Deciding when to go full time in your business and is it worth it?
It took a few years, a lot of conversations, deep thought and MANY words of encouragement from my family, e.g. all of my parents wondering why I was taking so long to make the leap.
I was scared. Scared It could have been a bad decision to leave a job of security, guaranteed pay checks and full health care for my husband and me. What if I didn’t book? I can’t get back what I had if I leave. Once I make the jump, that’s it. I have a mortgage, a living and my mental stress levels to keep at bay. Those were the thoughts that kept me in a job that had me coming home crying for so long. Those were the thoughts that had my anxiety high every week while waiting to to see if management would indeed keep their word of my set schedule they had promised. Most of the time, not so much.
There was one day I remember in particular, this same scenario. I had multiple weddings coming up, doctors appointments to be at with my mother who just underwent brain surgery and to top it off, some lady yelled at me for something I can’t quite recall but I’m sure it was about her groceries. (I worked at Safeway in produce and as a checker) I walked outside, sat on the curb in front of the store, stared at my shifts that had me working on each of the days I needed off and cried. I called Adam and told him that I couldn’t do it any more. At that moment is when I knew that there was a choice that had to be made. I had to make the choice to be great at ONE thing than be good at both. I had to either give up my passion and continue in a secure job, where I would most likely stay stagnate OR take all my fear of failing, toss it aside and take that giant leap of faith to follow my dreams that had a possibility of yes, failing or even better, growth.
The following day after phone calls to all of my parents ( It was important to me to make sure they supported me in my decision) I turned in a written letter of resignation. Within a year in a half of being a full time photographer I have grown as a person, I have cried much much less and I have exceeded immensely in the amount of growth and profit in my business than I predicted.
You might be wondering how can a small photography boutique who specializes in only a certain area of photography make a living. Yes, it limits me in how many freelance jobs I take BUT It makes me more valuable because people want YOU when they know YOU know your stuff. When you specialize in one thing you are more likely to be called for the job rather then the company who is what I call the wall-mart photographer. The photographer who does it all. Like I mentioned before It’s better to be great at one thing than good at both.
Your next question might be would it be possible for me to do that? Yes, and I’ll tell you why. The biggest change I see from when I worked at Safeway and ran my business to now, only running my business is TIME. I have SO much more time. With that time I’m able to shoot more. Before I would have been working Monday – Friday at Safeway. Now I’m able to use those day’s and shoot elopements and or City Hall Weddings as well as Engagements. I am able to spend more time on marketing and blogging (like I’m doing now) Which in the long run WILL bring in more business. One of the things that matters MOST to me, is I am able to have the time to give more attention to my clients which makes them feel value as well as cared for. When your clients are happy they will share your name and that will bring in more business. Even if it’s two years later. The more amount of time you can put into something means the more profit you will eventually make. Just remember, you can’t sit and wait for it. Becoming your own boss can at times be hard. You have to actually WORK to make your dreams a reality.
So you are deciding to go full time in your own business and wondering, is it worth it? Yes, a thousand times YES. But how will you know you are ready and when should you make the leap? For me it was that point I encountered that I talked about above. I was already booking clients to the max that I could given the time I had. Then came the moment that I could no longer try to get 30 hours out of a 24 hour day. I mentally and physically could not endure the stress any longer of splitting my self in half and trying to please my employer and my clients. It just wasn’t possible. I could no longer be good at both things. I had to be great at one. I didn’t have any extra time for business development let alone anything personal. I also didn’t have the strength left to continue to let my body stress. It was making me physically ill. I HAD to pick ONE. I had already owned my business for 4 years. While working 40 hours a week else where. My business was growing to a point where I needed all the time I was spending at my other job to get things done. My business began to become static because I could no longer take one new projects.
I realize that some of you reading this may have very recently ventured into entrepreneurship, and you truly do not feel that you can let go of your 9-5 for your business yet but you would like to set goals to get there a few I would recommend would be: Sit down and look at your bookings or sales and make a projection of what you can make if you give it your all while still working your other job and how long it will take to make net income equal too or greater than what you are making at your current place of employment, set a quit date near the time you projected being able to make that income. Have a savings account for backup. Once in a while you can never truly predict the amount of business you will bring in. It CAN and WILL fluctuate. Maybe by a little bit or maybe by a lot depending on multiple factors like the economy, or how much hustle are you putting into advertising marketing and relationships? Some of these thing take a little time to build. Having a savings to use as a buffer while you are making sure all the pieces fall together is a good idea. It would be ideal to have at least 3 months income in savings to use for all living expenses to cover any transitional time or back up. 6 months is even better but 3 is a good start.
If you have owned your growing business for a while and still trying to maintain other jobs, you WILL come to a day that you yourself will have that moment. The moment you sit on the curb and cry and realize that this is it. You need to pick because you can not go forward mentally or physically. You may not have had it yet, but IT WILL come. IF you are now where I was a year in a half ago, sitting on that curb crying from the stress of trying to be too many things and scared to let it go, my friend, I say to you, please know that the scariest moment is always right before you start.