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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
It’s THE dream right? To leave your day job behind and work for yourself in your own business, but figuring out how to actually do that is a confusing and overwhelming process. There’s no one perfect checklist with all the answers on exactly what to do to finally break free from your day job and be your own boss a.k.a the ultimate freedom!
Four years ago I was completely burnt out at my day job working super long hours, rarely taking time off and ultimately feeling super unfilled and frustrated by my career. I knew I wanted the freedom of running my own business, but I had no idea how to actually achieve that. Fast forward to today I’ve been full-time in my own business for almost three full years and not only replaced my past salary, but increased it!
Here are the things I shifted to make my dream a reality and say goodbye to the traditional 9 to 5 once and for all!
This is by far the most important thing I did. I picked ONE specific number that I was aiming for to quit my day job. Prior to this I had spent the last seven years being super fuzzy and unclear about what I actually needed to make in order to quit my day job. I kept telling myself that I just needed to replace my day job salary and then I could go full-time, but I was never specific about what that number actually was.
Once I picked a real number, it took me three months to hit it. Getting specific is super powerful, but how do you know how much you need to make before you can leave your job? Your number is going to depend on a lot of different factors such as the savings you have and the amount of risk you’re comfortable with.
My number ended up being $1,500 – which might seem super low to you and that’s ok! There’s a huge chance your number needs to be higher. Personally for me, $1,500 was the right number that felt doable, would cover all necessary expenses with some money left over and I knew that if I could make $1,500 a month I could easily double it if I wasn’t working another job and could fully focus on my business.
I had the huge benefit of having a working husband who was able to bring in the bulk of our income while I grew my business. We also had no debt and a pretty hefty emergency fund which made taking the leap a lot easier.
Spoiler alert: This is a bit of controversial advice. When I first started thinking and exploring what owning my own business would look like, it felt like every single course, blog post and podcasts hounded into my head that you HAD to have a super specific niche before you could make money and start a business.
Niches are super important and really valuable as your business grows, but focusing on finding the perfect niche early on in your business is honestly a waste of time. You just don’t know who you like to work with, how you like to work and what you like to do until you actually do it. I spent years brainstorming and trying to map out the perfect business. During that time I made very little traction on actually making money. When I gave up on having the perfect plan and started saying yes to new opportunities that’s when my business started to thrive.
Your niche will evolve naturally. You don’t have to know it all from the beginning.
Working a full-time job and trying to grow a business is really hard! Most jobs leave you drained and exhausted at the end of the day with little time leftover to bootstrap your business. One of the best things I ever did for my business was to set daily office hours and show up as much as possible.
I blocked off 7pm-9pm on my calendar everyday and set reminders everywhere to remind me to actually sit down and do something for my business. There were still days where it didn’t happen. I would get stuck late at my day job or have something else come up, but the times I was able to show up were hugely powerful to growing my business.
Find a way to block off regular time on your calendar to grow your business. Treat it like a part-time job and focus on showing up consistently.
I’m not the type of person who can leap without some sort of a safety net. I knew that if I was going to leave the comfort of a full-time regular job that consistently paid me I would need emergency savings to fall back on just in case. Prior to going full-time, I focused on building as much savings as possible and cutting back on monthly expenses.
I didn’t end up needing these savings as my income continued to grow after making the leap, but having a nice safety net really helped my mindset in the early days of my business.
Going full-time in your business is really scary and there’s a lot to figure out! My husband and I started having real conversations about what our lives would actually look like when I went full-time in business. What would we do for my health insurance? How would we save for retirement once I no longer had a 401K? What expenses were we willing to cut out to give my business some space to grow?
A lot of people get freaked out the things you have to figure out as a self-employed person. I often see people who dream of starting their own business but refuse to even try because they are so worried about figuring out health insurance and paying taxes. It’s all do-able and there are a ton of resources and options online to help you figure it all out. The key is starting to take action and creating an actual plan. Without real conversations and research your brain will forever be stuck in overwhelm mode and try to convince you starting a business isn’t realistic.
Leaving your day job and making money in your own business is ABSOLUTELY possible. For years I limited myself thinking that working for myself was a nice dream, but not something I could ever actually do. You’ll never see results and never feel like it’s possible until you start taking action. Start with the small things and take it step-by-step. You can do this!