Level 6

How to Be Self-Employed, Part One: Taking the Leap & Setting Goals


Becoming successfully self-employed is no easy feat. However, after talking to so many of you about how you created your jobs and how you found your first customers, we passionately believe in the opportunity to tap this powerful community to successfully make the leap to self-employment.


Whether you want to hone your skills as an independent contractor, kick off freelance work, work from home or sell on Etsy, your fellow members and their stories enable all of us to learn faster and realize success sooner with fewer mistakes along the way.


As an easy way to get started, we've put together the following series to capture some of the most important stories and ideas throughout our community. Enjoy, and we can't wait to have you share your own story on the way to becoming a secret weapon in achieving everything you want to achieve.


The Handbook for
How to Be Self-Employed: Part One



1. What kind of self-employed job am I qualified for?

Becoming successfully self-employed isn't about finding a job, it's about creating one. For many, it starts with a main goal or personal mission. We recommend using a Morning Ritual to reflect on your strengths back when you worked for someone else, or the things you loved doing when you were a kid. Do you have a knack for marketing? Catering? Consulting? Yoga? Design? Counseling? Back massages?


Choose something that you could imagine doing for 20 out of 24 hours every day, and commit to it.

It can be tempting to try out a few options simultaneously or offer a long list of services to your potential customers, but the most successful members of our self-employed community have a clear, descriptive personal brand that makes it easier to get new business as well as generate enough demand for them to deliver a great product or service to happy customers


"We realized that we could make more money just selling our photographs, instead of also working as event photographers. Despite our passion for the theater industry, we seized this opportunity to profit from pursuing our shared hobby full-time."  – Jordana and Cassius Wright, freelance photographers



2. How do I turn a hobby or skill into a business?

The first step to turning your hobby into a business is to set your goals. What does success look like for you? From there, we've seen successful self-employed professionals embrace a simple process:

  • Write out a main goal and long term vision for being self-employed
  • Do the math of what it will take to support yourself successfully 
  • Identify short-term projects and goals every morning before you start your day


Start out by creating a long-term mission for yourself. What is your main goal? What's the end goal? Where will your business ultimately go? How much money do you want to make? Write this on a post-it and put it on your desk. And on your bed frame. And your bathroom mirror. And on the milk carton in your fridge!


Next, do the math. Where do you want to be financially 30 days or 12 months after you become self-employed? Focus on what it's going to take to successfully land your first customer, then move on to what you want to accomplish during the following 30 days.


Then, break it down to short-term projects or goals. What do you need to accomplish every day in order to hit your monthly milestones? How many hours will you spend serving one customer? 2 hours? 200 hours? Start a morning ritual, and stick to it for at least a month. Keep in mind that your daily goals might include personal objectives as well: staying fit, being a parent or getting a full night's sleep. 


Following this simple process - or something similar that works for you - you'll more clearly see what you need to do next and tap the right folks and stories here in QB Community to achieve your goals.



"At a point, I thought to myself: if I could impact 10 kids a month on my own, then what could happen if I hired 1,000 people to teach cooking classes? I set a goal to make a business plan that was profitable, scalable and appealing to me so that I could grow my business." – Jan Pinnington, self-employed cooking instructor


3. When should I quit my day job?

If you aren't working full-time right now, congratulations! You can skip this step. :-) If you are, have no fear. You aren't the first person to quit their day job in order to pursue their self-employed dreams, and it doesn't have to be painful. It just needs to be timed right.


Make sure you give yourself a few months to think about how to approach leaving your job and what kind of savings you need to have in the bank first in order to live comfortably while you transition to self-employment. Spend a little time doing the math and figure out your After Tax Income once you become self-employed, so that you know how much you will need to have stored away.


As far as letting your boss know your decision to set out on your own, an impulsive conversation can get ugly fast. Instead, set a date in the future for yourself so that you have time first to reflect on your goals and plan for what you'll be doing once you leave. Make sure you've identified what your new career in self-employment will be and you're ready to commit to it 100%. 


With this preparation in place, talk to your company. Give plenty of notice and avoid severing ties or ending relationships. You never know when they may need your consulting services once you're out on your own!



"I realized that I could either spend my energy on negativity after a bad day at work or funnel my frustration towards a more positive goal. I wrote down 'September 2012' on a post-it note and put it up in my cubicle. That was my personal deadline to finally take the leap and start my own business." – Theresa Chu, founder of Barley Labs


4. Okay, I made the leap to being self-employed! Now what?


Congratulations! Now it's time to network, network, network.


Find someone who has done your job before you, and who is willing to be a mentor and answer your questions. There's always someone who did it first, and who went through some of the challenges that you're about to face (we promise - even if you think you're the first). And they will have more wisdom to share than any website or career counselor. 


Start here to do your research here in the community, and find everyone nearby in your field. Join a local group, or a small business association. Reach out to folks individually to get coffee or meet up for lunch.

There's a chance they'll say no the first five times. But try someone else, and keep asking until someone says yes. That first person willing to listen to you will be the mentor who really invests in your success. Don't be afraid to get back to the basics of networking and ask others directly for help. 


The personal network you build will be where you learn the inner workings of how to be a contractor or give you tips for how to be a consultant full-time and work from home.


"Once I found a mentor, she identified my talents and strengths before I could see them. I owe her both for my practical skills and business knowledge. 10 years later, she's still a huge advocate for me." – Jihyun Kim, self-employed makeup artist


So, What's Next?!

We're guessing you might have more than just four questions about becoming self-employed. So where do we go next? Check out Part Two of The Handbook for How To Be Self-Employed. And even more answers will be coming your way very soon. 


In the meantime, let us know what you're learning about self-employment by joining us and sharing a new post in the community!

Level 7

Talk about your business

I love how this article touches base on everything. From organizational tips and having a positive mindset to financials. Make sure to check out Part Two and Part Three

Community Champion

Talk about your business

I am learning that I get to have many more opportunities to develop relationships. I enjoy the marketing aspect of the business but what really matters at the. end of the day is that I help others.


As Seth Godin says, do something special so that if you don't show up people will miss you.

Level 7

Talk about your business

Yes! Well said @SteveChase ...and Seth Godin. :smileyhappy:

Community Champion

Talk about your business

I now have some office space at Geekdom, San Antonio. It is a collaborative coworking space. It feels great to a place downtown where I can work, meet clients, cross paths with some great people doing amazing things, and host my own events to teach my classes. This is going to be awesome!!!!


Feeling very blessed to have this opportunity so close to my home.


If you live in San Antonio and you want to start a business Geekdom is the place for you. 









Level 7

Talk about your business

@SteveChase this is so awesome! I have been look into these types of places where I live. I am so grateful to be self-employed and work from home, but sometimes it can get a little lonely. I also love the idea of networking with other entrepreneurial folks. That sort of things excites me about these shared work spaces because you never know who you're going to meet! It's so amazing that you have the opportunity to work at this space and expand your business. Keep us posted on how it goes for you there! 

Level 6

Talk about your business

Congratulations @SteveChase on your new space. That is such a great milestone!

Community Champion

Talk about your business

It is a huge win. I found out that I will get to schedule time once a month with mentors. Geekdom has lots of mentorship programs. It's like I just joined the ymca for entrepreneurs. 

Level 6

Talk about your business

My favorite part:


Following this simple process - or something similar that works for you - you'll more clearly see what you need to do next and tap the right folks and stories here in QB Community to achieve your goals.


This is such a helpful step-by-step approach - Thanks for it @LeslieBarber