One of the most exciting milestones for any solopreneur is getting to the point where they’re ready to quit your 9 to 5 job… and work as a full-time home-based business owner. The mistake that many solopreneurs make? Quitting their 9 to 5 jobs without a strategic plan in place for doing it in the most effective way possible.
Here’s the thing: if you give your two weeks’ notice and start working from home full-time without a strategic plan in place, you’re going to run into problems like:
- not knowing how to work from home productively,
- not having a financial buffer and roster of clients, and/or
- not having an actionable schedule for how you will make the best use of your time after you’ve quit your day job.
What that all translates into is a hot mess of a business. That doesn’t sound like much fun, now does it? After all, you don’t want to quit your day job, only to feel overwhelmed by the work-from-home life!
And you REALLY don’t want to get so stuck that you have to backpedal and and return to the 9 to 5 life. (Which, sadly, is what inevitably happens to many solopreneurs if they don’t prepare themselves for working from home full-time. It happened to me the first time I tried to go full-time with my business, too!)
Don’t worry — I’ve got you covered!
Here are 5 crucial things you need to do BEFORE you quit your 9 to 5 job…
1. Create a Business Plan
Having a business plan will lay the foundation for your business. Think of your business plan as the anchor for your business: it should be an organic, living document that you refer to frequently for direction when you’re choosing what to focus on next with your business.
Your business plan doesn’t need to be anything super complex or filled with fancy jargon. In fact, you should keep it SIMPLE and to the point.
In your business plan, you’ll want to include things like:
- Vision/mission statement
- Business goals (I recommend 3-month, 6-month, 1-year, and 3-year goals)
- Ideal client/target audience
- Services you’ll offer
- Marketing strategy
Because your business will likely change quite a bit over time, especially within your first year while you’re figuring things out, you’ll want to ensure that you have your business plan easily accessible so that you can refer to it and make changes as you go.
I’ve found it helpful to leave the bottom third of each page blank on my business plan, so that after I print it out I can have it on my desk within arm’s reach — and make notes in pen or pencil as my business plan changes. Once the space gets a little too busy with my handwritten notes, that’s when I transfer those notes onto the computer, and print out a new copy to work with!
2. Put Together a Directory of Potential Clients
Creating a directory of potential clients is a great place to start when you’re thinking about who you’d like to work with.
It’s extremely valuable to put together an ideal client profile (something I focus on with my students!), but if you’re feeling a little stuck, even writing out a list of specific individuals/companies can help you to get a better feel for who your ideal client is… AND it can provide you with a concrete list to start with once you begin actually marketing your business.
Keep your directory simple and straightforward: create a spreadsheet with the person’s name (and organization name, if they are part of a company), contact information, what service you offer that would be a good fit for this potential client, WHY and HOW they can benefit from your services, what your current relationship status is with them, and a few ideas for how you can reach out to them.
Note that putting together your client directory involves strategizing! Implementing strategic plans is a fundamental part of building your solopreneur business. You won’t be pitching to these people right away — instead, you’ll want to build your relationships with them to create a solid foundation for when you’re ready for the pitch.
3. Put Together Your Personal Timeline of Action for Quitting Your 9 to 5 Job
I typically teach students how to quit their 9 to 5 jobs within the space of three to six months. So, let’s say you’re choosing a three-month model: in that case, you’ll need to break down those 12 weeks into weekly mini goals, with daily actionable steps that you can take to achieve each mini goal.
Your strategic timeline of action won’t be the same as anyone else’s — it depends on what YOU need to focus on for building your business. You might want to place more of an emphasis on improving the skills you’ll offer to clients, for example, or perhaps you need to focus more on marketing your services and pitching to clients.
Whatever the case, put together a plan of action based on what YOU need to work on… and then implement it!
4. Market Your Business
The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to marketing is this: YOU DO YOU.
If someone else is using a marketing technique that doesn’t resonate with you, then DON’T USE IT on your own clients!
Instead, focus on natural, organic, relationship-building strategies to make marketing an enjoyable part of your business… and to most effectively get hired by your ideal clients. Keep in mind that marketing is passive; pitching is active. You’ll want to use a combination of marketing your business and pitching your services for best results when it comes to getting hired by clients.
5. Plan what Your Daily Schedule will look like when You Work from Home Full-Time
This is a step that too many solopreneurs skip. Don’t skip this step! If you jump into working from home full-time without putting together a daily schedule or work plan for yourself, then you might find that you struggle with keeping yourself disciplined and on track with what you’re supposed to be working on.
Outline how you’ll spend your days during the week so that you don’t feel overwhelmed once you’re working from home full-time.