I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit since the very beginning of my childhood. From selling bracelets at school to hawking cookies at yard sales, I’ve always wanted to make a living on my own.
In 2020, I was working a full-time position at my local library, a job that barely paid the bills. I started picking up work on the side to make ends meet — one or two writing assignments here or there, sometimes full articles. I enjoyed what I did at the library, and the people who worked there, but I found I liked writing even more.
So when my side hustle started to make more money than my day job, I stood at a crossroad. Could I actually start a business on my own?
At 23, I felt more than a little inexperienced. I didn’t know anyone else my age who opened their own business, and I wasn’t even sure where to begin. But I sat down over the summer to compare the pros and cons of launching a business, and determined where to go from there. Here’s what I took into consideration before making the leap:
I had a full client base
My side hustle was bringing in plenty of income, with the potential for more. In fact, I was turning away clients just to maintain a work-life balance! I knew there was no limit to the number of clients I could pick up if I went full time, and that I could start growing my customer list without stressing about finding more.
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In terms of stress, remember the difference between healthy stress and damaging stress. Being stressed about launching a business is very real (and very normal). However, stress about money, clients, or growth opportunities is a red flag. If you don’t think you can grow your business enough to make the same salary as your current job, don’t make the switch just yet. In my case, I was already making more on the side than at my full time job, simplifying the decision process.
Because I knew the work was steady, I felt that making the jump to a full-time business would be much less scary than trying to build up a part-time passion project. I was basically working two full-time jobs. Quitting my hourly job would allow me to focus more on my clients, scaling up my business further.
I had a full emergency fund
For the unknown and unexpected, I stocked an emergency fund with six months’ worth of expenses. This broadly included rent, food, and insurances, without any bells and whistles. If I ran into financial hardship, I could comfortably survive for six months (or 12 on a shoestring budget) while sorting things out.
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Truthfully, emergency funds can be any size as long as they work with your budget and needs. For me, the savings started small — just a few dollars here and there. As my revenue increased, I set aside 25% of my income every month, and calculated the amount of money I spent on the bare necessities to survive (i.e. rent, food, and insurance). The emergency fund was designed to keep me alive and functional, not necessarily comfortable.
With my emergency account fully stocked, I was much less intimidated about walking away from my full-time salary. Having a solid emergency fund (and thereby financial independence) was one of the biggest pushes to start on my business journey. I imagine it could be the same for you.
I spoke with wise counsel
I didn’t want to make a milestone decision like this in a vacuum, so I reached out to people I trust — namely my parents, close friends, and business acquaintances both inside and outside the writing industry.
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Talking things out was unbelievably helpful! Not only did it force me to face new considerations like tax brackets and LLC paperwork, but it encouraged me to take the business jump with confidence.
I created a backup plan
If my business didn’t work out, where would I go? I created a roster of additional opportunities if the worst transpired. There were full-time employment options available, as well as smaller contract work until I landed a more permanent position. If my business folded, I could pivot on a dime.
I thought hard about my future
Would I still want to run my own business in a year? Two years? What about a decade? I needed to decide if my business would fit into the future I desired.
Since owning a business was my passion from an early age, it didn’t take long for me to feel sure it was the right decision.
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On June 8, 2021, I woke up to my first day of being my own boss. Despite all my preparations, I was still concerned. Was I too young and inexperienced to make it work?
Almost six months later (and with plenty of failsafes), I can safely say that my business has been thriving. I’m learning along the way, and finding new ways to grow my skills and business acumen. Today, I’m living my childhood dream!
If entrepreneurship is the route you choose to go, you’ve got this! Even for someone at the start of their professional life, it’s more than possible to achieve. Continue refining your skills and talents. Create an emergency fund to protect you, just in case. Then, trust that you have what it takes to make it happen.