“An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds an airplane on the way down.” This adage is the startup world in a nutshell. Things move at terminal velocity and you need to think quickly. While there are people who save and meticulously plot out the next 5, 10, 15 years, arguably, most entrepreneurs are building airplanes on their way down.
It’s the worst kept secret that many startups begin while the founders are gainfully employed elsewhere. It’s a comfort and in some ways the early signs of risk management. Perhaps families and partners still need to buy into the idea; perhaps there’s a shred of skepticism about the product/industry; or — and most commonly — there’s fear. Many struggle to take the leap because it can be more comfortable to be working a stable, 9-to-5 job.
The thing is, most who envision a business for themselves, recognize that there is no real stability among any job. You can be wildly talented in your current job and still wind up being laid off. Few businesses could’ve predicted the pandemic, and while some took off, others (like Airbnb) suffered.
If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in a rut and clinging to it only because it’s familiar, then diving into your new business could be the best decision you’ll ever make. Here’s some guidance on when it might be time to quit your 9-to-5.
When should I quit my 9-to-5?
Ask yourself these questions to see if it might be time for you to quit:
- Do you dread going to work every day?
- Is your current role not challenging enough?
- Have you exhausted opportunities for growth or advancement where you’re currently employed?
- Are you thinking about taking your side hustle full-time?
If your answer to any of the above was yes, quitting your 9-to-5 may be the best decision for you.
Beyond the emotional appeal of quitting a mentally exhausting job, it’s worth evaluating your prospects with your new business.
- Is your startup currently generating income?
- Could it generate more income if you put more time into it?
These are important to evaluate because if you’re already making some income and it’s simply a matter of finding the time to grow it, then it’s probably time to quit your day job. Where this gets tricky is when your side job needs to be done during particular hours, so you could turn a profit but only once it replaces your existing job. This can create unnecessary stress & pressure and, in this specific scenario, it’s usually better to save up your funds before taking that leap.
Entrepreneurs may build an airplane on the way down, but it’ll take off some of the stress if you have a parachute (made of money).
Don’t quit your 9-to-5 until you’re ready.
When you have a side hustle, it’s tempting just to quit your job and take the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship. But before you do, make sure you’re ready for it. Quitting your job without a solid plan is financially risky, so make sure you have a cushion saved up and other sources of income while you figure out your next steps.
As you transition from your 9-to-5, create a schedule and establish healthy boundaries between your personal life and work. This can be challenging to do if you’re working from home, but it’s worth the effort.
Quitting your 9-to-5 may be necessary for your health and happiness, so if this is something you want to pursue, then go for it! Just make sure that you have a plan beforehand so that things don’t get too overwhelming or stressful along the way.
Image by Štěpán Vraný