This post was born out of my 1 year update from leaving the corporate world behind. With my FULL BLOWN Mid Life Crisis a year behind me I feel like I may be able to offer useful advice. I went from being a Systems Engineer to being a designer, painter, DIY educator among 50 other things. I encourage you to read the back story and the 1 year update to truly get to where I am today and understand the advice.
I am a risk averse person. A responsible person. A do everything the right way kind of person. Quitting my job, went against everything that felt right. I just got so miserable that my husband spent a year begging me to just quit. This little nugget leads me to my first piece of advice.
1) Give yourself permission to quit. It is not easy. This is the hardest step and took me over a year to get there. But, It shouldn't feel easy. Once you have reached the decision that you need to quit for your own sanity and happiness the first step before you even do it, is give yourself permission. It is okay to not be miserable.
2) Make a Plan - Have you always thought you would be in the corporate world? Does quitting sound crazy? For me, I had to make a plan. Why did I need to quit? What would quitting do for me and our business? Once you have the "why's" you can quickly establish a general plan of action and a real business plan. Part of our plan was saving up for me to quit to make me somehow feel better about the financial burden. That didn't work out. Once day I just had to quit. But an idea of what you want to accomplish with your new found time and a business plan is well advised.
3) Do It Afraid - If you aren't terrified I am going to guess you are missing something. Running your business is not NOT risky. It is not easier work. It is not less stress. It is just different. Mentally prepare yourself to sacrifice but with a list of goals and reasons as to why. At my corporate job I was miserable for no reason...at least now, if I do get stressed out it is still in regards to my work, my growth, and my success. Update: Steve Harvey recently spoke to his audience about JUMPING. It is a great video! We prepared ourselves mentally to struggle in the beginning because we knew it would be hard!
4) QUIT- Get your ducks in a row before you do this. Health insurance, 401k, whatever you need to do....do it before you put your notice in.
5) Get help- I know you just quit your job. I know you are now poor. BUT, hear me, you can not afford not to have help. I got part time contracting help immediately, hoping one day I could hire someone. Now, I have 2 employees on real payroll.
(Update as of January 2016: We are now at 5 employees including myself and Brandt who also quit his engineering job to help me! Super exciting but even scarier! Be smart about when to hire and LEARN to delegate)
You can not do everything. I was an engineer, I am a numbers person. I can do payroll, sales tax, employment taxes, and all that stuff but should I really be spending 40 hours a month on reconciliation? NO. The best money I have decided to spend to date is having our CPA take over all that. For $300 a month, I don't worry about the finances in any way, shape or form. It was a huge burden. Now it is gone. Wherever you feel burdened...that probably means there is someone in the world that can do it more efficiently than you can and it is better to pay that person and focus on what you are good at. Does that make sense? Yes, you are spending money. You will grow faster.
6) Refer to plan- The first year of quitting your business and life will change so much. Our plan from a year ago to today does not even look like the same company. Revisit your plan. Update it. Redo it. Reevaluate it. You need to see when you have reached goals and when to make new ones so you can GROW. This prevents you from having this turn into another job you hate! This is also a good way to see how you are doing financially and if it was the right decision. We gave ourselves a time frame to check in to see if I needed to go back to a "real job".
7) Taxes & Insurance - Make sure you have a handle on what taxes and insurance types you will need for your business as you grow. For example, once we hit 5 employees, I can no longer be excluded from workman's comp. It is good to know these things so you aren't surprised with a $4000 bill at the end of the year.
8) Make a schedule- When you start doing this full time. Know and accept you will work a lot especially in the beginning! I get up earlier than I used to and work from home for a bit and then go into the workshop. I work later than I used to. Be committed.
9) FUN- We literally schedule time off. It is so so so hard to get away we make a point to schedule time off or fun things to do. You have to, for your sanity.
10) Do it RIGHT Sometimes when you are starting out you pinch pennies every which way. It is good to be frugal. However, a lot of times I regret my frugality because then I have to redo things. It is always better to do things RIGHT in business. Like your website, for example. DO. IT. RIGHT. And, constantly improve it. Mine has gone through at least 2 major overhauls in 2 years and is getting ready for a third. I had someone tell me once they only do business with small business and thought because of my facebook page and website that I was a giant corporation. At the time, it was just me and my hubby. They were so so impressed and thrilled to do business with us. You want to look professional!
Bonus #11) Family & Friends Treasure them. It takes a village to run your life and business when you are an entrepreneur. At this point, I need someone to remind me to shower. Our friends and family our super heros. We can not survive with out them. My husband has also been a huge support. He not only wanted me to quit a year before I did but he accepts my laundry disaster - by accept I mean tolerates- and he makes dinner, does the grocery shopping and keeps me alive. Plus helps at the shop almost every day. Accept help. You need it!
Bonus #12) You are not alone! Remember that! Come here and chat if you need to!