8 Things You Need Before Taking the Leap to Full Time Business Owner
Taking the leap from my 9-5 to run my business full time was the biggest decision of my life. I’m sure that many other people face the same fears of not being ready.
When I was preparing to leave my job, there were many aspects of running a business that I realized were much different than just applying for small projects on a freelancing platform like People Per Hour or Upwork.
In this blog post, I’m breaking down the 8 things I had in place before I made the leap that I would also suggest to others who are thinking of doing the same thing.
Everyone has their own journey and makes this big change at different times, but hopefully this information sets you up for success.
1. Streamlined client workflow
You need to know how you’re going to be working with clients.
What steps come first? Do they sign the contract or give you a deposit first? How much money?
What are the nitty gritty tasks that you and your clients need to go through on every single project? Who does what and how much time is needed between each task?
These are things you should have documented. Write them down and make sure they’re clear and easy to understand.
Tip: Generalize them and add them to your services page so that potential clients get a glimpse at your process. Clients like to know what to expect when working with you.
I use two documents for my workflow. One is a Google Sheet that displays the tasks in calendar format so that I can visual the process. The other is a Google doc that lists out each task and includes descriptions or prompts for links.
This leads me to my next point.
2. Project management system
I keep all my communication and files within Asana projects. I take the Google doc of every single task and copy/paste it in list format, including the descriptions where necessary.
Having your process documented will save you so much time every time you start a new client project.
So get organized and document your process.
I have heard way too many horror stories of freelancers doing hundreds and even thousands of dollars of work without a contract. They follow up with the person and get no response. Crickets.
Sadly, there’s nothing they can do about it. I’m clearly not a lawyer, but from what I’ve heard from lawyers that have consoled freelancers in this position, there’s no action that can be taken if there wasn’t a written agreement on the scope of work, payment and other details.
Some newbie business owners have expressed that they feel like having a contract would intimidate potential clients, but it actually does the opposite. Having a contract allows both parties to come to a full understanding of the scope of the project and the deliverables, which in turn makes you look extremely professional.
Contracts can be expensive, but they will save you in the long run.
If you’re a creative business owner, I recommend purchasing contracts from *Annette Stepanian.
4. Invoicing system
Sure, you can use Paypal (or maybe even Venmo) when you’re first starting out and working with close friends and family on projects. But as you grow and begin working with clients you don’t have a personal connection with, you’re going to want a real system in place (one that won’t cause a headache when working with clients from around the world).
I seriously love *Dubsado for this. Here’s why:
You can send invoices and contracts. No more having to use two different programs.
It easily integrates with Stripe (hello international clients).
It automates your client intake process. Client signed your contract? Perf. Your first invoice is immediately sent out.
If you’re working with clients virtually, this is hands down the most important piece. If you don’t have a website, it can be very difficult to find clients. In an online world, it looks very strange to not have your own website and makes you appear less credible.
Clients want to see who you are, what you have to offer and how you present yourself.
Looking to have a Squarespace website designed? Here’s how we can work together.
6. Client work/portfolio
The sad and honest truth is that no one is going to hire you without samples of work, unless you’re a coach or someone who doesn’t deliver a tangible result.
Sometimes all it takes is one sample and you can have someone pay you at a discounted rate as you build your portfolio. My first 3 full branding packages I created were for $15/hour. Those days are long gone, but it was a way to build my portfolio and be rewarded for my time.
Let coworkers, friends and family know that you’re starting this new venture and the kind of work you’re looking to gain experience in.
After providing samples of work, potential clients want to know what to expect when working with you. They want to hear what other clients have to say about your work, your process and the results others achieved from hiring you and your services.
When adding testimonials to your website, includes photos of the people, their name and company if you can. It enhances credibility of that testimonial.
8. Safety net
I’ve heard of some entrepreneurs quitting their jobs cold turkey, with no real savings or plan. Sometimes that works out well, and for others it’s a complete mess.
It’s a really good idea to have 3-6 months worth of money to cover your expenses. It not only makes the transition less stressful, but gives you that extra cushion in case your sales goals don’t go quite as plan your first few months working full time in your business.
There you have it! To recap, before you quit your 9-5 you should have…
Streamlined client workflow
Project management system
Financial safety net
Have any questions about taking the leap? Drop a question in the comments below!
*These are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. I only promote resources and programs that I absolutely love.