Don’t give up your day job until it’s economically irrational to continue—it really is that simple.
BY TJ Walker
Of all the time-wasting navel-gazing, tedious questions that entrepreneurs and would be gurus toy with, this take the cake. It’s actually easy to figure out when to quit your job.
If you make $4000 a month and you can take, on average, 2 days a month of vacation and sick leave, and you are now doing part-time consulting, training or speaking at $2000, then the math is simple. If you are constantly booking two days or fewer a month of outside gigs, then you use your vacation/sick time and you can now make up to $8,000 a month with no risk to your base salary. If you aren’t generating at least the same about of monthly salary income from what you can do selling your time on your vacation days, then don’t even think of quitting your job.
If, all of a sudden, you are booking three days a month at $2000 a day, then you have a slight dilemma because you can only take 2 days off without being penalized. Again, look at the math. If your boss will let you take an unpaid day off, your daily wage is only $200 per day ($4000 a month divided by 20 working days a month). So if you can sell a day of consulting/speaking/training for $2000 and it only costs you $200 from your employer, you are still up $1800. This math can work in your favor often for up to five days a month before your employer says “enough already, either work for us full time or leave!”
The easiest way to leave a full time job without stress of wondering if you are doing the right thing is to already have enough business lined up so that you will be making more money in your first full month without your fulltime job salary than you were before.
Conversely, the easiest way to end your dreams of becoming a guru or a full-time, highly paid expert is to quit your job too soon and not have the necessary savings or new income to make your new venture work. Because if you can’t pay your rent or put foot on the table, you aren’t going to be a credible expert to anyone on anything. If your new business hasn’t gained traction and all of a sudden you have to go back into the full-time job market and take the first job that comes your way out of desperation, then you will surely regret the day you ever thought of becoming an expert or guru. It doesn’t have to be this way if you plan accordingly.
For starters, there are two main types of full-time jobs. One type is relevant to your area of expertise. Let’s say you are a college professor of business management and you rare sick and tired of academic bureaucracy, students, needless paperwork, etc. You want to become a fulltime business management writer, speaker, and trainer and work on your own. In this case, your job is 100% directly relevant to your future career aspirations. I would recommend that you suck it up, and just treat your academic position as a significant “client” who pays the bills.
On the other hand, let’s say you want to become the world’s leading expert on collecting pre-1920 American pennies and your current job is working in a coal mine. The mining job isn’t building your credibility or knowledgebase for the coin collecting—all it is doing is paying bills. Just remember this: ability to pay bills is very very good. Don’t give up the power to do this lightly.
Another avenue that people often overlook is the ability to continue to work part-time or on a consulting basis with their current employer as they begin their new careers. Many employers like this arrangement. For you, the budding guru, it take a great deal of pressure off if you can work only 2 weeks a month at a job and still have 70% of your monthly financial nut taken care of. It never ceases to amaze me how many budding entrepreneurs overlook the option of landing their first consulting client in their niche when it is staring them right in the eyes I the form of their current employer.
You might hate your job, but at some point in your guru career, you might not like some of your clients or some of the tasks you have to do. You must keep proper perspective on this and not turn away revenue that may be necessary to fund your business—and make no mistake about it, being a guru is a business.
Ideally, you periodically raise your fees, certainly every year, and you eliminate the least profitable clients you have. If you take this attitude, then it will only become a matter of time before you “fire” your current job because it is no longer economically rational for you to continue the relationship. And that will be a very nice day indeed.