It’s been 5 years since I started The Healthy Maven and 4 years since I quit my corporate job. Gone are the days of commuting in tight subway cars to my 9-to-5 job and those steady paychecks every two weeks. To be honest, work-from-home/freelance life is second nature to me now. I barely remember what it’s like to have an expectation that you show up to work at a certain time.
But the last 4 years have given me a unique perspective on what it means to quit your corporate job. I’ve built my business from a passion project to a 6 figure career but it wasn’t without sacrifice and struggle. Much of this has been sugar-coated for all of you because it is without question the best decision I’ve ever made. But it hasn’t always been easy and that’s what I want to highlight today.
My goal is not to discourage you, because like I said the struggle was 100% worth it but instead to impart a little knowledge for any of you out there looking to quit your 9-to-5 job. I think it can sometimes look like people’s businesses fall out of the sky and when you find yourself really challenged by this new chapter it’s easy to feel alone. But trust me, you are NOT alone. Whether they tell you or not, anyone who has quit their corporate job has had their fair-share of struggles. But it’s also in these struggles that you discover resilience you never knew you had. So even though they appear like obstacles, more often than not they’ll end up being the moments you celebrate. Let’s jump in…
What No One Tells You About Quitting Your Corporate Job…
1. No one is going to tell you that you run a business – you’re as legitimate as you believe yourself to be. There is no moment where you finally discover that you’re running a business. It happens whenever you decide that moment should be. If you want to run a business, RUN A BUSINESS!
2. Success comes in showing up everyday even when you feel like no one is watching – I probably should have put this first because I really think this is the biggest piece of advice. Just like no one will tell you that you run a business, no one is going to tell you that you are worthy. That has to come from within and it comes from showing up when no one is watching, simply for the pure joy of it. Yes, even when things are challenging! Show.Up.
3. Business isn’t personal – For the first couple of years I used to cry when I had to fight to get paid or had a nightmare client with extravagant demands. I’ve now learned “it’s just business”. That’s not to say I’m complacent. I still have to fight every week to make sure my rights and your rights are protected. I also still have clients who I need to hound for payment or make absolutely absurd demands. Sometimes I end up spending more time emailing back and forth and hoping on phone calls that I have to turn the campaign down because I’m exhausted before I even get to the content. That’s why it’s important you know your limits. I always have to remind myself that I run my own business and that my clients down own me. When the work is no longer serving you, walk away.
4. Routine is key and no one can set it but you – I love chatting with people who just quit their corporate job because they’re always in this honeymoon phase of figuring out how to organize their life. It’s so novel to not have to wake up and be somewhere each morning that it usually results in pyjamas until 5:00 PM and wonky eating schedules. I’ve been in the place where I took every coffee date I could because I felt like I had the time, but in the end I wasn’t getting much done. Do the things you need to do to get the best return on your investment aka your time.
5. You won’t get paid…in the beginning – that’s not to say that you aren’t valuable and don’t deserve it. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. That being said, if you think you’re gonna make a 6 figure income off the bat, you’re setting yourself up for disappointing loss. Businesses can take years to grow and you’ll need a deep level of patience during this process. Set the bar high, but give it time to get there.
6. There are no paid vacations – that doesn’t mean you can’t take vacation, but nobody is paying for your bills while you’re laying out on the beach. It’s simply a part of running your own business. Breaks are necessary for your own mental health and wellbeing but know that you’re giving up that luxury (not to mention a steady paycheck) in order to pursue your passion.
7. Most people will think you’re crazy…at first – I can’t even tell you how many people questioned what I was doing when I quit my corporate job. Now I get asked at least once a week to give free consulting sessions! I love the quote “at first they’ll ask you why you’re doing it, and then they’ll ask you how”. Ignore the naysayers because for every person who discredits you, there will be 10 more who admire.
8. Learning to say no will be your greatest lesson – At first everything seems like an opportunity, but if you exhaust your greatest resource (aka YOU), you won’t have a business at all. Learn to decipher the opportunities that are worthwhile vs. those that aren’t. I still do this everyday.
9. NEGOTIATE – Like I said, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. There are times when you need to walk away, but always negotiate first. Whether it’s rates, time, services, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. I’ve had really successful partnerships come out of situations which appeared unfavorable at first. Also negotiating is scary at first but you get better at it the more you do it.
