To quote one of my favorite movie characters, Clark Griswald: “Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?”
OK, let me ’splain. On Monday of this week, I quit a steady, full-time, salaried job to follow my bliss as a freelance writer, editor and media consultant.
It's official, I iz an entrepreneur. Without a safety net. For the first time, well… ever. Goodbye regular paycheck, hello risk and uncertainty. Can you say, “dramatic lifestyle change??” Eeek!
Yep, I am definitely feeling equal parts hallelujah and holy shit, with a generous side of acetaminophen required.
I’m pleased to say that the “take this job and shove it” meeting with my boss netted the best possible outcome, probably because I didn’t actually tell her to shove anything. (It’s been a good job; I just don’t want it anymore.)
No, I simply told her about my plans to follow my passion and offered three weeks’ notice, as well as my freelance services for as long as she might need them. She congratulated me and accepted my offer to contract with the company while she searches for my replacement.
It was all good, as my teenage son would say.
When I started my business last fall, I set a goal to be out on my own by March 1, and I am pretty damn close. My last day as a corporate employee will be March 8. And my last corporate paycheck will drop March 15. (I’m betting that will be the day I have a nervous breakdown, if I’m going to have one. Which I don’t think I will. But consider yourself warned, just in case.)
Anyhoo, this is a huge deal for me on a couple of levels. First, I haven’t been jobless since 1995, and that was only because I had a baby that year. I’ve worked for someone else since the day I turned 16 in 1988.
Second, the circumstances are not 100 percent perfect. I don’t have the recommended six months of expenses saved up. I have a little more than half of that, which is better than nothing, but not ideal. And I’ve still got a few lucrative client opportunities up in the air, aka they may not work out. I won’t be screwed if they tank, but it would be A LOT better if they don’t.
Despite all this, I realized over the past couple weeks that my salaried job is soon going to suffer dramatically because my freelance workload has picked up to the point of OH MY GOD HOW WILL I GET IT ALL DONE??, and I did not want to burn that bridge. Plus, it’s a basic fact that I can’t build my business effectively if I’m not available to dedicate the majority of my time to it.
In my heart, I knew that right now, it was time to piss or get off the pot...... Just call me Tinkle Toes! (Ba dum bum ching! Thank you, folks … I’ll be here all week.)
To my credit, I did a hell of lot of legwork to get here.
I met with my accountant and SCORE business counselors. I formed an LLC. I purchased a web domain, built a website. I upgraded equipment for my home office. I created a simple business plan and a budget.
I networked my ass off. I connected or reconnected with oodles of business contacts, via a self-imposed quota of reaching out to at least three to five people per week, every week. I built my brand through this blog, social media and published work via Business First, The Voice-Tribune and other outlets. I took on every project that came my way, large or small.
I also refinanced my house to lower my monthly payment and worked on reducing some other bills. I socked away as much cash as I could in savings. I met with a savvy insurance agent and got quotes on individual life and health policies. It turns out they are not nearly as scary as I thought (that was a BIG hallelujah moment!).
I probably missed a few things or could have done more, but I’m pretty proud of the groundwork I’ve laid so far.
I will say that I’m very grateful to have maintained the fallback of a corporate job during the past six months because it gave me the freedom to make mistakes without worrying that I would end up living in the back seat of my car. I’ve learned a lot about pricing jobs and how to ensure I get paid what I’m worth … which is valuable knowledge when your livelihood depends on it, right?
So yeah, I’m really doing it -- I’m going to work for myself! (I have to be cheesy for just a moment and say that this new boss of mine is a real piece of work. Heehee.)
When I left my house on Monday with the intent to give notice that day, I felt a sense of buoyancy I’ve never felt before. I’m sure there will be tough times ahead, but this decision -- at this time in my life -- feels so RIGHT. I just want to run around shouting, “Yaay!” at the top of my voice.
I’ll end this post with another quote, one that sums up my new adventure. It’s song lyrics from a band I loved in college, The Soup Dragons:
“I’m free / to do what I want / any old time! / And I’m free / to be who I choose / any old time! ... Don’t be afraid of your freedom!”
Wait for it……Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.