‘Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
– Farrah Gray
I love the quote above. It’s one that stayed with me ever since I first read it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being employed AT ALL. It was my plan to work in finance for the rest of my life. Given that my job was business development and investor relations, I was never going to be the one that owned the hedge fund I was working for – this is normally the founder of the fund and main money manager, and maybe some of the founding partners. I therefore always had it in my mind that I would spend my career working for others, not matter how senior I was in the organisation. Being employed has its benefits. It’s nice to know that you have guaranteed income coming in at the end of the month and knowing that you have access to benefits (or at least I did) like a pension plan, health care, dentistry, etc. I don’t know what it was that suddenly changed my mind about it all. I suddenly felt unfulfilled and unhappy and craved something more for my life.
In July 2019, that all changed. I decided to take the plunge, leaving my full-time role to start my new self-employed life. Whenever I attend an event or meet someone new that asks me about my background, I always get asked the same thing. ‘How did you do it?’ I’ve decided to write a whole article on my response to that.
Don’t Rush Into Anything
I didn’t suddenly decide that I had enough of finance, it slowly built up to the point where I really just had no interest anymore. It all started in September 2015. I remember it specifically as it was a very confusing time for me. I knew I was fed up with what I was doing but had no idea that there were other options for me. I figured I had spent my whole life working up to a job like this and it’s too late to do a 180. The other problem was… a 180 to what? I knew the things I liked but had no idea how to make a career out of them. You can read a little more about that journey here, but what I’m getting at is that it took me from September 2015 to July 2019 to take the plunge and leave the comfort of employed life. I took time to figure out what I wanted to do, and then once I figured that out I spent time working on it and coming up with a plan. I started my blog in February 2018, announced it in May, before making it my new full-time role in July 2019.
Always Have a Plan
As I read what I just wrote, I feel so annoyed at myself that I didn’t start this back in 2015. If I had, this whole thing would have been so much easier. Back when no one knew what an algorithm was! Whilst those dream days have long gone, having a plan of where you want to go and what you want to achieve is essential to deciding when you want to become self-employed. I knew I wanted to create a brand that represented my life and values. I knew the types of brands or groups that I would want to work with, and those that I didn’t. I invested in camera equipment. I took numerous courses to teach myself how to do all this professionally (unfortunately, taking a nice Insta pic is the least of it). I joined influencer or content creator groups, attended meetups. Your name soon starts circulating and early this year, I started to receive my first few brand collaborations. It was only when these collaborations picked up that I felt ready to give up the day job, not before. I would not have, nor would I recommend, leaving paid employment without seeing progress in your passion project.
Make Sure You Have Support
I cannot emphasise how important this point is. For me, my support is my husband Simon, who has been behind me every step of the way and always pushes me to move forward, gives ideas, proof reads my contracts. I would not be self-employed without him.
It’s also really important to look at your financial position. Following your dream and giving up your income without knowing how you’re going to replace it may sound exciting, but it won’t be much fun if you get evicted for not paying the rent. Or not having any food to eat. If you’re stuck in a job you hate and need to leave, you either need to make sure that someone else is going to cover you, or that you have saved enough to support yourself in the start-up phase. The easiest thing to do is add up all of your monthly expenditures; rent, bills and food. Once you know what your outgoings are, then you know exactly how much you need to save to be able to do this. You can then calculate how many months you need to save for until your business gets off the ground. Support doesn’t necessarily need to come from others, you can always plan ahead to support yourself.
Trust Your Instinct
Last but not least, you were born with instinct for a reason. Always trust it. If you feel like you are going into something half-heartedly or that something is a bad idea, think about it carefully. I may be making a lot less money than I was making whilst employed, but both my heart and my brain tell me that I made the right decision. Being self-employed definitely has its peaks and troughs (just had a trough about 30 minutes ago in fact) but I feel like everyone knows deep down whether it is the right career move for them.
I’d love to hear from you if you are keen to leave your employed life behind to start your own venture. Let me know in the comments or if you’d rather remain anonymous, send me a DM over on Instagram.