Making the switch from employee to entrepreneur

One of my loyal readers asked, “…how to make the transition from day job to copywriting full time? I’m sure it’s done to death.” It sure has habibi but I’m gonna tell you anyway. Uncle Nabeel finna give you the medicine.

Step #1: Eat peepeepoopoo for a while

You need to find at least 5 hours a week to work on your business. That’s less than an hour a day. Where will you find it? It doesn’t matter where. You’ll make the time and do what it takes. You likely spend several hours a day scrolling social media, watching YouTube or doing something else that doesn’t make you any money.

Spend that time developing skills, finding clients and servicing clients. Don’t spend it faffing about on getting logos and business cards and building an eyesore of a website using Wix or Squarespace. You don’t even need a website to get started.

Step #2: Unfalafel your ideas about money

It’s cute to say, “I just want to follow my passion and do what I love, I don’t really care about money.” Until you have bills to pay and mouths to feed. I got bills to pay and mouths to feed. So the first part is optimizing for your happiness.

Happiness for me is being able to buy five plane tickets on short notice to go see my parents in Sri-Lanka or Germany. Or buying my mother a 1st class ticket to Dubai when she tells me she wants to visit. Or sparing no expense in homeschooling my children. Or being able to set up my very own home gym for powerlifting and weightlifting.

Even if you are single… Imagine being able to take a cab whenever you want without caring about the fare. Imagine going out for a meal with friends and picking up the tab without thinking ‘I hope I have enough money in my account’. Imagine being able to effortlessly write a check for a charitable donation. Money gives you options. When you have enough, you can choose to do what makes you happy.

The second part is optimizing for your client’s happiness.

  1. Clients pay me for the value I create
  2. The more money I make the more value I can create
  3. Money is the simplest measure of the value I create in the world

Clients pay me for the value I create.

I’m a copywriter but clients don’t pay me to write words. They pay me to solve their problems through writing words. The better you are at solving your client’s the more he will be willing to pay you. He is happy to pay you. When you become the only one who can solve his problems, price is no longer an object. You can charge whatever you want.

The more money I make the more value I can create.

By investing the money you make back into your business, you’re able to create even more value. It could be something as simple as hiring a personal assistant or an accountant so you can spend more time working on and not in your business.

In my case for example I could invest in software to help my clients make more sales. Or hire more copywriters so we can produce more work for clients. I can now solve more of my client’s problems, making him more happy. In turn, he rewards me by paying me more money. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Money is the simplest measure of the value I create in the world.

It’s hard getting people to buy. Getting someone to open their wallet and give you their hard-earned money is the second-most intimate thing you can do with them. The fact you can get people to buy from you is proof you are able to make them happy.

Don’t put limitations on yourself before you even start. Working for yourself is not easy. Don’t artificially limit yourself with the wrong mindset about earning money. You are setting yourself up for failure before getting started.

Step #3: Your real job is ‘Salesman’

Say you want to start a solo accounting practice. What’s the first thing you do? Set up an LLC? Design a logo? Launch a website? None of these things. The only thing you need to do is try to get your first three customers. Until you get your first 3 customers that is the only thing you will be doing. And the way you get those customers is by talking to people who may need your services.

“If you are an author, you are not an author. You are a marketer and a salesman.” – Mike Cernovich

If you can’t get people to pay for your services, you are just another starving artist. If no one reads your blog you don’t have a blog you have a diary. Yes you have to be good at your craft. But being able to market yourself and close sales is the single most important skill you need for success. In my business, this is where I spend most of my time.

Step #4: Give yourself room to fail

Don’t burn the boats. That’s a sucker’s play. Especially if you have responsibilities. Mitigate risk by making a gradual transition from your job to your business. Don’t quit your day job until:

  • Your business income equals your salary three months in a row PLUS
  • You have six months of living expenses saved up

First, you’ll know your side gig works and you can make more money if you spent more time on it because you have the numbers to back it up. Second, you have a cushion of savings if things go horribly wrong for you. Third, and most important, an immense amount of pressure has been taken off you.

You now have the flexibility to focus on quality of work over quantity. You don’t have that air of desperation because you need to close that client to pay your bills. You can work on the projects and for clients you want to, rather than have to. You can also feel comfortable charging what you are worth, rather than competing on price.

In Summary

  • Carve out a MINIMUM of 5 hours per week where you work on your business
  • Reframe how you think about money: you are creating value in the world and you deserve to be compensated accordingly
  • You MUST get comfortable marketing yourself and asking for the sale if you want your business to grow
  • Burning your boats is overrated: nothing will ruin your ability be your own boss more than NEEDING to close that one client just to pay the bills

If you’ve successfully transitioned from full-time job to working for yourself, did you the same or different? Let me know in the comments.

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Nabeel writes a daily email to an audience of business owners, marketers and copywriters. Subscription to this newsletter is by invitation only. The only way to get on the list is by becoming a client, joining his community or buying one of his products.

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