I worked at a large, multi-national investment bank for over a decade before I started my writing career. It can take a huge leap of faith, but working for oneself has a number of amazing benefits!
Of course, there are also many different challenges involved in leaving a typical 9-5 job; and it has to be said that such a move isn’t a good fit for everyone. There’s a lot of self-discovery that comes with working for yourself.
Yes, working for yourself has a lot of perks: you get to set your own hours, wear pajamas all day, and spend the day with your pet! But, it’s important to remember that it’s still a job, and even if you can binge-watch Netflix all day, unlike your regular job, you’re not going to get paid if you don’t do any work!
So, before you make a move to full-time freelancing or setting up your own shop, it’s important to ask yourself some tough questions. Do you have the necessary discipline to work as your own boss? Are you able to market yourself, your skills, and your services? You’ll be responsible for bringing in clients as well as performing the work.
A lot of creatives have a tough time working outside of traditional employment environments because they lack the marketing skills necessary to build and sustain a viable business.
In many ways, my decision to leave the corporate workforce was made for me. When the financial collapse occurred, my entire group was let go. I decided to use my severance package to take some time to consider my next step.
After 12 years of 80+ work weeks and a lot of stress, I was pretty burned out. After a year of kind of hanging out in Manhattan, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted my next chapter to look like. First, I decided to relocate to somewhere less frenetic, and expensive, than New York. With that change, making the pivot to a more creative career was probably a lot easier than if I had stayed in the city. Somehow, the first year or so I kept finding myself back in finance roles, but within the tech industry, until one day I was finally ready to make my move.
Many people suggest beginning your creative career as a sort of side hustle to make sure that it’s what you really want to do, and to see if it is indeed a viable career path. This advice never worked for me, because as long as I was working a “real job” my writing dreams stayed on the back burner and nothing much materialized.
Everyone’s experience is different, and mine was definitely a process. There were a lot of stops and starts during the first few years until I finally cut the cord completely. Once I lept in with both feet, I finally felt like a “real” writer.
Sure, there have been challenges, not all financial, since I started writing full-time, but I wouldn’t trade this reality for anything! I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and now that I am making money and have a more stable business, I am able to spend more time on my personal fiction writing.
Before making any big changes I would try to map out some loose ideas of where you want to be in a few years with your new career. And I would also check your passion and commitment levels. The beginning, especially, can be tough, and if you don’t believe in your abilities, it would likely be an even more challenging experience. Make sure that you understand your strengths and weaknesses, and have a couple of back-up plans in case you need them!
All in all, the process was a bit meandering in my experience, but it has now gotten to the point where I have satisfying work, make enough money to afford a good quality of life, and I am able to continue to grow as both a person and a writer. Try some different things as you explore the possibility of leaving a traditional job to start your own business, as you never know where they may lead!
I wish you luck on your journey, and if you ever have any questions or need some support, feel free to reach out. And remember, nothing is forever, if you give it a try and it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to a “real” job!