Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by Katie
Do you want to learn how to quit your job and work for yourself?
Are you wondering when is the right time to take a leap of faith and start that online business you just can’t get out of your head?
This is an exciting, but scary time. I know because I’ve been there.
And, I’ve been through the agony and confusion, not knowing when I should quit my day job, or whether it’s worth me doing it at all.
According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the number of people working for themselves is 9.98 million in 2022.
For me, I spent years thinking about working for myself. But, I never quite had the guts to jump in and make it happen.
I was living in London at the time and my outgoings were huge!
The thought of wanting to be my own boss was always on my mind, but so was the thought of not being able to pay my bills if it didn’t work out.
Perhaps you’re having the same thoughts? Maybe you’re working on a side hustle part-time and wondering how to make it into a full-time income?
Or maybe you’re just tired of working all hours on someone else’s dream and want to create multiple streams of income to retire early.
Either way, this ultimate guide is going to teach you how to quit your job and work for yourself. To be successful with the transition, it’s important to prepare.
The more prepared you are, the easier the switch will be. Learning how to quit your job and work for yourself isn’t going to be easy. However, it is possible if you want it enough.
Depending on your current situation, you may want to follow some of the steps mentioned and not others.
There is no right or wrong. Just follow this guide to get all the information you need to quit your job and start working for yourself successfully.
Summary of How to Quit Your Job and Work for Yourself
- Determine Your ‘Why’
- Write Down Your Goals
- Make a Detailed Plan of Action
- Save for an Emergency Fund
- Start While You Have a 9-5
- Learn About Self-Employed Tax
- Work on Your New Business Daily
- Take Courses to Learn Relevant Skills
- Have Faith and Believe You Will Be Successful
- Quit Your Day Job and Enjoy Being Self-Employed
Now you know the exact steps to quit your job and work for yourself.
Let’s take a look at each step in more detail.
10 Steps to Quit Your Job and Work for Yourself
1. Determine Your ‘Why’
So, you want to quit your job and work for yourself.
This is great, but unless you have a strong why, the chances of making this happen are slim.
This is because having a powerful why will make you do anything to make it happen. The importance of this is huge because there will be days when you struggle and want to give up.
And when you want to throw in the towel, your why will keep you going, propelling you through any barrier.
‘’When you find your why, you find a way to make it happen.’’ Eric Thomas
2. Write Down Your Goals
When learning how to quit your job and work for yourself, it’s important to have achievable goals.
A goal gives you a target to work towards, instead of just hoping for the best.
Goals also serve as a checkpoint, that can be ticked off each time one is accomplished.
Or, if you miss a goal deadline, you can take a step back and re-assess what you are doing, to move forward positively.
Figure out your 3, 6 and 12-month goals and write them down. Make sure you make each one realistic.
It’s tempting to put a lot of pressure on yourself with unrealistic goals. While it is good to have a little urgency, too much can just lead to overwhelm and stress if you miss the mark.
Write down your goals on a simple piece of paper and attach them to the wall next to your workstation.
Alternatively, write them onto a Word doc and save them to your desktop.
Set yourself a weekly and monthly goal check-in time and date, to keep track of your progress.
3. Make a Detailed Plan of Action
Without a detailed plan of action, you will waste a lot of time.
For me, if I don’t plan my day, I sit staring at my computer wondering what I should be doing next.
In regards to breaking free from a 9-5 and working for yourself, this needs to be planned out with precision.
‘’A goal without a plan is only a dream.’’ Brian Tracy
Your detailed plan should include the exact steps to get to your goal plus timeframes to achieve each stage.
This is basically a ‘to-do’ list of what you need to do each day, each month and by the end of the year.
An action plan helps you to stay productive and taking those baby steps forward.
Without one, it’s so easy to take days off from doing anything, bringing progress to a screeching halt.
4. Put an Emergency Fund Aside
It’s extremely important to have an emergency fund when working for yourself.
This is because there will be times when your income fluctuates and clients leave you.
Having money set aside is a financial cushion that is there when you need it. You can enjoy peace of mind knowing you are covered if disaster strikes and you have a few bad months.
When running your own business, you never know when your income could disappear.
Take Covid19 for example – no one could have ever predicted the total lockdown and loss of business that ensued.
Aim to have enough money in your emergency fund to cover your living costs for at least three months.
5. Start Your New Business While Working a 9-5
If you can, it makes sense to start your new business while you still have money coming in from a day job.
This is because your side hustle will take time to pay the same amount as your day job.
Unless you already have a decent client base and money flowing in, it’s not recommended to quit your 9-5 just yet.
Plus, some of the income you are getting from the day job can be put into the new business for things like marketing, building a website and buying tools if you need them.
Staying with your 9-5 for a while also gives you time to work out if the new business is really sustainable.
You may find yourself failing a few times and that’s ok!
Failure is an important part of success and you learn what is not right for you.
‘’Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed.’’ Robert T Kyosaki
I failed with multiple online businesses before I found freelance writing and this blog.
