A little over a decade ago, the thought of making money online blew people’s minds. It’s more common nowadays to find self-employed workers, but they’re still rare. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), less than 10 million Americans are self-employed.
Why Are There So Few Self-Employed Workers?
The main reason why only 3% of the population considers themselves independent contractors is work insecurity. Freelancing is seen as unstable and difficult to fall back on. Many Americans rely on their employer for health insurance, making it even harder for employees to pull away.
While it’s true the self-employed are more likely to lose work during a recession, independence isn’t impossible. As of November 2021, only 5.3% of self-employed freelancers are experiencing difficulties finding work. This is down from 42.2% in May 2020, the beginning of the pandemic.
Quitting your cushy day job that pays well is a risk; there’s no doubt about that. But, your side hustle may be the key to long-lasting satisfaction if your day job is affecting your mental health.
Job Satisfaction: When You Know It’s Time
No one really likes to work; not really. There are days when you’d rather stay in bed than drag yourself to your 9-5, and that’s normal. But if you’re constantly dreading Monday and too stressed on the weekend to enjoy yourself, you’re probably experiencing burnout.
How Common is Employee Burnout?
Mayo Clinic describes burnout as a state of exhaustion that includes a loss of personal identity and feeling unaccomplished. Burnout is often tied to a lack of job satisfaction.
Unfortunately, a Gartner study found that only 13% of employees are largely satisfied with their work experiences. That same study showed that 46% of those surveyed were largely dissatisfied with their overall job experience. Dissatisfaction is a chronic workplace issue.
43% of professionals planned to look for a new job in 2019, proving turnover rate was a problem before the pandemic. If you’re feeling like your day job is killing you, you aren’t alone.
But can you justify quitting your job if you aren’t happy? Should you take the risk, even if that risk could potentially lead to financial ruin? Yes, and there’s a fundamental reason why.
Almost Everyone Hates Their Jobs
The average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime, but most employees spend this time in agony. A 2017 Gallup poll estimated that 85% of employees hate their jobs.
90,000 hours amounts to 33% of your entire life. If that time is spent in a state of depression and loathing, what do you think the other 66% is like? Can it make up for the 33% of misery? Probably not, considering that the other 66% is full of its own ups, downs, and wide turns.
Your co-workers, friends, and family members may tell you not to quit your job. While this can be great advice, especially if you have no money or a plan, is it still good if you’re ready? Is it still great if you’re unhappy? Is the advice still relevant if your job is ruining your life?
The gig economy thrives these days and if you’re confident your side hustle will succeed and you’re willing to put in the work, consider quitting your job. If you’re making a bit of money and you’re already scaling, then you’re ready. Whether being a courier driver is your dream job or you want to blog, you deserve to be happy.
How to Know You’re Ready to Leave Your Full-Time Job
Here’s how you’ll know it’s time to leave your full-time job for your side hustle for good.
Checked Out and Dazed
Burned out or not, being completely checked out isn’t fair for the company you work for. You can try to change your bad habits, but that only works if you have the motivation. Without it, you’re more likely to feel disappointed in yourself because you’re living for someone else.
At some point, you may realize you can’t do your job forever. You probably started your side hustle because you wanted to feel some sort of job satisfaction. But when you consistently stop bringing your 110% to your current career is the moment you should start your transition.
Remember: the main reason you’re quitting your full-time job is to find happiness. However scary committing to your side hustle may be, staying in your current career is scarier.
Believing in Your Side Hustle
No side hustle is going to pay the bills overnight, but it has the potential to. Unless you get lucky, most startups make small returns when they start. But if you keep working, learning, and marketing, your side hustle will keep growing. Eventually, you’ll earn enough to live off of.
Hard work isn’t the only ingredient to success, but it’s still a necessary component. Being a business owner isn’t for the faint-hearted. It can be really unpredictable, expensive, and you’re subject to a high tax rate. But, the perk of quitting your job and living for yourself is worth it.
If you don’t believe in yourself and your side hustle, you’re not going to make it. Keep the passion alive with everything you do, and you’ll find a way to finally quit your full-time job.
Enjoying Your Side Hustle
Believing in your side hustle and enjoying it are two different things. While you’ll probably still have days where you’d rather not work, your side hustle can’t be just for the money. You don’t want to fall into another employee engagement disaster, so focus on joy, not your wallet.
If you can’t imagine not doing your side hustle, that’s a good sign you made the right choice. If you wake up most mornings ready to work, you’ve found a winner. When the going gets tough, you need to rely on your love for your business, independence, and yourself to pull through.
When you love what you do, everything else comes easier. But don’t forget to consider the “business” side of the business. Otherwise, you won’t be able to sustain your new career.
A Realistic Business Plan
No online store, company, or business is guaranteed success, but there are ways you can beat the odds. Sure, having money in your bank account helps if you know how to use it. Without a detailed business plan or accounting software, you’re more likely to overspend.
Creating a business plan takes a lot of work, but it’ll help you run your company. A traditional business plan includes an executive summary, market analysis, and a thorough review of your industry and your departments. If you are bootstrapping, a lean startup plan format will do.
You should be able to tell, realistically, what the next 3-5 years will look like. If you assume your budget or lifestyle will change, include that assessment while planning your company.
Thriving on Flexibility
Flexibility is a wonderful thing, but not everyone thrives without structure. While that doesn’t mean you can’t become more organized, you’re still responsible for what gets done. If you’re a chronic procrastinator who finds it difficult to stick to a schedule, you may need a boss.
On the other hand, you may need to develop better habits. There are so many positives to self-employment, like being able to travel and work when you want. It would be a shame to give that up because you can’t manage your own time. But if you can, prioritize your side hustle.
While working your full-time job, you’ll need to carve out all the time you can. However, if you can manage to grow your business while you’re employed, you can handle it full-time.
Finances Are in Order
Why do most businesses fail? They run out of money. Too often, startups spend too much money in the wrong places or don’t watch their funds carefully. For example, some companies will run a marketing campaign without knowing their customer persona or preferences.
Even if your side hustle doesn’t make as much as your full-time job, it still has to support you. Organizing your finances will help you determine if you have enough revenue to cover your personal and business expenses. Plus, you’ll know how much you can spend per month.
Don’t forget to consider your personal finances, savings, and lean business months. Ideally, you’ll have enough savings to support yourself for 3-12 months without income.
Making More Independently
There’s no safer time to quit your job than when your side hustle pays the bills. If you make enough active or passive income to consistently live off of, start writing your resignation letter. But don’t burn any bridges, even if your boss is a jerk. You may need them as a reference.
At this point, you may still feel nervous about leaving your current employer. That’s normal. Quitting your job is still a big step, but remember why you started your side hustle in the first place. What’s more, it’ll be impossible for you to scale if you’re splitting time between two jobs.
Eventually, you have to make a decision. Between a soul-crushing job and a freeing, fulfilling business, the answer should be obvious. Give yourself the chance to be happy and successful.