What I Learned After Quitting my Corporate Job to Pursue my Dream
Six months ago I was living the dream. I had spent years working my way up the ranks of a mid-size company and was finally at the level I wanted to be. I had a flexible sales job that paid me a six-figure salary with generous bonuses to sell a service that was in high demand. I dictated my travel schedule and would plan meetings so that I could see friends who lived in different cities. I took clients to fancy dinners on my corporate credit card. I worked from home and could sleep in until 9am and call it quits by 5pm most days. But…I wasn’t happy. My heart wasn’t in it. I was grateful for the opportunity but menial tasks became so monotonous they were painful and every day felt like an eternity. You see I had been planning to leave my job for over a year to pursue a career in nutrition, and I was itching to make the jump. I was already more than halfway done with my Master’s program and knew it was time to take the leap. So I did. I am happy to report that although I’m still somewhat in the thick of it, I have come out alive, and can confirm that yes, it’s worth it. Here are 5 things I learned in pursuit of making my side hustle my main game
1. Give yourself a strict budget.
In my last quarter as a Sales Manager I got a huge bonus. By huge I mean it was almost as much as my base salary and I should have been able to live off that alone for almost a year. This financial security was the primary reason I felt confident about leaving my job. Cut to me paying off my school loans and taking a couple fancy vacations, and my bank account had tumbleweeds rolling through it just 3 months into my entrepreneurial adventure. Moral of the story; get clear on your expenses, set a budget, and stick to it.
2. Know what motivates you.
Quitting your job is a great way to get to know yourself. I mean really get to know your strengths, weaknesses, internal dialogue, and most importantly your motivations. What I learned after months of not being able to accomplish the majority of what I set out to do, and then serendipitously being told to read Gretchen Ruben’s The Four Tendenices for my internship, is that I am an Obliger. I excel at meeting outer expectations (deadlines from my boss or deliverables for clients) but fall short when trying to meet expectations I set for myself. I function best when I have external accountability because I never want to let others down. Understanding this has significantly improved my professional and personal life. Read this book, and understand what drives you so you can set yourself up for success.
3. Get ready to hustle.
Of course you know you’re going to have to hustle, but now you’ll have more free time because you’re quitting your soul-sucking job, right? Wrong. Now that you’ve taken the leap, the pressure is on. You will spend nights and weekends working and studying and still be just as stressed as when you had your full time job. Happier, but just as stressed. Give yourself realistic expectations that more time just means more time spent on pursuing your dream. Your friends, and parties, and happy hours will be there when you come out on the other side, so keep you head down and keep going.
4. Network like it’s your job.
Regardless of what industry you’re in there are people who have done it (or something like it before) and can provide valuable guidance. Find these people. Take them out for coffee, corner them at happy hour, DM them on Instagram. etc. Their insights can save you tremendous time and money and most people are happy share their wisdom. Additionally, network with newbie entrepreneurs like yourself. It helps to have friends that really understand your challenges so they can both commiserate and celebrate with you.
5. Invest in yourself.
While you work on honing your craft whatever that may be, remember that you are your most valuable asset. Don’t be afraid to invest time and money into yourself, as well as your business. Becoming more efficient, more organized, or better public speaker will significantly help your business no matter what you’re selling. Take some online classes or hire a business coach. Your future self will thank you.