And then I had two jobs for a while working in a gym half the week and freelance writing part-time until I had enough clients to go it alone.
Set yourself a deadline for when you want to quit your job. And remember, the process is different for everyone.
One person might be able to quit their job in six months, while for someone else it might take two years.
If you need help deciding what new business to start, or what remote job to try out, check out these ideas:
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- How to Become a General Transcriptionist: Step By Step Guide for Beginners
- How to Become a Proofreader with No Experience (7 Simple Steps for Success)
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- The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing on Twitter: Make $1,000+/Month Tweeting
6. Learn About Self-Employed Tax
This is the annoying part of working for yourself – having to sort out your own taxes.
Aim to save around 30% of your income each month for tax.
I like to have a standing order that goes into a separate account monthly for my tax savings.
The amount you need to save will vary, as your income changes each month. But, I like knowing I have some automatically saved in case I forget.
Be aware that the amount of tax you pay depends on what country you live in.
Being self-employed means you have to find this information out yourself and go through the procedure of registering your new business online.
Even if you are only earning a small amount from your new business in the beginning, it’s worth sorting out the legalities.
If you struggle with all this, find yourself a competent small business accountant. I’ve found this to be a lifesaver, as I hate filling in tax returns.
7. Work on Your New Business Daily
Now you’ve determined your ‘why’, have clear goals and decided what business to start, you need to work on making progress daily.
It can be tough to find time if you’re still working a 9-5.
But look at your daily schedule and see where you can find clear spaces. I find it easier to work on my blog in the mornings before I start client work.
But, if the evenings work better for you, cancel that Netflix subscription and commit to working 2-4 hours in the evening to build your new business.
Try to avoid doing ‘busy’ tasks. These types of tasks are what fill your time up, but don’t actually make a difference. An example is spending three hours deciding on the colour scheme of your blog.
While this is important, it can always be changed in the future.
The three hours doing this could be used on more effective tasks such as:
- Building a business social media account
- Sending cold emails
- Creating your portfolio
- Networking with potential clients on LinkedIn
Always ask yourself if the task you are doing is actually going to make a difference.
8. Take Courses to Learn Relevant Skills
Learning how to quit your job and work for yourself is a learning curve.
There will be obstacles along the way and one big one is often not having the relevant skills.
The good news is – this is easy to overcome, with there being so much free information online to absorb.
Another option is to take an online course to update your skills.
‘’The future belongs to those who learn new skills and combine them in creative ways.’’ Robert Greene
Before I picked up my first few writing clients I took a freelance writing course.
This taught me the basics of how to become a freelance writer, how to market myself, the content writing skills you need, what clients look for, how much I should charge and how to find freelance writing clients.
Without it, I would have spent many more years going around in circles, not having much progress.
I paid a few hundred pounds for that course which I made back in a few months.
If funds are tight for you, I recommend you take affordable online courses on Udemy.
Learn valuable, practical skills to expand your freelance career opportunities for as little as $13.99.
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9. Have Faith and Believe You Will Be Successful
You have to believe you can be your own boss before it will happen.
If you don’t believe in yourself, prospective clients won’t either.
Once you strike out on your own, you need to have your own back and be your biggest cheerleader. I’m not saying there won’t ever be days where you have doubts.
But, you have to always come back to the unwavering belief, that you can and will be successful.
‘’So much of starting a new business or affecting change is the confidence and courage to simply try.’’ Simon Sinek
What helped me a lot, in the beginning, was surrounding myself with others on the same journey.
Talk to like-minded entrepreneurs, get yourself an accountability partner and be available to each other for a pep talk when needed.
10. Quit Your Day Job and Enjoy Being Self-Employed
After starting your business and staying consistent for 6 – 24 months, you should be about ready to hand in your resignation letter.
Of course, if you’re not ready, this is ok and you should take the time you need to build your income to the right level.
Have a think about how much notice you will give your employer. The amount you are expected to give will vary depending on your career.
Always aim to be kind and not burn any bridges, even if they have not been great to you.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Working for Yourself?
Being your own boss is not for everyone. But, for those who can make it work, it brings numerous benefits.
- Set your own work hours
- Work is fulfilling and more exciting
- No more commuting in rush hour
- Choose the clients you want to work with
- No boss looking over your shoulder
- You can build financial security
- Spend more time with friends and family
- Live life on your own terms
- Can work from anywhere with WIFI
- You become independent and a problem solver
- You can set your creative, innovative side free
- Work on multiple businesses at a time
- Build a team you enjoy working with
- Don’t have to ask for a break or time off
- No dress code or ugly uniform
- Not stuck in an office all day
- Can take time out to enjoy your hobbies
- The sky is the limit with income potential
Anything good comes with some downsides. Working for yourself is not always sunshine and rainbows.
You have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons to make it worthwhile for you.
