by Jenna Kutcher
Today I am sharing the 5 steps I took before leaving my 9 to 5 job and I’m walking you through all the different things I did before taking the leap into full time entrepreneurship. A lot of times people get really hung up on when to make that transition and I want to lead you through the things I did before I was ready to hand in my two week notice and really make a go at things. I am really excited about this episode because it answers one of the questions I hear most often from entrepreneurs.
Start off on the right foot
I hired an accountant and filed with the state as an LLC: I wanted to be too legit to quit and make sure that I was starting out on the right financial foot and with some guidance. They have been instrumental in guiding me through each financial year of business!
It’s tempting to think you need to invest everywhere. Check out episode 55 where I break down how to know where to invest in your business. A graphic designer helped design a logo for me: while I couldn’t afford to have a custom website, I ran a blog with this logo on it and knew that I needed to post consistent work! I made business cards, a Facebook page, and this helped establish a brand and reputation.
Speaking of investments
Don’t go into debt for your business, ever: I used my corporate job to help fund my creative endeavors and it was a slow process! I bought cameras from Craigslist, pinched pennies, and made sure that when I did profit, I was re-investing back into my business.
Leverage advertising to help find clients: I was living in a village of 1,200 people, I knew no one, I had zero connections, and I was working around the clock. I invested hundreds each month to get my name out and fill my calendar, it worked and after that first year, I didn’t have to pay to advertise anymore!
Start growing a following
Long before we had even conceptualized an actual business plan, we started two very important things: an Instagram account (@kickingitwithkutch) and an email list. Our first priority was to grow the following on the platforms we know best. Instagram to build the trust and personality of the business and more importantly, an email list where we could serve the clientele and eventually sell to them.
What did we do? We created two freebies for the email list: a free grocery shopping list/food plan and a weeks worth of at home workouts. Both of these were free downloads and grew Drew’s email list quickly. We set goals for subscribers and dreamt up new ways we could foster a true community before the time came to launch and offer services/products. Thinking you might eventually want to start a business? Start growing your email list and following TODAY. That way, when the time does come to launch, you have people who are already at the edge of their seats ready to cheer you on!
Fill your calendar
Before I leapt, I had matched my salary. I worked up until my wedding season started. I knew I needed 25 weddings to match my corporate salary so I hustled and booked 25 clients. That gave me the affirmation that I would be getting paid for the next year and had time to make it work! This made making the leap less risky and way easier! But most importantly, know your numbers. Check out my customizable pricing guide to make sure you’re not pricing emotionally and tune in to episode 56 where we break down business finances with Shanna Skidmore.
Insurance switched to Drew’s employer: I knew I couldn’t leap without having insurance, so we switched our insurance over from my employer to Drew’s before I quit. It ended up being a giant blessing because I had to have an emergency foot surgery a month before I quit and we had double insurance! God is good!
Look fear in the face
It’s scary as heck, but when I realized that if I did happen to fail, I would be okay. I didn’t burn bridges, I worked hard through the end, I had experience and a degree to fall back on! I had to just make the leap and know that even if “failure” occurred, I could make it work.
Don’t use my story as a roadmap – Taking that leap will look different for everyone. For me, I needed to know the net would be there when I jumped. For some, jumping and making it happen works better. I loved the security of knowing I had a full calendar and while that letter was hard to hand in, I never looked back. In my fifth year, I still feel blessed every single morning to wake up and report to the world’s best boss (me!) My best advice is to set yourself up for success and have sound business practices in place so that you can free yourself up creatively. While creative small business owners rock out the creative process, the business side of things is usually where the trouble occurs so make sure that you are legal, you have systems, you aren’t in the red, and you’re ready to hit the ground running and shout from the rooftops that you are a photographer, maker, florist!
I am not an extraordinary case! I had zero connections, lived in a tiny village away from home, and was burning the candles from both ends working the corporate job by day and building an empire by night. Being self taught doesn’t mean you have to be paid less and looking back, I am proud that I recognized that from the very beginning. There will be a lot of “fake it ’til you make it” moments (heck, there still are!) and a lot of days of uncertainty, but when you feel unsure of your call, remember the one who called you in the first place! You can do this, you deserve to chase your dreams, pour into yourself, invest in your business, set yourself up for success, and let me know how it feels when you can finally say, “I am a photographer!”