10. You have to be overwhelmingly passionate about what you do – I’ve seen so many people start businesses and then give up simply because the passion isn’t there. You can have a great idea and all the funds in the world but if you don’t love what you’re doing I can assure you that you won’t be willing to put up with the 9 points listed above. Especially if you’re just in it for the money. Because like I said, there won’t be money for awhile and you’ll need to reinterpret what success looks like for you. But with passion, anything is possible!
BONUS: Taxes suck. That is all.
* * * * *
Despite everything, quitting my corporate job and running THM full-time was easily the best decision I have ever made both professionally and personally. I have learned more in the past 4 years than I had in the 25 years prior. I’ve developed confidence I never knew I could and skills I never knew I should. I challenged myself in the most intense ways and have come out better, stronger, wiser on the other side.
So to any of you looking to quit your corporate job, these are the points no one will tell you, but I can guarantee that anyone who has committed to turning their passion into a career will also say that it is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer.
Take the leap! Jump in.
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BrilLanceJuly 13, 2020 at 2:26 pm
I am so happy I found your article. 🙂 I need to read this practical advice.
Nokri BankOctober 20, 2019 at 5:33 am
Very nice article. Thank you for sharing it. Very nice work
Bloggin BrandiJuly 2, 2019 at 8:27 pm
Awesome! Very interesting and motivational post! Some times you just have to take a leap of faith! Thanks for sharing!
Sanskriti MishraJuly 1, 2019 at 6:45 am
Hi, It’s so scary and overwhelming but i know i need to do it. It’s almost a year that i run a blog and now I am about to quit my day job to do it full time. I am also launching a clothing line (formals). I am typing this msg from my corporate office as today is my last day here. this blog was just what I needed.
Gail OwenApril 24, 2019 at 6:53 am
I’m on my way to doing this. Thanks for the inspirational post 🙂
Mark ButlerMarch 15, 2019 at 9:56 pm
Great post! I left a 6 figure corporate job of 12 years to start my own company about 2 months ago. Fortunately I have money saved to live on until I can build my business to supply more income, however the biggest struggle that I have had was just leaving a social environment where I had a lot of people to talk with all the time. Now it is just me and one other guy in an office and a feel like I am floating out in the middle of the ocean sometimes. I’m trying to incorporate social activities into my life like Toastmasters but there’s definitely a void. Any suggestions would be most appreciated
Salima SaundersFebruary 19, 2019 at 3:25 pm
This came at the best time for me! I am working right now to try and be ok with the in-between, when I don’t have clients or projects! I just started a cooking class to fill my time while I can!
Brian HarnerSeptember 7, 2018 at 8:53 am
I did leave the corporate world. Had a successful business as a financial advisor and then failed. I’m not back in the corporate world and am miserable everyday. If I could give one piece of advice it would be once you leave never go back. Find a way to not go back. I’m at a point I don’t know what to do. I’m miserable every single day just trying to survive each day and lving for the weekends. It’s not a good way to live.
CallyJanuary 22, 2020 at 1:07 pm
Try again. You’re going to make it.
huieeMay 27, 2018 at 10:23 pm
Thanks for sharing! I feel so lucky when i accidentally found your blog.
It is really inspiring to me, especially at this moment when I am struggling between business and regular paychecks.
They are still a lot to go and figure it how to run the wellness business in Asia.
Jamie WilliamsApril 13, 2018 at 1:56 pm
Thank you so much, I really needed to hear this. I’m transiting into working from home and it’s not easy at all. I don’t expect to make much for the first 6 months but I believe I can make decent income if I keep on pushing. Awesome post!
jordan @ dancing for donutsApril 2, 2018 at 3:07 pm
this post is more helpful than you could ever know!! thank you for being real with us – i’ve been struggling with the idea of going freelance for at least 6 months now and it’s always good to see these honest opinions on it. you’re so inspiring and i admire your hustle!!
Selena SharplessMarch 29, 2018 at 11:26 am
It amazes me how much your content and past resonates with me Davida! Last year was one of the craziest years for me in a sense where I finally listened to my intuition (withdrew from a very prestigious doctorate program as I think I told you about!) and am hustling right now to pursue what I know is in my heart. Your story is so inspiring and I feel SO motivated after reading this to keep trekking. I started a corporate job at the beginning of this year and was thrown into that mentally draining state yet again, but definitely came out of it knowing one day I will be my own boss and realizing how much my mind needs to be creative and learn. My path is so NON linear but slowly learning to embrace this and I appreciate how honest you are with your own journey! It definitely encourages me as I pave my own way. THANK YOU!