When I finally got up the nerve to give my two weeks notice at my engineering job in 2007, my boss’s slightly befuddled response was, “I’ve never had anyone working for me quit before.” Wow! I thought. I’m the first escapee. Is everyone else insane to stay here or am I the one who’s completely off my rocker?
At the time, it would have been helpful to know that thousands of other entrepreneurs had taken the plunge to quit their jobs and that the experience didn’t have to be quite as terrifying as I had made it out to be. So I’ve put together this article to be your one-stop-shop for awesome quitting advice. I’ve asked 25 other successful entrepreneurs from across America the question:
What advice would you give to someone else who wants to quit their day job and go full-time with their small business?
If you want great advice to help you make the transition from employee to entrepreneur, this is it. Grab a pen and paper and take copious notes from what these incredible small business owners have to say about firing yourself…
Mike Solow | CEO | Idea Harvest
First, make sure you have the constitution for it. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. You’ll have to learn how to ‘turn it off’ and will have many sleepless nights until you do. Also recognize that you’ll be the hardest person you’ve ever worked for.
Then…Take the time and do the research. Be a student first and become an expert on your competitive landscape and industry before your jump. Get out there and raise money aggressively, and raise much more money than you think you need today. Then, jump and don’t ever look back. The human body was not designed to sit in a cubicle.
Chris Miles | Founder | Money Ripples
Business is so much better when you realize that you always need to be marketing and connecting with others. Don’t be weird about it or people will think you’re a freak. Develop and nurture relationships with an attitude of service. The more you serve others, the more they will want to serve you *when you ask for it.* Business is built thru relationships where you focus on serving one another. This is how I was able to make over $100,000 in my business in only the first year.
Linda Park | CEO | MOFÉ
I would strongly encourage anyone wanting to quit their day job and go full-time with their small business, and my advice to them is that their desire to succeed must be greater than their fear of failure (quote from Bill Cosby). They also need to understand their situation in terms of finances, time, emotional and mental capabilities because the name of the game in running a small business is persistence, and if one doesn’t have the capacity to comfortably continue on his or her journey, it’s going to be a tough and bumpy road.
Bruce Gray | Artist & Sculpture | Gray Design
I wish I did not listen to the advice given to me by the SBA, who wasted a lot of my time and money trying to follow the conventional path of getting a business loan and hiring employees. This was expensive, unsustainable, and the reality was that no bank would give me a loan without the equity of a property.
My advice would be, especially for artists, ease into a full time career. Do it gradually so you don’t suffer from the roller coaster lifestyle that creative people usually have to deal with. Be prepared for a long road of hard work, and get used to the idea of marketing yourself and spending a lot of time working on the sales end of the business.
Chad Billmyer | CEO | Panjo
Are you married? Make sure your partner is 100% on board. My husband is extremely supportive. That matters from a cash flow perspective. It also matters with respect to the health of your relationship. You might be an entrepreneur, your spouse may not be one. They say opposites attract. Check to make sure your spouse understands early on what “venturing out on your own” means in terms of time and money.
Jackie Laulainen | Founder | The Budget-Minded Traveler
- Quitting a job is not the end of the world.
- Nobody (hopefully) is going to die, and your life is not over.
- Jobs are overrated and lead to modern-day slavery.
- If you are good enough at something that someone else would be willing to pay you for it, GO FOR IT. Your life is worth it, and you will never know the outcome until you test it out.
It wasn’t until I was on my honeymoon that my plan formulated for what I was actually going to do for work when I got back. The lightbulb came on somewhere in Indonesia, and my former employer is now my client for two of my businesses. Three months into starting my second business, I started a third. Four months after that, I published my first book. I fired myself and now I’m on fire. I just had to set myself free from the bonds of having a job.
Ben Hebert | Co-founder | Natural Stacks, LLC
The most important phrase in business is, “out of cash, out of business”. You have to understand your cashflow inside and out. How many months you can last, what your overhead for your business will be and how many sales you’ll have to make to keep the dream alive. Write the number on a whiteboard and stare at it every single day. Make it happen.
Will Mitchell | Founder | StartupBros
The advice I would give is to not be too hasty. Unless you’re drowning in the moment, make sure you have some revenue built up, as well as some savings. It’s never a good idea to quit your job because you don’t like it or you’re burnt out – it IS a good idea to quit it because it’s keeping you from growing your business or furthering your career.
A good test – will people take you seriously with your new job title (Founder of XYZ)? If so, they probably have some respect for what you’re doing. If not, you’ve just made yourself unemployed, and good luck explaining the employment gap…
Ray Pare | Founder | dofahn
I work with many people that have great ideas and the one thing stopping them is that they do not do something every day to move their idea forward. The best advice I got along the way was to commit at least one hour per day to your idea. One hour turns into two, two into four, four into eight and then you quit your day job.
Liran Hirschkorn | Founder | Best Life Quote
My advice would be to just do it. Unless you do, you’ll never know if you will be successful. You can always go back to a job. Believe in yourself and don’t give up, while it isn’t always easy, success is worth it.
Brian Knight | President & Owner | ListTrue
Ok. So you’re miserable (or maybe not so much) and you really want to give it a go! So my advice to you is this: Keep at what you’re doing..and really start going after your passion. Work from the minute you get home and then get up early to work more. Have the resources to quit and have enough saved up for about a year because even with the most careful plans in place, things never go exactly as expected. Especially when launching a new business.
