So I'm a part of the closed Facebook entrepreneur group Screw the Nine-to-Five Community (for members or former members of the social media based network Screw the Nine-to-Five University). Being that Screw the Nine-to-Five encourages entrepreneurial efforts, reaching levels so successful that upstarts can eventually "screw" their "9-to-5's" and be a full-time entrepreneur, one lovely member recently posed a beautiful question most, if not all, of us should be thinking about regularly. She essentially asked this killer question: "What one thing would you need to set in place for you to comfortably quit your job?"
One thing? Wow.
The responses were thought-provoking, mature, and quite responsible. Some comments included health insurance and a 401K, while others simply said they would need steady and predictable income; others were very specific and answered that they'd need a handful of months' worth of savings before quitting. Despite all of the prayer and planning, I still wish these were some of the things I had put in place before I turned in my resignation at my State job.
That's right. I wrote my resignation for the State of Alaska's Office of Children's Services--the steadiest job I've ever had, May 4th, 2017. I don't have five or six months' worth of expenses locked down in savings; my wife and I are still in debt; we even took out my 401K from a previous job just to put our 2003 Saturn Vue in the shop and put the rest towards some deep debt. After months of encouraging me to resign, she herself only just now verbalized how "unready" she really was. That's what happens when reality hits, I suppose. The doubt creeps in, the truth settles in, and the discomfort of financial consistency and stability slipping out of the window becomes more than a random nightmare--it's the reality of each day. So, with bills covering the dining table, a two-year-old daughter who's relying on me to keep her safety and future secure, no 401K in place any longer, and very little in savings, why in the world would I quit my job, the one thing that holds us together when we need to see the doctor, or when Allie has a bad month with unreliable clients? Here's how I put it on that Facebook post I mentioned earlier:
I'm taking a HUGE leap here. We don't have much in savings, we took out or 401K just to get the car in the shop, and we'll no longer have health/dental insurance until we pay it out of pocket ourselves. But I promise you my job was absolutely toxic for me. I'm no quit-if-it-gets-hard type of guy, and my state job provides all the stability and security and consistency any normal guy could want from a 9-to-5. I'm so scared leaving the job but I know in my heart I'm ready to play the game to secure my daughter's future without sacrificing my time with her. So I say all this to say, we may succeed and we may fail, but you will know when it's time to go and take the leap. Making rash decisions for your dreams don't always add up if there's no plan in place at all, but at the same time there is ZERO reward without risk. And it's ALWAYS a risk.
Now that I'm actually on my way to becoming a full-time blogger and podcast host alongside my hardworking #momtrepreneur wife, I think I can finally offer you some advice if you're working a full-time job and are fighting the urges to give up some of the stability required to make it on your own, while I'm going through this myself:
1) Have a Plan
Obviously. The old man used to say, "Son, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Few words have stuck with me like those. Of course, I'm not my old man. I'm not all of his successes and I'm not all of his mistakes. And, like Mayer Hawthorne crooning old-school on "Reach Out Richard", of course us youngsters are going to make mistakes, but we've got to find our own way if we're ever going to be something in this world, let alone leave a legacy after we're buried in it. The best we can do short of praying with unshakable faith is planning.
Right now, on the walls of our apartment, our white-board calendars (I highly recommend these) are full of goals and events. This blog post you're reading currently is one of them. We have a business-minded mission to do more than just survive after my last day at work, the 31st of May. And that's wonderful, but I would ask that you do one better, and have your systems in place long before you even think of writing that letter of resignation. That will certainly be a day we will never forget. Your last day will be too, but it's up to you to determine whether it will be remembered for better or for worse.
2) Alpha, meet Beta.
One of my favorite video game icons is Capcom's Blue Bomber, the one and only humanoid hero MegaMan. Known as RockMan in Japan, Rock and his sister Roll (get it?) were created by Dr. Light to assist around the home and laboratory, until a reckless former colleague of Light's turned robots they'd created together against humanity. Light transformed Rock into RockMan to put an end to the chaos, and he's been fighting evil ever since. Before Rock, there was the scarf-clad ProtoMan. Known as Blues in Japan (Capcom was cute with the musical references), he was the prototype humanoid for RockMan in terms of behavior and even weaponry. Blues' creation was a success, so Rock would come next. One might even go as far as to say if Blues hadn't ever worked out as a rough draft, then Rock would never have come into play, let alone saved the world.
Here's my point: have a rough draft; a plan of action written out; a beta test. Sometimes, you need to already be in the market, involved with groups online, finding mentors and discovering who your target audience and consumer really is months in advance before setting yourself up for a deep financial gap between leaving your day-job, and finding success in entrepreneurship. Especially if you're trying to sell a service, course, or physical product, it'd be enormously wise to have a ProtoMan to whatever it is you're selling--a BETA VERSION before going all-out--in order to test the success and need of your product(s). Any great masterpiece in art has a rough draft in existence before it, so why would you do the same thing for this powerful new lifestyle you're trying to employ for yourself, or your family? Don't put THEM at risk because YOU don't want to take the time to do everything in your power to ensure that what you have to sell is desired or needed. Create your ProtoMan/Blues first, THEN establish your MegaMan/RockMan masterpiece.
3) Don't Be a Shook One
Fear will keep you at your job forever. I'm not exaggerating. You're justified in your delays to quit, too, especially if you're married or have young ones. Are you risking their ability to go to the dentist or emergency room because you would rather write books for a living instead of behind a desk or lumberyard? Because you've got the next big idea, some new app, e-course, or podcast? Perhaps you're even told, you have convinced yourself, that you're doing wrong by them or yourself by putting your dreams first...ah. It's all so scary to think about. And it put me on a mental rollarcoaster that kept me at my job for months longer than I probably should've been stuck there.
Listen, there's nothing wrong with enduring hard times. Jobs get challenging; marriages get challenging; parenthood becomes challenging; college becomes challenging. In none of these areas would I ever recommend quitting just because it gets rough. Grow up, you goose! We were made to delight in these things, and conquer them! But you also need to learn to discern what's healthy and what's toxic. Poisonous marriages need healing and lots of work--ones that including certain levels of deceit and abuse may require a premature conclusion for physical and mental restoration. The difficulties of parenthood also strike when one's child or children become adults and need to make their our way into the world--it's time to let them go while still maintaining a parental balance of being a confidant as well as counselor. Hanging out too tight, especially in the later years, can be quite toxic. The same goes with jobs--and for me personally, for all the good my job granted for my family and I, it also provided plenty of access to poison to my very mind. I know for a fact that now is the right time to go.
We really can't be scared of losing such a great insurance for our families. We can't be scared of losing that consistent paycheck, or the droves of disappointment from family and friends who think we're throwing away one of the best opportunities to be a provider for our families. We have to take the risk. No matter how financially prepared you are, or how solid and sexy your business model is, it's a risk. Yes, things go wrong--we get sick, internet goes out, and clients let us down. So what? MOVE FORWARD.
You'll be hearing more from me this month....because June 1st, 2017, I'll officially be my own boss, and SuperTangent will be my full-time job. If I can do this....you too can do this.