How I Prepared To Quit My Job
I still remember the day I realized I didn't want to work my normal job anymore. I had lost every bit of love I had for it. I still loved the people but all I could think about was pursuing more clients for my side hustle when I was suppose to be managing social media accounts. I talk to people all the time who want to ditch the full-time job to become a full-time business owner but just don't know how to transition. I didn't know much about how to run a business, pay taxes, or budget an income that constantly fluctuates but I could figure it out. I knew if I prepared enough, that I could always head back to 9-5 America if I fell flat on my face.
FINANCIALLY PREPARING TO BE ON MY OWN
I figured out my personal bottomline so that I knew exactly how much I needed to make each month in order to pay my bills and feed myself (very important). You can read more about finding your bottomline, as well as budgeting an inconsistent income, here.
I saved three months of my bottomline so that if I fell flat on my face, I had a few months to find a new job and not put myself into debt! Emergency accounts are everything in my opinion, it means you can make decisions without looming stress.
I sat down and reevaluated my pricing. I took into consideration my bottomline, my business costs, and how much I wanted to be making. I needed my pricing to support me now. It was going to be my whole income which meant I needed to charge more. I had been pricing myself at $100 per hour of shooting time, which meant after editing, emailing clients, marketing, etc. I was only making $20 an hour and that was BEFORE taxes and costs. In reality I was making about $10 an hour which wasn't going to cut it. I decided to make the bump to $300 per hour of shooting. Best decision I ever made.
I researched what taxes were like in my state and prepared to put 30% of each check I received straight into a savings account in order to prepare for April 15th the following year. I found a CPA I loved and trusted. She helped me decide how I wanted to structure my business legally, including finding a lawyer to write my LLC and a bank to open a business account with. She also guided me to Quickbooks Online, which meant bookkeeping was a breeze.
Lastly, I scheduled ahead. It was the end of October 2016 when I started to prepare to go full-time and my goal was to have ten weddings booked for the 2017 season. If I had weddings and sessions booked ahead of time, I had guaranteed income. This meant that I wouldn't have to dip into my emergency account right away if it didn't go how I hoped!
PREPARING A BETTER WORKFLOW
I organized and prepared a separate workspace. Okay, I actually didn't, but do what I say and not what I do. I spent way too long working from my couch and bed. What I should have done is get a desk that was functional and a chair I could sit and edit in with some semblance of decent posture. This is so important. I finally did this and it completely changed my workflow and efficiency.
I reworked my branding to make sure I had a clear message. I wanted people to see my name and think wedding photographer. This included putting together a pricing guide pdf for my 2017 season that I could send to potential brides. I also created new business cards to hand out to every human I made eye contact with.
I got all of my contracts in order. If you're searching for a photography contract suite that has it all I recommend buying Laurken Kendall's collection. They cover all the important things and have already been lawyer approved. After I got my contracts written up I found a system that organized all my clients information (contracts included!) in one place. For me this is Honeybook. Life changing. I can't say enough good things.
Basically, I got my ducks in a row. The moment I went full-time I was so busy hustling for more photo jobs and networking I didn't have time to dedicate to the other stuff. While you're still at your job (or in school, if you're amazing like that) start preparing. It will ease stress and let you focus on the important stuff. Making your clients happy by providing the best product possible.
CHANGING MY MENTALITY
I changed my view on failure. I now challenge everyone I meet to flip their perspective too because in my opinion jumping and falling isn't failure, it's a lesson. In my eyes, the person who is failing is the one who isn’t trying to jump at all. I prepared myself to fail. I know this sounds counter-productive but accepting I could fail was huge for me. I didn't have to worry about falling because I already made peace with the idea it could happen, and I had a plan for how I would get back up and try again.
I accepted that my friends and family may not understand what I was doing. Everyone wants the support of their loved ones but sometimes it just doesn't happen. I was fortunate that the people around me encouraged me but before even talking with them I was ready to accept their reaction, regardless of what it was.
I started getting ready to leave my job in October 2016 and it took me about four months of saving and preparing! It meant cutting back on some things but looking back it gave me the perfect safety cushion that allowed me to take risks that otherwise would have been too scary! If you're considering taking your side hustle full-time I hope you leave this little part of the internet remembering one thing, falling isn't failing. Take the chance.