Many people dream of turning their hobby or passion into a career. But very few actually do it. Making money from your passion is not impossible. All it takes is a little bit of budgeting, a whole lot of planning, and a strong desire to make it happen. If you are interested in starting your own business or turning your passion into a career, do a serious gut-check. Everyone dreams about it, but the reason very few actually do it is because they are not willing to put in the work. When you are getting started, prepare to spend every hour and every dollar to turn your dreams into a reality.
Think you have what it takes? Below is a 7-step plan for quitting your job to pursue your passion that actually works.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Yet
Going all in and quitting your job right away can be very tempting. After all, what better way to express your commitment? This is a mistake. Do not quit your day job as soon as inspiration strikes. At least not yet, anyway. Keeping your job will allow you to develop an escape plan while collecting a dependable paycheck. I say dependable paychecks because once you start your passion project, paychecks will be few and far between while you get started.
“When it comes down to it, keeping your day job until you are cash flow positive is not only the safest but arguably, the smartest decision you can make,” says Kerry Song on Tony Robbin’s website. The song goes on to state that “you will be able to take a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach to building a roadmap from where you are to where you want to be.”
There are some exceptions to this rule. If you already have enough money saved up to pursue your dreams for a year, go right ahead and quit your job today. Unfortunately, most of us do not have that luxury. Another exception is if your job is truly sucking the life out of you, be it emotionally, socially, or financially. If you do decide to quit, find a quick way to replace your main source of income while you build your new empire. Many early entrepreneurs opt to drive for Uber and Lyft while building their business during the day. These small gigs are a great way to collect a regular income while providing you will enough time to follow your dreams.
Reduce Your Expenses
To prepare for the jump, budding entrepreneurs need to cut down on spending. Auditing your expenses will help you save crucial capital. Track every single expense in a spreadsheet. Categorize everything and target items that are unnecessary. Sure a $4 cup of coffee may not seem like much. But buying this same cup five days in a row is $20. In a month that’s almost $100.
Every dollar counts when you are running your own business. Evaluate every bill. Ask yourself, “is it worth it?” Remember, every dollar you spend is one less dollar you can put towards your passion.
For example, how often do you watch TV? If you are dedicated to the grind, you won’t have time for TV. Eliminating this monthly bill can easily add an extra $100 to your available funds. Another easy place to cut costs is on food. The cost of a meal at a restaurant compared to the cost of cooking at home is astronomical. Cooking your own meals saves money and is much healthier. Especially if you treat yourself to meals chalked full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Hold off on quitting your day job until you are cash flow positive and your budget it under control.
Create Time on Your Schedule
Transforming your passion into a career will take a lot of time. Especially if you follow my advice and maintain a full-time job while you are getting started. Since there is only so much time in a day, and since most of your time will be going to work and your passion, you will need to make time. People always say they are too busy. This is a lie. Everyone has the time, they aren’t willing to make time. This means eliminating items from your schedule.
When you are starting out, you will have to say “no” to a lot of things. You will need to decline invites to parties or weddings. You will have to say “no” to binge watching tv shows all weekend. Every hour you spend away from your passion is another hour your competition is gaining on you. Another great way to make more time is to wake up earlier. For many people, early morning hours are more productive than the hours before bed. Take advantage of this and wake up earlier and go to bed earlier. Get your work done while everyone else is sleeping.
Build Your Network
Before starting your career transformation, build and maintain your professional network. Your network will be the people you can turn to for advice when you need it most. The network you develop will also be a great resource when you have a product or service ready to test out in the market. Plus, having a trustworthy group that has your best interests in mind are more likely to provide accurate feedback.
If there is someone you want to meet, get an introduction from someone you already know. Doing so bypasses the need to reach out blindly to someone. From my experience, having an introduction increases your chances of setting up a meeting. Once you and the other person have been introduced, offer to buy them a cup of coffee. In the invitation, let them know you want to make the meeting brief because you know their time is valuable. Also, explain why you want to meet. People hate walking into a meeting blind. Prepare the person so they know exactly what they are accepting when they say “yes” to your offer.
