Juggling a full-time job and a side-hustle? It’s not easy, we know. You’ve probably fantasized about ditching the daily grind and working strictly for yourself. Question is, exactly when is the right time to take that plunge? After all, it’s a huge decision, one that impacts everything from your schedule (hello, 24/7/365), vacation time (goodbye, PTO), family life (deadlines always happen when your kid is home sick!) and, of course, your financial security (or, ahem, the lack of it).
We’ve rounded up some tidbits of advice from other QB Community members who, like you, have wrestled with when to go all-in on their part-time gig. We hope sharing their wisdom and experience will help you determine the perfect time to start working for yourself.
Know thyself (and thy willingness to work for others)
Sometimes, the decision to leave a conventional job boils down your tolerance for doing things someone else’s way. Consider what motivated these QB Community members to fully embrace their inner self-starter:
“I was in a safe, stable job earning six figures. But I felt like I was dying inside. I suck at office politics. I love adventure, and being defined by my job description drove me crazy. That being said, our decision to commit full-time to Outlaw Soaps could have been a terrible idea! All we had at that point was our first purchase order and my 401K. We moved to Oakland because we could live rent-free in a building my husband managed. Talk about having our entrepreneurial heads in the stars!” — Danielle Vincent, founder of Outlaw Soaps
“I made a name for myself cooking on TV, so when it came to setting up a business, we were lucky enough to have some big investment offers. One guy offered us $1 million to start out, but we turned him down. My wife Amanda and I decided to open the food truck with only our personal savings — we’d spent enough time working for others and making them richer, so decided to do this on our own. There were risks, but we had no doubts.”— Johnny Zone, chef and owner of Howlin’ Ray’s Hot Chicken
Before you dive in, save up
No doubt about it: working for yourself takes a huge leap of faith. Having a few bucks in the bank will help you survive (and sleep at night) as you figure out how to make your business soar.
“I spent many years as part of the conventional workforce, doing various jobs such as project- and order management and network planning. Then a friend asked me, “Have you considered having more than one source of income?” The floodgates opened. I started as a “side-preneur,” with a secondary passion project that had purpose and meaning. I wanted to hone my skills before leaving my stable job. It was a wise decision, especially for someone with a family.” — SJ Barakony, founder of Service Before Self Leadership
“To be totally honest, I may have done better to wait a little longer before diving in. It would have helped to have just a little more money saved up. It was very difficult to keep up with just the cost of having a business in that first year. Between the price of fabric and making sure the bills got paid, it was really hard for me to start up by myself.” — Jillian Maddocks, fashion entrepreneur
“Visiting poor communities [in Guatemala] helped me understand that poverty is extremely culturally complicated … It took 3 1/2 years from that initial visit to get the guts up to do something. I didn’t quit my day job until two years after The Root Collective started. The business is still evolving and there is a lot to learn, but I’m capable of more than I’d have ever thought.” — Bethany Tran, founder of The Root Collective
According to both established and evolving entrepreneurs, it’s super important to set aside any fantasies about being your own boss. Reliable, long-term success is a lot more likely when your expectations (financial and otherwise) are grounded in reality -- even when reality can be rather cold and hard.
“One aspect I’d do differently is to have more patience regarding my expectations of how quickly things should happen. Success is not a linear trajectory, and it’s important to remember that.” — Dan Shmitt, ceramicist
“I'm surprised by how slow my progress has been. I guess I thought that when I launched a bunch of new designs, they would be flying off the shelves. Instead, I'm finding that marketing and pushing my products takes time before sales and interest starts to generate.” — Bridgett Dorr, ceramicist
“I expected to be able to pay myself within a few months of starting out, but it was more like 10 months before I took home my first decent paycheck. Up until that point, I put everything I earned back into the business.” — Justin Nelson, founder of Fernweh Woodworking
Stay lean (for now and forever more)
Whether you’re officially self-employed or still carving out time for your side-biz, it’s always smart keeping your operating budget as lean as possible. Here’s some advice from folks in the know:
“I have been in a situation where the money spent on supplies should have been spent on food and transportation. Although I never felt poor, I did feel broke.”— Victoria Beadz, jewelry designer
“I was able to get by on a very lean budget. There were times when I was paying bills at the last minute, but we survived. Watch your spending and be wise on business purchases and you will succeed.” — Rebecca Neilson, QuickBooks ProAdvisor
“Spend as little money as possible on anything (or anyone) that does not directly bring in revenue. Always ask for a discount or a better deal. If they say no, at least you tried.” —Leslie Barber, co-founder, Nutrabella
Before you go
Learning from those who have gone before you about when and whether it’s time to turn your side-hustle into a full-time occupation is just the beginning of what’s possible here in the QuickBooks Community.
Joining the QB Community connects you to others who, just like you, dare to work for themselves. (Find the Sign Up link to the upper right!)