About nine months ago, I made one of the biggest decisions I have made in my life. I decided to leave my very stable corporate marketing job to start my own business. It was scary and required I let go of my pride and attachment to my image, but it was by far one of the best decisions I’ve made.
What the Numbers are Showing
Statics show that younger generations are no longer satisfied with the typical 9am-5pm job. You will be hard-pressed to find a young adult willing to stay at the same company for more than a handful of years. At first, this seems like another dig at young people, another way to say we are lazy, uncommitted, and so on. But the new perspective on working isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it points to shifted priorities in recent generations.
Younger generations are in search of meaningful, fulfilling jobs that offer what has been coined as “work-life balance,” while older generations were satisfied with the understanding that work is what you do to get to enjoy life after hours. In the past, work was simply a means to an end. Now, work is seen as a more integral part of everyday life, and individuals want to have a say so in how their time and energy is spent. Work is no longer the boss. Instead, we want to tell our work what to do.
As younger generations are seeing it, work should be a compliment to the other aspects of life.
Why I quit my job to start my own business
There are several reasons I chose to quite my job. Bear in mind, I enjoyed my work, I loved my coworkers, and I was proud of what I was accomplishing and how far I was able to come in a short amount of time with the company. I was getting opportunities most young people don’t get like working directly with the CEO and being the point person for relationships with the city’s Chamber of Commerce. And I don’t mean any of this as a brag. It just shows that by all practical sense, I had an incredible work situation for a twenty-two year old. There was no obvious reason I should leave. And, yet, I did.
Very practically, distance from home was a big factor in causing me to leave my job. I was commuting between 30 and 45 minutes one way morning and night in big-city traffic. My shoulders were tense before I even made it to the office, and my stress levels were through the roof from traffic alone. This played a factor in me choosing to no longer work for the company I’m with, though admittedly was not necessarily a factor in me choosing to start my own business since theoretically I could have just moved to a job closer to home.
This one is a biggie. I was so stressed out at night from work that I didn’t even have the energy to do other things I enjoyed. I spent so much effort doing a good job at work that I didn’t have anything left in me to be a decent human to the people I love most. I carried around the weight of ongoing projects and to-do lists no matter how much I attempted to “leave the office at work.” Additionally, the stress of office relationships was a lot for me. At any given point, someone may or may not have been happy with me….and I was one of the more agreeable people in the office, plus I worked independently the majority of the time. And there is something about knowing that the job will never end that got to me. It was this looming, never ending sort of stress. It was there before I arrived and would be there after I was gone for as long as the company exists.
My job left me emotionally, mentally, and physically drained at the end of the day. I didn’t like feeling like I had nothing left to give to the parts of my life that I loved the most.
From what I’ve seen over the course of my life, every person works in their own unique way and at their own unique pace. I myself am a morning person. Everything seems bright, and I can crank work out like there is no tomorrow. In fact, I’ve found that by about noon I’ve completed a day’s worth of work. And this isn’t just a self-assessment, I’ve had peers and superiors comment the same thing. Forcing an eight hour work day on myself was taxing.
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Why then, if everyone is different, does an office function on a strict 8:00am to 5:00pm schedule? Because that’s the way the world works. That’s when people need information or assistance. It’s when it makes the most sense to have all hands on deck.
Still, though, the hours didn’t work for me because in my line of work, my tasks for the most part can be completed at any time of day and it makes no difference. For myself, a flexible schedule works best because I can choose how long and when to work each day. Some days I put in well over eight hours, other days, I’m able to prioritize family or an activity I had planned. Some days I wake up first thing and get my work done by lunch. Other days I take my time a little more and tackle laundry between tasks. The bottom line is, I like setting my own schedule.
Office politics is something I definitely don’t miss. There is a lot of stress attached to who said what, who answers to whom and so on. Furthermore, I noticed that many times tenure was measured more valuable than talents or character when it came to promotion, being reprimanded, and such. Whether it should be this way or not is not for me to say, but I personally found it frustrating. As a young person and a self-started with a lot of passion and an affinity for getting things done, I hoped to have more traction for forward and/or upward movement with the company I was with. But that’s not the way things work in the corporate world.
I really loved the people I worked with at my job, but the office politics of it all made things difficult. There are underlying competitions, past hurts, unmet or exceeded expectations that somehow got in the way of the tasks at hand. For me, that was an unnecessary distraction and stress.
One thing I lacked a lot while I was working my office job was peace. I felt tossed to and fro by the whims of the company or my coworkers. And it was hard to get work off my mind at the end of the day. I very rarely felt settled or focused. Instead, each day found my mind and heart in more disarrays. I hardly could find the time to spend quiet time for myself, and when I did, it was as though I was bringing myself up from a negative to just level zero – I was never really reaching new levels in my peace or in my relationship with God and personal growth. My mind was run by work instead of the other way around. Work is a tough task master. For many, a typical office-type job may work fine and they may be able to run it well. For myself, I found that my work was running me instead of me facing each day with strength and peace.
