Publisher Note: This piece was originally titled, Gut Check! 3 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Full-time Job for Your Part-time Business
It’s 6:00 p.m. You’re dead tired, but instead of an early night, you go to your second job — your freelance business.
Between meeting an impending deadline, logging deposits into your accounting system and marketing to new clients, it will be well past midnight before you can even think of going to bed. And, this doesn’t include time out for helping the kids with homework, fixing dinner and addressing household duties. How much longer can you keep this up, you wonder?
If this sounds familiar, maybe it’s time to quit your job and focus on your business full-time.
One of the best ways to ensure success as a business owner is to start part-time, while holding a full- time job. However …
How do You Know When It’s Time to Let Go of Your FT Job to Freelance Full-Time?
The following checklist will help you decide if it’s time to make the leap from employee to full-time business owner.
1. Money: If you started your business part-time with the intention of one day quitting your full-time job, then that plan should have included setting income aside for this day.
Do you have six months to one year of expenses set aside? Is your business bringing in steady income? If you were able to devote 15-20 more hours per week to it, could you at least double what it brings in now?
Looking back over one to two years of numbers should give you enough data to do some smart (read, conservative) projections. Don’t have at least 12 months of income data to look at? Then my advice is not to quit – unless the business is exceeding all expectations and you are really raking in the profits.
Bottom line: If you have six to twelve months worth of expenses set aside and won’t have to depend on your business to pay you anything during this period, then maybe it’s time to consider quitting, or at least switching roles (ie, working your job part-time and your business full-time).
2. Time: Does your business take up more than four hours a day of your time? Do you find yourself always having more to do with the business than a full-time job allows? Do you work six to seven days a week just to stay on top of orders, inventory, accounting, advertising, etc.?
If this is true and you see sales increase as a result of your efforts, then maybe it’s time to make the move.
Note: As a small business owner, there is always something to be done. However, you must see increased sales as a result of your efforts before you even begin to think about quitting your job.
A majority of what small business owners do in the startup phase does not result in increased sales – ie, setting up ordering procedures, making samples, writing press releases, etc. Wait until your efforts start to produce actual income before quitting. That’s the joy of starting part-time, you can grow at your own pace.
3. Quality of Life: If the quality of your life is suffering because there are only 24 hours in the day and you need 56, then it’s definitely time to consider quitting.
If you’re working all the time, not spending time with family and friends, then both streams of income will start to suffer. If your small business has been on training wheels for a while, then maybe it’s time to take them off and see how she does on her own.
What exactly does this mean? It means that you get up and put in a solid 8, 9, 10 hours (at least) a day to get her to the next level. If you decide to make a go of your business full-time, then this is where the gloves come off. This is where the real work comes in.
Here are some general guidelines to observe as you make the transition.
Leave your job on good terms: That means handing in proper notice, offering to train a replacement, be on call for finishing up any special projects – whatever it takes to let your previous employer know that you are a professional and won’t leave them in the lurch.
After all, you never know if/when you will need to return, or if your company will be able to refer clients or become a client themselves.
Prioritize: Managing yourself is a lot harder than being under someone else’s tutelage. Develop the habit of writing a list of things to be accomplished. What works for me is at the end of every day, writing in my day planner what I need to accomplish the following day. It usually doesn’t work out that way, but at least I have a plan if I start to stray, or feel like, “Now what do I do?”
Eat right and exercise: After all, if you don’t take care of yourself, it jeopardizes everything you are trying to accomplish.