Gigi Griffis | Travel + Inspirational Writer | GigiGriffis.com
Prep before you quit (if you can). Recognize your value and approach sales and marketing with confidence. Learn as much as you can about running a business; much of being on your own is sales, marketing, and financial management. Lavish a lot of love on your clients. Be easy to work with. You’d be surprised how much small business owners and contractors miss deadlines, don’t respond quickly to email, etc. It’s an easy way to stand out from your competition.
Daniel DiPiazza | CEO | Rich20Something
I was really ambitious. If I had to do it all over again, I’d focus on starting small, testing my ideas first to make sure they’re profitable, and then slowly turning my side income up until it was enough to support me full time. That’s also what I’d advise others looking to make the leap should do. Start small, find something that works, then scale it.
Kristina Cutura | Google AdWords Expert | KristinaCutura.com
My advice to those considering quitting their day jobs and working for themselves is make sure to really do your research before you leave your job. Working for yourself can seem glamorous, but you’ll go through a lot of growing pains and will have to wear a lot of hats, learning and handling tasks you may not enjoy doing or that you are not even good at and that you’ll need to get help with. Talk to other people in your industry. Ask them about the good and the bad. Think about what would happen if you did not generate any income or profit for a while. Will your savings and family be able to handle that? Most of all, make sure you do something you’ll feel good about at the end of the day. Being successful in business is important, but you also want to keep your integrity and the end goal in mind — why you decided to work for yourself in the first place. If you wanted to spend more time with your family, make sure you are actually carving out that space.
Devin Devine | Founder | Devine Escapes
A quote from Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, and add that which is uniquely your own.”
And listen to your heart.
And look at it like this: You can sit around and wait for someone to just give you your dream job. Who knows, it might happen. Or you could create your own dream job. My boss is the coolest guy in the world, by the way. Take life by the horns already! You can do it, look at you, you’re a tiger. Go get ’em!
Rohit Singal | CEO | Sourcebits
If your idea excites you more than your current job, go make a startup around it. The time to do it is when you think you might regret NOT acting. That’s when you have to go for it. But be prepared to lose it all, and still survive. It shouldn’t devastate your personal life to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. I didn’t take any advice from friends or family. If I was going to fail, the failure was going to be completely mine.
Erica Duran | Productivity Expert & Coach | Erica Duran Int’l
Do it now! There is always a way to “get by”. I sold everything I had to the last spoon. Most of the things you own are trapping you in a 9 to 5 lifestyle. You probably didn’t even truly want those things but bought them because of marketing or to impress someone that doesn’t even care! The energy you are wasting on your full-time job is robbing you from the lifestyle you want. Start now and course correct because your business will look entirely different a month from now, a year from now, etc.
Derrick Grigg | Owner/Consultant | DGrigg Development Inc.
Have confidence in yourself and be driven, but realize you will have days where your confidence will not be there and the drive will feel like it’s gone. Those are the days that will make or break you. Never be afraid to ask for help because you just never know what the other side will say or do. It’s shocking how many people never think to just ask.
Josh Bois | Co-founder | Global Good Networks
Be ready to work 1000 times harder than you did at a day job to bring in the money to survive and at times thrive. It’s not easy and not having a guaranteed paycheck can make for some really rough times; especially if you have already gone through your savings for the business. Be organized and look for opportunities anywhere and everywhere; be nice to everybody and always stay optimistic. Ask for help from friends and family but be proactive growing your business and hard driving if that means cold calling the press to build buzz or potential customers to get revenue.
Lisa Parmley | CEO | Business Bolts Media
The more time you spend on a business doesn’t always equal more income. I remember thinking that was strange at first because I thought it was all about the hours I put in. I would give someone else that same advice. You really need to think about the activities that truly do make a difference in a business and work on those more than any others to see growth. I also want to say that it’s OK to quit your job! I had a hard time giving it up and spent months agonizing over the decision.
Vannessa Wade | President | Connect the Dots PR
I believe anytime you find yourself dreading work, it is time to explore something new. If I had to do it over again, I would have believed in myself much sooner. I would have given myself permission to be brilliant. I would have listened to the nudge vs waiting for the all clear. There may not be a perfect time to quit your job- but you certainly have to do it with grace. Get busy on your plan, read everything you can about your industry, form a support group, prepare for rejection- it may take a few No’s to get to the YES you need. Most importantly–relax!! Give yourself time to make mistakes- no one knows everything and be open to learning more about yourself and your expertise.
Genie Lim | CCO | PinKixx Jewelry
If you’re just starting and working at home especially like I did, create a space just for business and plan for business everyday. Plan the whole year and break them down into small pieces. Don’t let your personal life interfere your business. Don’t let your business interfere your personal life. They integrate inevitably, but when you work, just work. Don’t think about what has to be done in the kitchen, don’t think about what errand you have to run at 5pm. Have a separate plan for your business everyday and stick to it.
Joe Fairless | Owner | Fairless Real Estate Mentoring
My advice? Make sure you know WHY you’re doing it and how it’s going to benefit others (not just you!). Because there are crazy challenges ahead of you and you’ll push through them if you know how it’s benefiting you, your loved ones and others.
Jamilah Corbitt | Founder | J33 Media
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable – There is no such thing as “the perfect time.” The fear of being homeless and broke is the fuel that keeps me going every day. Feel the fear, but move through it…it’s part of the journey.
Carol Roullard | Artist & Author | Vista Focus
Planning, planning, and more planning. Planning allows you to organize your thoughts, identify your goals and measure your progress. Start this before you quit your day job and you will know what you need to do before you give notice. Detail planning allows you to better determine the “right” time to give notice. On the flip side, don’t plan so much that you can’t decide when it is the “right” time. Quite often there is not a time when it is right but when it is right enough. Don’t sap your energy by waiting too long.