One of my biggest dreams in recent years has been to leave my day job as chief marketing officer of a company to run my consulting business full-time. That day is coming very soon, two weeks from the writing of this post.
Perhaps you’ve also wanted to “make the leap”, so here are a few recommendations based on my journey.
1. Set hard-and-fast financial goals.
The first thing my wife and I agreed upon was that my “side-hustle” income would have to at least match my day job income … for three consecutive months.
Oof, that was hard.
For one thing, my job was the highest-paying salary I had ever earned. Secondly, the hours were an issue. How was I supposed to out-earn my full-time job (sometimes 50+ hours a week) on leftover hours?
This criteria forced me to be extremely focused. I zeroed in on only the top 20% of activities that would yield 80% of the income I needed to earn.
My job acclimated me to financial goals, metrics, and performance, so having business goals wasn’t uncomfortable … it was just challenging to pull off. In retrospect, this experience forced me to view my blog, podcast, and personal brand as a business — not a hobby.
So, how did I pull off the three-month streak?
2. Tap into resourcefulness (not just resources).
I actually out-earned my day job in October and November of 2014 — but tanked in December 2014. I attribute this to being really busy at work, and also to freelance opportunities being slow around the holiday season.
But I didn’t just “fall short” in December — my side-income nearly came to a halt. That was a big warning sign.
I was missing “passive income” sources — eBooks, online training courses, and affiliate commissions — that would have allowed me to make money around the clock.
Yet creating those products would require considerable time, which I didn’t have much of to begin with. The only alternative was to get more time … by “pushing it” with my day job.
Success requires more than just resources — it requires resourcefulness. That means ethically utilizing any and every advantage you have.
Time to push my luck:
In January of 2015, I asked my company to let me work part-time. This was really pushing it — how many people in the ‘C-suite’ work part-time, right?
Whatever. I just went for it. The famous quote by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky came to mind: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
My standing with the company was an advantage; my role wasn’t quick and easy to replace. They agreed to cut my time by two days a week — without lowering my salary!
I negotiated this because we had another advantage: my wife took a new job which covered our health insurance, so my company would save considerably by taking us off their health plan.
For most of 2015, I worked 3 to 4 days per week in the office, which allowed me to spend more time creating passive income sources and take more demanding (and higher paying) client projects.
My situation was unique, but the purpose was the same: to get more time. You can’t wait either — you have to find time where you can before these kind of breaks happen. I was carving out time way before I went “part-time” at work — recording podcasts at 4:00am, dictating blog posts into my iPhone while on my commute, watching blogging videos during lunch break, and more.
In fact, I heard Michael Hyatt once say he wrote one of his best-selling books while still working full-time as CEO of Thomas Nelson. He woke up before work to write! I thought to myself, “If that’s what it takes to get where he is, I’m willing to pay the price.”
If the struggle is real, your hustle better be real, too.
Utilize any and all advantages at your disposal — especially when it comes to finding more time.
3. Experiment with various income streams.
There are many ways someone can earn income in the personal brand space: coaching, consulting, speaking, products, and more. The important thing is to find out what you enjoying doing most — before you make the leap.
I discovered some surprising things. For example:
#1 – I enjoy working with personal brands the most. I deal directly with the decision-maker, and change happens quickly. Working with small businesses takes more time because of middle-management, and it drove me nuts.
#2 – I don’t miss live audiences as much as I anticipated. For much of my career, I’ve been in front of people — either speaking or performing music. When I started my podcast, speaking to a non-live audience was weird! I’m used to it now, and that has allowed me to focus and NOT aggressively pursue public speaking. Sometimes less is more.
Try out various means of income while you still have the safety of your day job. To experiment with this after you’ve made the leap is a recipe for disaster.
4. Create predictable income for your first 3 months.
It’s one thing to tap into various income streams, but you need predicatable income sources especially for the first quarter of your new venture.
For me, I started various coaching cohorts for viability. I tested and my first cohort about a year ago, ran a few more since, and helped attain great results for clients. Now the plan is to market my coaching more widely.
Another possibility: convert your company into a client.
Not everyone has a day job aligned with their dream job. If you do, offer your services as a consultant. Take a shot!
My company put me on a retainer to train people once a week for six months after I step down, and I will receive additional fees for any marketing work I perform. Since this income is predictable and measureable, I can make legitimate projections for the first two quarters of my business. All I had to do was ask.
5. Get mentored by those who have actually done it.
There’s a wealth of free content out there. While this is wonderful, it can also lull you into thinking that personal growth and business development will not cost you anything.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
To go to the next level, you must invest in yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with. I’ve made several uncomfortable investments over the past three years, particularly in mastermind groups, coaching calls, and conferences. Each time, these investments paid off exponentially.
There are too many people trying to grow big with seeds that cost them nothing.
Investments entail risk. Investments can be scary. But investing in the right soil can reap huge returns. Good news: when you invest in yourself, you dictate the returns — because you are the soil! The market is fixed!
If you’re not sure whether to invest in a course, coach, or consultant, check out this post.
So, what’s next?
I’m going to take all my corporate marketing experience to further serve people looking to make a career pivot and build a personal brand business.
I’m also going to do more for folks in the non-profit space and write my first book on marketing and personal branding.
For now, the next few blog posts will be spent sharing further insights on making the leap so make sure to stay tuned.
My final thought for today is best summed up in something Steve Harvey said: “Dreams are free, the hustle is sold separately.”
If you’re looking to make the leap, keep hustling, stay in the right frame of mind, and keep chipping away at it. I’m confident your day will come!
Have any questions on making the leap? Leave a comment, I’d be happy to answer.
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