I can see the wheels turning in your head. You are thinking and plotting about how great your life would be if you could do the work you’re really passionate about.
Here’s the trick. Your biggest ally in pursuing your chosen lifestyle could be the job you’re trying to leave. Stop fantasizing about telling your boss to shove it, and come back to reality. Your current employer offers several advantages to helping you start your own hustle, primarily since they pay you money now! You just need to be patient, calm, and creative.
Here are 10 ways you an use your day job to kickstart the freedom you’ve dreamed about.
1. Save Up!
Any work involves getting paid, that’s what being a pro is. If no money exchanges hands, then you’re just a hobbyist. Of course, starting your own agency, company, or service means you’re going to need some money. While Chris Guillebeau trumpets the low startup costs of today’s business world, you still need to pay the bills of simply existing (rent, food, gas). Put your self on a strict budget and begin saving. Look at what your fixed costs are (bills, basic food, etc), then scale back on your discretionary spending (movies, eating out). You will probably need 3-6 months of living expenses to get started.
2. Do the Research
As you’re planning, do extensive research about what to expect in your new venture. Read, save, and be willing to ask those who have walked the path before you! I have been continually amazed at the willingness of successful bloggers to share their story. Send them a quick email and ask the burning questions! How long did it take for you to be profitable? How many hours did you work per day? What’s the best way to build my platform of influence? How do I tell my story? The worst thing you can do is to fly in to this venture without knowing what’s in front of you. I have a list of resources that can help you get started as well.
3. Make it Work for the Employer
Ok, now it’s time to speak with your boss. Nothing against you, but most companies don’t revolve around your intrinsic happiness. They are in the business of making money, and you signed a contract stating how you would help them do that. So when you walk in to your boss’s office and give her this plan, it needs to make sense for the company. A technique I’ve found effective? Ask for less money in exchange for a little more freedom and flexibility. That will get her attention! If you’re proposing a different type of schedule, throw in an extra responsibility for yourself, i.e. You’ll work 11am-7pm, and from 5-7pm you’ll be available to answer the phone. Of course, one of the following proposals may work without this, but the lesson is that your idea needs to work for your employer first.
4. Task-Based Work
If your company is the kind of workplace that values production (who doesn’t?), approach them about shifting to a task and results based work program. You can still keep the same office hours, but you have the freedom to work on a couple side projects when you have the time. Show your boss the research on Results-Only-Work-Environments (ROWE), and you may just help change the culture of your whole company!
5. Flexible Hours
Instead of the typical 9-5, propose working 10-6, 7-3, or 12-8. Many employers are coming around to the fact that people work better at different times, and are receptive to this idea. You however, will plan your time around when it’s most productive for your personal work. Morning person? Go in to work at 10am. Night owl? Get to the office at 8am. You can’t sacrifice your effectiveness at your current job, but give yourself the most productive hour in your day. You’ll need it.
6. Work from Home
As with flex time and ROWE environments, many companies are receptive to work from home options. This is a win-win, as long as you are disciplined and don’t watch TV all day or surf the web. Work from home (or a nearby coffee shop) is solid gold for you. It’s the perfect opportunity to accomplish your existing work responsibilities, then have complete freedom to work on your own business. If you have a long commute, this could be something that suits your employer as well. Instead of spending 45 minutes on the road, getting nothing done, you could be logged in and ready to go by 8:00 am, with no additional stress! Remember though, your home is filled with distractions and little accountability, so remain disciplined.
7. Go Part-Time
Eventually, this is the next step. After you’ve been able to make a little money from your new hustle, and have a steady client base, it’s time to scale back on your soon-to-be-old job. This step is completely optional, you may want to hold on until you’re making a comparable amount in your hustle, or if you’re confident, just cut the cord. Your call. But working part-time is a great way to keep a steady income stream open while creating even more time to work on your hustle.
This is a good way to build up a client base, make a name for yourself, and get paid without having to do all the ground work. This is an era of the freelancer, and whether you’re a writer, designer, programmer, or deal in face-to-face work, freelance contracts can be a great entry method. Just make sure you trumpet this work on your website! Here are a 5 resources to get started, and TentBlogger has a great list as well.
9. Future Clients
Let’s go back to the Office Space scene you dream about, take this job and shove it style. Grow up, alright? (click to tweet this) You want to remain on positive terms with your employer, because who knows what the future holds? Another reason is that your past employer could become a future client. You could do contract or freelance work for them! The possibility is good, because can expect to receive quality work from you, and don’t have to pay you a salary! See, even after you’ve left, they are funding your new business, all because you didn’t give your boss the finger.
10. Set a Deadline
Your deadline should be a combination of research, budgeting, and work expectations. Make it reasonable, and depending on your personality, sooner or later. The reason to give yourself a deadline is accountability. Without it, you may never take the jump, and you need to take the jump! Give this same deadline to your boss, and they will in effect hold you accountable as well!
Good luck on your future work, whether it be on your own or with another company. The reason you should get up and work any morning is because you feel valued and believe in what you’re doing to contribute! A final piece of advice though.
Your own work projects won’t be 100% good times and fun stuff. There will be struggle, just like with anything else in life. But it will be your struggle and your joys (click to tweet that).
Enjoy the ride!
What else have you found to be helpful in making changes at your work? Is there another tip you’d like to share, or resources to help the switch? Please let us know!
I’ve recently launched my Speaking page, click here to check it out! There are examples of talks I’ve given, please let me know what you think, and if you’d like for me to speak to your group! Thanks for reading this essay, have a great day!
Everything I Know
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