Are you considering quitting your day job so that you can purue your work-at-home side job full-time? Are you wondering if quitting your day job is a good idea, especially in today’s uncertain economy?
Back in January of 2012, I wrote about my personal journey to become a full-time freelance writer. I wrote about my slow yet steady increase in freelance writing income, my four month experiment to see how much money I could make by writing freelance, and how I finally found the courage to quit my day job.
My journey to become a full-time freelance writer was a calculated and methodical process; I didn’t just quit my job overnight or get fired and find myself scrambling to make ends meet. Part of my hesitation to quit was because my job paid me quite well (~$60K/year), with benefits and other goodies that probably racked up another $10K/year.
Oddly enough, now that I look back on my first year of being a full-time freelance writer and what has occurred in this time, my only regret is that I didn’t turn in my resignation form sooner. In a way, I regret that I was too methodical.
Maybe I shouldn’t have planned for so long and hesitated for another two years after reporting success with my four month earnings experiment. Maybe I should’ve just followed my passion back in 2009; with three years of full-time freelance writing under my belt versus only one, who knows where I’d be today (the best seller list of the New York Times)?
Thinking back on what I could’ve accomplished with two additional years of full-time freelance writing brings me to the main topic of today’s post: Should you quit your job today, even if your work-at-home job/side business isn’t bringing in as much cash as you would like? Can you excel at your work-at-home venture if it’s your only job?
The pros of quitting your job today
Let’s assume you get fed up with a rude customer at work or some other issue pops up and you quit your job today. Yay! Because you quit your job rather than get laid off or fired, you do not qualify for unemployment coverage. As a result, all your income and benefits (e.g., health insurance) now become your sole responsibility. However, before you become too panicked, consider these new opportunities:
1. More time to pursue your work-at-home career
Back when I was working a full-time job and freelancing on the side, many work opportunities came up that I simply had to pass on for lack of time. I began to resent my full-time job for preventing me from going all out with my freelancing; even today I have the “what ifs” about those lost leads. However, now that I freelance write full-time, I am able to snap up golden opportunities left and right. All this extra work has increased my income incredibly.
Likewise, if you are looking at your current freelance income and wondering how you’ll make ends meet once this becomes your only income, don’t fret. With more time on your hands, you’ll be better able to network and build your client base. Sometimes, the best networking can be done through volunteer work, such as at a business club, where you might be introduced to hundreds if not thousands of business professionals in your field. More time on your hands also means being able to create your own business website, take advantage of LinkedIn, attend conferences, etc.
2. More motivation/less procrastination
Back when I was working at my old employer, it was far too easy for me to put off finding new and/or better-paying clients. I was lulled by the “easy living” lifestyle my two jobs afforded me and loathe to go beyond doing simple content mill work. In fact, it wasn’t until last year that I finally realized that my working for content mill sites had probably delayed my writing career by some 2-3 years.
You might also be in a position where you make good money at and obtain great benefits from your day job. You may also be making a sizeable chunk of cash from your work-at-home job.
Why rock the boat, right?
Well, if you don’t rock the boat, your work-at-home job will always be secondary to your primary job. Because your secondary job will never grab your full attention, your work-at-home earnings will also never meet or exceed what you make at your “real” job. This will justify your reason to not work from home full-time. A vicious cycle ensues.
The cons of quitting your job today
Not everything is rosy in the unemployment line. Here are some very real detriments to just walking up to your current boss and saying “I quit!”
1. Inconsistent/insufficient income
Freelance at-home work lacks the definite security of a weekly/monthly paycheck that you can count on for your budgeting needs. After all, how can you save up for a new house or car when you can’t even determine how much money you’ll be making this month? And freelancing is obviously not the career of choice when you’re sitting at a bank trying to get approved for a loan.
Luckily, as you gain clients, some of these clients will become “regulars”. If you create and sign contracts with your clients (and client contracts should always be created and signed), you’ll have a good idea of how much you’ll be earning and over what time period. Finally, if you maintain work spreadsheets from month to month and year to year, you’ll get a feel of just how much you’re bringing in. The great thing about freelancing is that you can always choose to bring in more cash by working with more clients, raising your rates, etc. This sure beats groveling for a raise with your old boss!
2. Additional expenses
At your old job, your health insurance, retirement, unemployment, taxes, etc. were probably taken care of by your employer. Plus, you had access to lots of inside goodies like a computer, printer, fax, free snacks, company-sponsored trips, etc. Now that you’re working from home, all you have is a ratty old computer (maybe) and the family dog as your corporate VP.
Fortunately, there are several ways in which freelancers can obtain affordable health insurance. Computers, printers and other business equipment purchased for your work-at-home job can be written off as freelance business expenses come tax time. You’ll still need to account for eventualities like retirement, vacations and sick time and no, it won’t be as easy as when someone else did all the planning and payment for you. But, let’s face it: You wanted to become your own boss…so now you get to do his/her job too.
The Bottom Line
Career pundits always say that your work-at-home job should bring in as much (if not more) income than your current job before you decide to quit. However, this is a very unlikely scenario because you simply don’t have the stamina or the time to be working two full-time jobs plus occasional overtime. Personally, I’ve discovered that if you can maintain even one long-term client with your side business, then you’ll surely be able to find additional clients. All you need now is more time. With an extra 8-10 hours at your disposal, just imagine the possibilities.