- Income is often unstable
- May have to start from nothing (unless you purchase an aged business)
- Have no health insurance or benefits
- No holiday or sick pay
- Can be difficult picking up new clients
- Some people may feel isolated
- Have to sort out your own taxes
- Need patience and discipline
- Will have to find customers and clients
- You’ll have to keep yourself accountable
- May have to work evenings and weekends in the beginning
- No income when you don’t work (unless passive streams are set up)
As you can see, there are more pros than cons regarding working for yourself.
Although the cons are scary and can be enough to put some people off. If you don’t have a long-term mindset when starting your own business, you will likely fail.
But remember, nothing worth having in life is easy! If setting up a successful home business was easy, everyone would do it.
For me, the pros outweighed the cons and I knew if I never tried that I would regret it and always wonder ‘what if’.
If you just can’t get the thought of quitting your job and working for yourself out of your head, I encourage you to give it a go and not live your life with regrets.
How to Get Over the Fear of Quitting Your Job?
The fear of quitting your job is a fear of the unknown.
Even though you may be unhappy with your current work, it’s comfortable and familiar.
It’s scary leaving what you know to start something new. Especially when you’re not sure if it’ll work out.
All sorts of things go through your mind like:
What if it doesn’t work? How will I pay my rent and bills? I will look silly if I fail.
It is completely natural to feel like this. Just don’t let it stop you from trying at all.
I felt exactly the same when transitioning into freelance writing. However, the one thing that kept me going, was that I didn’t want to live with regrets.
I knew if I didn’t try at all, I would always wonder ‘what if?’
So, my advice is to acknowledge the fear, push it to one side and go after your dreams anyway.
Nothing worth having is easy. But, if you let fear overtake your life, you will never realise your true potential.
How to Transition to Working from Home?
There is no one exact straight path to working for yourself.
I’ve spoken to some business owners who took years to make things work and others who quit a 9-5 and set up a successful business in a few months.
One important step is — having an emergency fund. This will reduce stress significantly, knowing you have enough money to cover your bills should you need it.
The next important step is making a detailed plan. Knowing what you have to do each day and month keeps you progressing.
And, keep the pressure on yourself by setting a timeframe to hand your notice in.
Do make it realistic and take into account everything else you have going on in your life.
Is It Better to Work for Yourself or for Someone Else?
My opinion is that working for yourself is way better than working for someone else.
The time freedom, plus the flexibility to work from anywhere you please are a real plus.
Although, some may disagree and prefer the structure and dependability of a regular, set wage, that you get working for someone else. And, not everyone will enjoy only having themselves to depend on.
When researching how to quit your job and work for yourself, think about what is really important to you.
Do you prefer freedom or dependability? Are you self-motivated or do you need someone there to make you work?
The answers to these questions will help you understand if working for yourself or for someone else is right for you.
What Are the 5 Challenges of Self-Employment?
While working for yourself has numerous benefits, there are also many challenges to face, especially in the beginning.
1. Hard Work
So, you have a passion for writing! That’s great, but passion alone won’t pay the bills. Building your own business takes consistent hard work, persistence and patience.
You have to be willing to put the hours in, which may be even longer than when you were working for someone else.
2. Fear of Failure
Many entrepreneurs won’t admit to having a fear of failure.
But, I’m happy to admit that it is always in the back of my mind. It’s ok to feel fear, just as long as you don’t let it alter your decisions.
A healthy dose of fear is actually helpful. It makes you work even harder to avoid failing.
3. Unstable Finances
Another challenge of self-employment is there is no guaranteed monthly income.
You may earn well for three months and then have two clients leave you, seriously reducing what you earn.
Always plan for the slower months by putting money aside in the good months.
Another option is to create multiple passive income streams, to always have money coming in.
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4. No Sick or Holiday Pay
Working for yourself means you don’t get paid when you are sick or on holiday.
Again, you can plan for this by saving a portion of your earnings each month and by building multiple passive income streams.
5. Staying Motivated
When you first start working for yourself, it’ll feel all new and exciting. As your business grows, motivation will just flow and you’ll love every minute.
However, there will be times when disaster strikes and nothing you do seems to work. These are the times when motivation can go out the window.
When this happens, take a step back and remind yourself how far you’ve come. Regularly review your goals and talk with other people on the same journey.
If you need to, take a break to re-energise and come back with renewed motivation.
Final Thoughts on How to Quit Your Job and Work for Yourself
Now you know how to quit your job and work for yourself. It’s time for you to get to work and make it happen!
While you might not feel completely ready, don’t let procrastination stop you from getting started at all.
If you wait until you’re ready, you might never get started.
‘’Procrastination is the thief of time.’’ Charles Dickins
Know that — even by reading this article, you are on your way. Many will just keep thinking about working for themselves and never actually research how to do it.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it on your social media to inspire others.
Let me know in the comments if you want to work for yourself. What are you struggling with? I’d love to know and help if I can.
Check out these posts for remote work inspiration:
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How to Quit Your Job and Work for Yourself (Ultimate Guide)
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