Family and Values
Above all else, the reason I chose to quit my job was because my family and values were more important to me than the feeling of status my job gave me. The truth is, because of my job, I had less time and energy for the people and activities I cared about significantly more. My family got the last drops of me, got my frustration and tiredness while my work got my energy and best parts of my day. I didn’t have the time energy or time to focus on Church or to spend in quiet time, learning and growing.
I have always desired for home to be the epicenter of my family’s life, a safe refuge, a place of peace and joy, and refreshment. And it wasn’t able to be that anymore while I spent so much time at work and worried about work. When I decided to leave my job to start my own business, home became the epicenter again. I can now prioritize chores and keeping things clean and tidy which brings peacefulness to me. I can now focus on creating an environment my husband wants to come home to. I can put a business task on hold to take care of a family matter or take care of myself. I can keep my energy reserved for the things and people that truly matter most.
Keys to starting your own business
As nice as it sounds to quit your job to start your own business, there are a few keys that need to be in place first. It certainly isn’t a walk in the park to start your own business, and it doesn’t look like trying to become and influencer or anything like that. You may be thinking “but I’m reading your blog!” But my blog is not my business. My business is marketing and communications. Blogging is something extra I get to do for fun if I choose to. I’m not an influencer, I’m a business woman.
So, here’s a few things you need to have in place to make the big leap to start your own business.
Be clear about what you want to do
Make sure you know exactly what you plan to do in your business. The more specific you get, the better. It’s not enough to know you want to start a business. And it won’t be enough to think you can post on social media and be raking in the gold. You will need to find something that is marketable to the people and community around you. Remember, you are looking to fill a need with some sort of product or business. That should always be your top priority – filling a need. Home in on what you want to do before you do anything else. Often times, the entrepreneur types have a lot of ideas. Pick one. And then run it past some people in your life (and not just all yes-men…maybe ask more than just your mom, unless your mom is prone to being brutally honest with you when needed). Get your plan down on paper. Know the product or service your offering, who your target audience is, and why you are doing what you are doing.
Start your business before you quit your job
Before you turn in your two weeks notice, give your new business a little bit of a go. Find someone willing to try your product or service. Get a few customers under your belt. Make sure you enjoy what you are thinking about doing and that you are able to complete it to the standard you want. Gauge your first few customers to see how they liked your work. Put your business plan to the test before diving in headfirst.
Have a home office setup/supplies and tools you’ll need
Every business has its own set of supplies, its own unique set up that it requires. You don’t have to have all the industry’s latest gadgets, but you do want to make sure you have what you need to get started. Will your business be online heavy? Make sure you have a good laptop of your own and perhaps a second monitor if you think having a couple of screens would be a benefit. Will you be doing design work? Consider investing in the Adobe Suite of products. Creating a tangible product to sell? Make sure you have the supplies and workspace you will need to create your product.
Relationships are key to launching a successful business. You may not like feeling like your friends and family are doing you a favor by being your first customers or by referring their colleagues or friends to you, but that’s the way the world works. You have to get started somewhere. Utilize social media to advertise to the connections you’ve made there. Post on bulletin boards or spread the word in your community.
My first big client (who I am still working with actively to this day) was referred to me by a family member who met this person through a business connection. Now, that client is a great reference for me and has recommended me to other potential clients. I also have had my own personal past business connections reach out to me to complete projects for them. It all starts with working the relationships you’ve got and then building on them to create more. Relationships are the best way to build your client base.
Have the right personality and skillset
Here’s the cold hard truth. Not everyone is cut out to start their own business and work from home, and there’s nothing wrong with that! We need people in our offices, in retail and service, behind telephones and computers making our world spin round. If you do plan to quit your job to start your own business, though, you need to have a few personality traits in place.
You should be
- Bold and tenacious
- A Self-Started/Internally motivated
- Okay with being alone for extended lengths of time
- Able to take rejections and criticism
- A critical thinker
- Always teachable
Some entrepreneurs who dropped everything to pursue their dreams may beg to differ with me on this, but financial stability is key to starting your own business. That’s why many people today work full or part time and also run a side-hustle. Whether you build up a strong savings account as a buffer in case you don’t pull the numbers you’re hoping for or if you and your spouse decide to live off of one income so the other can build his/her business, having some sort of stable financial foundation will allow you to start your own business with less stress and more focus on your business goals. Take a look at your monthly expenses and determine the income needed to cover those and allow you some wiggle room to live your life and/or build on savings. From there, you can start making wise financial decisions for you and your family as you move into starting your own business.
Every Journey To Starting Your Own Business is Different
Everyone’s journey is unique when it comes to starting your own business, so don’t be afraid to chart your own path. My business started as a side hustle. Another individual I am close to began his business (which is now very successful with business bursting at the seams) when the company he was working for was in a rocky place with an unsure future. He started his business to get through the couple of weeks the company he worked for was struggling but found he could make more money on his own with his business than he could working for his employer. Still another individual I know dove in head first and bought her own shop to start a boutique – now bustling with customers in store and online – a dream she’d had for years.
Whatever your journey looks like, make your life work for you. Find what brings joy and peace into your life and pursue that. It will be so very worth it.