I remember the day like it was yesterday. My wife and I excitedly sipping on a fresh bottle of Italian champagne. Enjoying the sunshine, anxiously awaiting our summer travels to Italy in just a few short weeks.
Life was good. I finally did it. I finally left my job.
For the past 4 years, I was unhappy. I was tired of working for someone else. I was burnt out on attending company meetings. I was fed up with constant policy changes. I didn’t enjoy my job anymore.
The funny thing was, my background was not in business. Not in computer programming. I am not a tech guy. I am a licensed physical therapist in the state of California.
I had a good job. It paid well. My wife and I made a nice living, in a very expensive part of California. I owned my own home. We had two paid for cars. Things were pretty good, right?
It would have been easy to accept the golden handcuffs. But, in life, we get what we tolerate, and I wanted freedom.
So I made the jump. June, 5th 2015.
One year from today.
This past year has been full of ups and downs, and more stress than I imagined.
In celebration of my first full-time year online, I thought I would share some of my biggest lessons learned. I also want to open up and talk about some of the fears I experienced while taking the leap.
Expect a Rollercoaster…
As an employee, getting a regular paycheck every 2 weeks, I got used to having a consistent budget.
I knew how much money I was going to have each month. The bad news was there was a ceiling on how much I could earn and I had to give my time for X amount of money per hour. The good news was I had a floor or minimum amount of money each month.
When I said good-bye to my steady paycheck, all of that went away. I was free, but I had to produce.
Now to be clear, I was not starting at ground zero. My partner Michael and I had created a profitable brand, Hangouts That Convert, and I was attracting a few clients who wanted coaching on either hosting webinars or building an online business.
Even still, my monthly income was up and down.
My highest earning month of the past year was $25,853.35 from the Webinar Mastery Summit Michael and I had hosted interviewing 25 of the biggest names in webinar marketing.
The income was great but by the time we had paid affiliates and I had given Michael his half, I was left with less than $10,000 in profits for myself.
My highest individual month came last month with $16,411 dollars in revenue from my webinar and pilot group launch for the Webinar Mastery Academy, my flagship webinar training program.
During my lowest month, December, I only brought in $1,100. Yikes.
During the November, December, and January months, I was phasing out Hangouts That Convert, so Michael and I had stopped hosting webinars and doing promotions for our flagship program, the Hangouts That Convert Success System. No webinars meant very few sales.
My reason for sharing this is in the beginning, you may experience wild swings in income while you look to create your primary brand, build your audience, and create your flagship offer. After you dial in your primary brand and offer, look to create more evergreen lead generation systems like a Facebook advertising funnel.
Tips for Taking the Plunge….
I was extremely nervous about leaving a very nice income, even though I was making some money online and had a good amount of savings.
My coach at the time, George Kao, gets credit for giving me the push I needed to leave my job.
Here are a few tips, based on my experience and personality, for taking the plunge and giving your job the boot.
1. Have a Burn Rate of 3-6 Months Before You Jump.
I am not a heavy risk taker. I am willing to take a risk (like quitting my job to work in my online business), but not without some sense of security.
We have all heard an awesome story where an employee flips off his/her boss and walks out the door with no plan, daring to make it or go broke. While this sounds sexy, I wouldn’t recommend it.
These make it or break it stories are rare, and you only hear of the few who actually pull it off, not the thousands who go broke, get kicked out of their apartment and have to take an even worse job than before just to keep the lights on.
Before you leave your job, calculate your “burn rate.” Add up your expenses for each month including those annual expenses divided by 12. Then add up your savings. Take your savings and divide it by your monthly expenses. This is how long you can go before running out of dough.
Let’s say you saved $50,000 and your monthly expenses are $4,500. That means you have a “burn rate” of 11 months without any additional income. More than enough to take the plunge.
2. Expect A Lot of Anxiousness
I did not expect to feel so much stress during the past year. In the beginning, right after I quit my job, there was a feeling of freedom. I was traveling all summer to Europe, to Disneyland, to my sister’s wedding, and to Texas for a conference. I was living the dream.
After my dream life summer, reality came back. No more fun trips around the world. It was time to get back to work.
Long days on the computer. Cold calling. Email marketing. Planning out my next steps. Not so glorious.
The image of the freedom based entrepreneur had turned to reality. Which for me was a lot of hard work online, isolated and alone. There were many moments of loneliness. Not something that a lot of online entrepreneurs talk about.
Finding new clients. Pivoting to a new brand. Launching an online summit and follow-up program. All added a lot of stress and sleepless nights. I have to thank my partner for the Webinar Mastery Summit, Michael Bloom. Without his help, I would not have had the courage and bandwidth to pull it off.
While having your own online business is very liberating, be prepared to feel some heavy stress when you cut off your job income.
3. Have a Profitable Business Before You Quit
I touched on this before, but I feel if you don’t have some income coming in, some clients in the queue, that you will be very stressed for money.
When you are stressed for money, you will start to think too short-term, which is bad for business.
When stressed for money, you will show up differently to potential clients and for your audience that you need to be building a long-term relationship with.