When networking, don’t neglect your current relationships as well. Sometimes the best networking opportunities are with people you already know.
So dig into your contact lists or reach out to people who might be a valuable resource in the future. As your network develops, be sure to reciprocate. No one likes a one-sided relationship. If someone in your network does something for you, make sure you return the favor. Or better yet, offer the favor first. That way they will “owe you one” later on down the road. Having said that, never hold a favor over someone’s head. This is unprofessional and in very poor taste.
One of the most popular social media channels for building professional relationships is on LinkedIn. Remember: randomly adding people on LinkedIn is NOT networking. Networking means building actual relationships.
Work on Your Personal Brand
Regardless of whether you are starting your own business or freelancing full-time, it is important to build your personal brand. Your personal brand is essentially how you present yourself online and in person. The best place to start brand development is with your social media accounts. Start using your social media accounts as a tool to build your brand. While you are at it, remove anything unprofessional that might come back to haunt you. Keep personal things off social media and use it to promote yourself, your story, your service, and your product. Don’t do this in a spammy way. If you are authentic, people will be much more receptive.
To increase your brand presence and reach more people, expand beyond social media. Construct your own personal blog or website. Share your stories and express yourself throughout the journey.
Another great online arena to build your brand is Quora. Quora is a site where people go to ask questions. The top answers to those questions receive a ton of visibility. Use this to your advantage. Search the site for areas you are an expert in. Answer as many questions as you can in the most informative way possible. If you want to get the top answer, your answer better be really good. So make sure you have the knowledge and resources to back it up.
Start With a Side Hustle
Just because you still have a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t work on your passion project on the side. Side hustles make it possible to test the waters without risking everything in the process. Side hustling also brings in extra money. These funds will help support you financially once you do take the plunge and cut ties with your old job. Starting as a side hustle will allow you to see if your business has a chance to be profitable. It also gives you valuable experience with selling your service or product, dealing with clients, tracking expenses and many other things a small-business owner will need to learn.
Another major benefit of starting with a side hustle is that once you are ready to quit your job, you aren’t starting from scratch. By the time you quit, you should already have a steady stream of income so you can hit the ground running. If you made enough time in your schedule (Step #3), you should have more than enough time to work your regular job, network effectively, and work on your passion project.
Create a Detailed Plan
The final step in preparation is to visualize and document the path that is going to take you to the finish line. This path should be extremely detailed. This is the framework you will use to build your empire. Your detailed list should include several things. First and foremost it should include how you will generate profit. This is not your sales pitch. You need to know exactly how you are going to make money. Which means that you need to know what your product or service is, how you are going to package it, who you are going to sell it to, and why they should want it.
Your plan should also include detailed financials. Including your burn rate. Your burn rate is how fast you are spending money. Calculating your burn rate will give you a detailed time of when you will need to start turning a profit. Also be sure to include short and long-term goals. Think about you will need to accomplish in the first week, the first month and the first year. Also, envision where you would like your business to be after five years. I am a fan of SMART goals.
I hate to say it, but every business plan should include a “Plan B.” You need to know what you are going to do when if and when your original plan fails. Having a Plan B will help you make decisions confidently and stay level-headed should things go astray. Some people like to say that not having a Plan B will force you to make Plan A work. I do not subscribe to this ethos because most businesses fail. And failing isn’t a bad thing. Acknowledging failure gives you an opportunity to change. You should know how and when to pivot.
Failing is not a problem. Not acknowledging your failure is a problem.
Putting it All Together
Turning your passion into a career is no easy feat. It takes time, energy and money. But if you have a proper plan in place, it is much easier to be successful. My biggest piece of advice is this: Don’t quit your day job until you have (1) conquered your finances and (2) know exactly what you need to be successful. Once you have the funding and business plan in place, it is only a matter of effort. And if effort is the only thing holding you back, maybe you don’t want to pursue your passion as much as you thought you did.