5 Strategies for Transitioning from Your Day Job to Your Side Business

January 17, 2013  |  

It’s a New Year!

I’m a sucker for blank slates. Whether it be cracking open a brand new notebook or opening up WordPress to compose a new blog post, the thought of starting anew is insanely invigorating for me. The start of January evokes the same feeling. With each new year comes the prospect of new opportunity, and for so many women I talk to, rebranding clients or otherwise, that includes the chance to reinvent themselves or their businesses based on where their true passion lies.

Exactly one year ago, I found myself embarking on what was quite possibly the biggest reinvention journey of my life to date: I was officially self-employed after a decade of practicing law for a private firm and the federal government. It was both a thrill and incredibly terrifying! When it came to my spirit and my sanity, the career change was 100% necessary; I was experiencing burnout at work from juggling family with career, and it was reflecting in my attitude and performance both on the job and at home – a bad look all around! And so, with much thought and planning with my husband, I took the plunge.

That sounds so daring and sexy doesn’t it? Truth be told, a lot of preparation, discussion, strategizing, and failed attempts at all of the above resulted in me finally being able to draft my resignation letter. By far, the number one comment I heard from people was: “You’re so lucky! I wish I could do that too, but I have no idea how.”

I’m here to tell you that ‘luck’ has nothing to do with it. What’s that old saying? “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” I couldn’t agree more – laying the groundwork and then timing your reinvention thoughtfully is critical.

Twelve months later, I can point to 5 specific strategies that made my transition successful:

1. Treat Your Day Job As Your First Investor. I’m not sure where I first heard this but it made perfect sense to me! We often worry about seeking funding from family and friends for our ventures and passion projects while ignoring the solid paycheck we are currently receiving at our day jobs. Set aside a portion of your current paycheck to serve as startup capital for your future project or side business. Those savings can also come in handy for living expenses while you get your new gig off of the ground.

2. Experiment. This was a huge one for me. I launched my blogs and my businesses while working. {For a great resource, check out Tai Goodwin’s Launch While Working site.} Doing this allowed me to try a few different ventures before finding those that had viability (and that I was truly passionate about). Because I was still working my full-time job, I had the luxury of experimenting with various business models without impacting my family’s budget.

3. Lay the Foundation. Once you isolate the project or business that you want to seriously pursue, take the time needed to build a solid foundation. It took me a while to realize that there really is no rush. Blogalicious was entering year 4 when I finally left my day job. The more you can develop your business on the side, the better off you will be when you eventually are able to focus on it full-time. Also, don’t underestimate the skills and training you are developing at your current job. Consider how those can translate to your new venture.

4. Nurture Support Systems. Prepare those around you for your eventual transition. Think and talk through how your reinvention will change their lives. Not only are finances a (major) consideration, but also changes in your lifestyle. Will you be working around the clock instead of 9:00am – 5:00pm? Will you be traveling a lot? Will you get paid only once every 6 months? Will you be converting the dining room into your office? Your family and close friends are an entrepreneur’s best friend. Treat them as such from the get go.

5. Refrain From Comparison. Comparison is a killer, especially in this age of social media where people post about their awesomeness all day long for all the world to see. I had the pleasure of serving as a Community Leader at last year’s Blissdom Conference and was able to hear Jon Acuff present a keynote speech. What stuck with me from his remarks was this: “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” It reminded me of the saying: “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides,” the point being that we are each on our own individual journeys with things happening in their rightful order and time. You have no idea what that person went through to get where they are. But you do know what you have to do to get where you want to go. Keep your eye on the prize!

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