I’d like to introduce you to Nacie Carson, who a few years ago took the leap, leaving the perceived safety of full time employment to become an entrepreneur. She has since built up a client base and worked hard to establish an online brand that has paid dividends. Like many of us, Nacie has strived to establish online income streams as close to passive when possible, derived from her abilities as a writer.
In this new column Nacie is going to reveal what she has learned and how she established herself transitioning from employee to online entrepreneur. - Yaro
I was surprised to find myself a little nervous, hesitant even, as I walked into my manager’s office to give him my official notice. For weeks I had planned, strategized, and laid the foundation to walk away from my 9-5 as an analyst at a financial software company to start my own entrepreneur’s journey as a freelance writer. Yet for some reason as the words tumbled out of my mouth – “I’m leaving…quitting…I’m leaving to start writing full-time” – I felt suddenly freaked.
What if it didn’t work? What if I failed miserably? What if my bank accounts slowly shriveled into empty shells and I was thrown out of my apartment and I had to live in the park under a newspaper covered in words that someone else wrote?!
As my manager looked me over (partially confused, partially amused), I focused on taking deep breaths. In the few moments of silence that followed my awkwardly delivered statement, I was able to regain my composure with a simple thought: “I’m ready for this.”
And I was. For the previous four months I had worked, plotted, and planned to make the transition from full-time employee to freelance entrepreneur as smooth and seamless as possible. I had built up a small writing client base on nights and weekends, scrimped and saved every penny I could from my salary into a “buffer fund,” and set up a home office all tricked out in a writer’s must haves (computer, printer, chocolate stash). I was ready to make the move, and a quick mental review of all I’d done to prepare put the wind back in my sails and gave me the confidence I needed to complete the “I’m quitting” meeting with a little grace.
Two weeks later, I stepped out of the office building for the last time and stepped directly into life as a self-employed individual.
From Employee To Entrepreneur
My transition from employee to entrepreneur started in November of 2007. About six months into my “big city” job after college it hit me that finance, a long commute, and working for someone else just wasn’t what I wanted from a career or for my lifestyle. Sure, the money was great and the people were very nice, but as the days and weeks passed I started to feel a persistent and nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Something just wasn’t right, and when I finally did identify the issue as my distaste for the rat race and a desire to write, a whole new crop of emotional hurdles popped up.
The nagging, doubtful part of my mind kept poking at my entrepreneurial will with scary questions:
- Everyone else has to work 9-5 for a salary, what makes you so special that you’re going to do it differently?
- You’re too young to leave the rat race, aren’t you? I mean, don’t you have to ‘pay your dues’ before you can strike out on your own?
- What makes you think you can pull this off? Who is going to hire you to write?
- Where are you even going to find clients? There are like 10,000 freelance writers out there all looking for work. Haven’t you ever heard the phrase “starving artist?”
After months of subjecting myself to such internal interrogation, I realized my passion for writing and entrepreneurship wasn’t going to be scared away by mental bullying. So I sat down and figured out the worst case scenario:
“The worst case scenario is that I can’t pay my bills as an entrepreneur and I will have to go out and get a new full-time job.”
Not “making it” as an entrepreneur was totally correctable – never giving it a shot was irreversible.
Emboldened with this new-found simplicity, I sat myself down one afternoon and started thinking about how to practically and actionably make my desire a reality.
Focusing On Finances
The first concern was money. I’m not going to lie, I’m a creature who likes her comforts, and making sure I had enough to pay my basic living expenses and enjoy my lifestyle was a concern for me. The first thing I had to do was build up a “buffer savings account” to cover my needs in the first few months of the transition. I wanted to know that I had a set amount of time to get used to the transition, grow my client base, and get a business plan in place.
With my bills, calculator, and spreadsheet in front of me I spent a perfectly gorgeous Sunday afternoon crunching numbers:
- How much did I spend a month?
- How much of that was basic living expenses (rent, food, utilities, etc)?
- How much of that was “fun money” expenses – trips to the movies, eating out, getting my hair done, traveling for pleasure, etc?
- How much of the “fun money” expenses was I willing to cut down on?
- Did I have any business start-up costs (new printer, extra phone line, etc)?
- What was the revised total cost of my life per month (basic living expenses + reduced “fun money” expenses + business start-up expenses)?
- How many months did I want saved for my buffer?
- What was the grand total?
I’m not going to lie – when the “grand total” number came out I was really disheartened and felt like it would take 100 years to save up that amount (and I want to quit now!).
But I looked at my salary, looked at my “fun money,” and made some sacrifices in the moment to give me some extra wiggle room for savings. I established a livable savings plan and had the money automatically transferred out of my salary into a savings account designated as the “buffer fund” and barely gave it another thought.
When I calculated it out, I would be able to make the transition to entrepreneur in six months based on how much I could save per month.
The delay turned out to be a blessing in disguise – during those six months of building my “buffer fund” I was able to start building a modest freelance writing client base, set up my website, and write/start to sell my first eBook.
Life After 9-5
In September of 2008, I started my journey as an entrepreneur and have never looked back. Over the years, there have been struggles, challenges, failures, and times of frustration. But there has also been euphoria, happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction. I have been able to earn a nice living pursuing my passion for writing – and thanks to affiliate sales, product launches, and a little Adsense have had months where I earned well beyond my corporate salary.
There is no doubt that an entrepreneur’s life is an exercise in adventure – but that’s what happens when you remove the strangling safety net of 9-5 security. I quit my job and lived to tell, but more importantly I’ve created and embraced a career and lifestyle that are fulfilling to me. And I’m confident that – with a little planning and a sprinkling of passion – anyone else can do the same.
Here’s to your Entrepreneur’s Journey,