also sell a resource kit for new business owners which includes a business plan and customer avatar template to make planning your success a whole lot easier!

Plan your exit

Here comes the fun part! Chances are that your job requires a notice period, so check how much notice you’ll need to give before leaving, and you may also have certain responsibilities that you need to hand over to your successor. Make a note of anything that only you know how to do and how to do it, which will make life easier for the person who does your old job.

Where you go from here depends on who you work for, and what kind of manager you have, so tread carefully.

If you have an understanding and supportive boss, you may wish to give them a heads up that you’re planning to leave to start your own business and when, so they’re able to plan for your exit and find a replacement.

However, remember that as lovely as your manager may seem, they might not take kindly to your plans, especially if it makes their job harder or they take it as a slight against the company rather than you being considerate enough to let them know in advance that you’re leaving. If you aren’t thinking of leaving for a while, they could make your life more difficult, so really think about it before deciding whether to let your boss know.

Start making money from your business ASAP

As I mentioned earlier, you might want to start working on getting clients or customers before you leave your current job, as this will make the transition smoother and a lot less terrifying than finding yourself twiddling your thumbs on your first day as your own boss.

It’s much easier to find clients once you’ve worked with some already, as if you do a good job they’re likely to refer you to others and (hopefully) give you stellar reviews and testimonials.

Yes, working on your business around your full-time job is flippin’ exhausting, but if your plan is to take it full time, it’s worth it. That’s coming from someone who’s done it.

I don’t recommend working 14 hour days as a lifestyle, but for a short period when you’re growing your business while working to pay your bills, it can be worth it.

Decide how your self-employed workday will look

Going from commuting, a busy workplace full of people and someone else telling you what to do to being able to work alone in your house and being in charge of your own schedule can be a bit of a shock, so before your first day as CEO at You, Inc. spend a little time deciding on a routine.

I personally found it helpful to get up and dressed as if I was working my previous hours for my first few weeks going it alone, as it meant that my sleeping pattern wasn’t messed up, and there’s just something about getting showered and dressed first thing that gets me into work mode.

I also make a rough plan of what I need to work on and when I’m going to do it each week and add it to my calendar, which really helps me focus on the task at hand instead of trying to do five different jobs at once and ending up with nothing done. My friend Holly wrote an awesome post about time blocking which I fully recommend - it will change your working life!

Working from home can get lonely and kind of boring, especially if you’ve come from an office where you were never far away from a chinwag. Make sure you get out of the house at least once a day, and if you’re feeling lonely or demotivated, take yourself off to a coffee shop or book a day at a coworking space.

Tell HMRC that you’re self-employed

Finally, don’t forget that as soon as you start earning money from your business, you need to register as self-employed with HMRC.

It’s super quick and easy, here’s how to do it.

Welcome to the self-employed life!


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