I remember acting out of character a few times, trying to close a few clients with an extra push because I felt the stress of money. I didn’t want my savings to start draining.
Depending on your monthly expenses, I would recommend having a “burn rate” of at least 3 months and an income of at least half your monthly expenses before you consider making the jump.
The Biggest Fears I Faced
Fear or resistance as Steven Pressfield puts it, is the biggest opponent that we all face when stepping out of the norm and into the unknown.
Napoleon Hill in his masterpiece, Think and Grow Rich, lists the 6 core fears that all other fears are derived from.
The following fears were the biggest I faced while making the jump.
- Fear of Poverty- Cutting off my work income, was one of the hardest things I had to do. The fear of draining my savings if I couldn’t produce was very strong. Even though I had saved up a year’s worth of expenses, cutting the cord on a new income was still extremely difficult for me.
- Fear of Criticism- Mainly from my family. My lovely wife was very supportive and trusting in me to do the right things. Most of the apprehension came from my Father who was not sure “what I was doing.” I had a nice job, and any good parent will worry about their children’s well-being. The odds of someone replacing a nice income by starting an internet business are slim, so it is natural for those around you to try and “protect” you.
- Fear of the Unknown- This one is tied to the fear of poverty but also has some basic psychological foundations. The human brainstem, the reptilian brain, is programmed to protect you from harm not make you happy. It fears the unknown of an online business and thus, you feel “resistance” as a result.
- Fear of Failure- Tied strongly to the fear of criticism, fear of failure comes from the self-imposed paradigm of “I am not enough.” We all want to be significant. We all want to make an impact. It makes our lives meaningful. Meaning is something we all search for. Humans are meaning-making-machines. The embarrassment of failure both from self and from others will often stop us in our tracks.
Key’s to Overcoming My Fears and Succeeding
There is no magic bullet to building an online business. So stop looking. Stop chasing the latest Funnel Program or SnapChat course. If you are just starting out, you are not ready for funnels, value ladders, and you don’t need to be on every social network.
The first steps to starting an online business aren’t that sexy…
- Have a strong understanding of who you want to serve, their most urgent pains, and whether or not there is a profitable market there.
- Build an audience. If you don’t have an audience, you will not make the kind of income and impact you would like. Hosting webinars, guest blogging for larger sites, and creating awesome free content will help build your tribe. Don’t spend ALL your time blogging on your own site and creating videos because at this stage, there aren’t many people who are reading or watch your stuff. Do have a couple of nice blog posts on your site for people to read, though.
- Once you have an email database of a few hundred, you can “ask” them what they are struggling with in your particular niche. Surveys or asking in a Facebook group are options. Also, get on the phone with a few people in your ideal market.
- Launch a pilot program for your offer based on the feedback from your audience. Don’t spend months and months creating an online program that you have not pre-sold first. Create a sales page and see how many of your subscribers want what you are offering.
- If the program sells, create the program. If not, try to reposition the program offer and try again with your audience.
- If the program sells, take the program to partners. These are others in or around your industry that have an ideal audience for your program. One that would benefit from your program.
- After you have a program that has been validated to sell, build out your value ladder and funnel (if this is the business model you want). Your value ladder is a series of offers that provide options for people to get value from you at different price points.
- Test paid advertising into your funnel. I like Facebook Ads at this point.
- Look at your data, optimize your landing pages, email streams, and ads.
- Continue to iterate and improve.
Okay, I got off on a tangent there. I am obsessed with boiling down the BS and cutting to the core of things…These would be the steps I would advise any client of mine to follow.
Back to the Keys of Success…
- Desire. There is no hope for you if you don’t have a strong desire to achieve your goals. For me, I have a burning desire to create a life of freedom for my family. It consumes me. I am obsessed with it. I am also driven to be different. I never liked following the rules.
- Persistence. You are going to fail. I have launched two websites that went nowhere and more than a handful of online programs that sold zero. I have hosted sales webinars that sold zero. I have failed a lot over the past 4 years. Your desire to get right back up has to be strong. We all get down. You just can’t stay down too long. Those who are successful go from down to back up faster than others.
- Focus. There are too many distractions today. The term is called “Content Shock.” Since 2013, there is more content than the human brain can deal with. It is your job to completely ignore 99.9% of it. I personally don’t have TV (we have Amazon Prime for movie nights). I don’t watch the news, ever. I have a couple websites that keep me up-to-date in under 10 minutes a day but only after I have finished “my work.” I follow a strict media diet and it has paid off big time. I also ignore 99.9% of emails and gooroo courses now. I only buy a course if I am going to implement that information in the next three months. All others I ignore. Our time and attention are our most important assets, use every minute you have to bring you closer to YOUR goals.
My first full-time year online has been a rollercoaster. But the challenge and excitement that I have gotten from it are well worth it.
If you are looking to make the leap yourself, consider following the tips provided here. Also, be self-aware enough to know if now is the right time for you to leave your job.
If you enjoyed this article, please share this with your friends or followers who are looking to leave their job to create an online business. Perhaps my experience may give them insights into what it is like.