I quit my full-time job 12 months ago.
The 9-5 was never for me. I had this terrible but common tendency where every time I started a new job I started slowly detesting it until it got to the point where I’d dread going to work every day.
The constant repetitive tasks for jobs that I didn’t give two shits about drove me insane.
While I was working full-time, I’d also set up my online shop. It had been live for almost a year and was only making a few hundred bucks a month, but I knew that working for someone else was no longer an option, especially if I had the ability to make money doing what I was passionate about – design and travel. So I made the switch.
Over 12 months later I can say that it’s been one hell of a year, with a million ups and downs and a learning curve steeper than Mt Everest. A few of you showed interest in finding out about making the switch after my post on 10 reasons why travel is better than your office job, so here are 6 things about my current life as an entrepreneur that might have been nice to know beforehand.
1. I work harder now than I did when I worked full-time
Most entrepreneurs hope to create a job where they can work less, not more, but setting up a business… lets just say the time and hard work it takes is significantly higher.
Did you know that I currently work 3 jobs? On top of running this blog, I do graphic design for my other business Polkadot Stationery, and I spend 1-2 days per week in a local print shop.
The average working week in Australia is about 38-40 hours. My average week is about 50 hours which is scattered between business hours, evenings, and weekends. Right now I’m finishing off this post at 10:30PM on a Thursday night. What kind of crazy person am I?
Even though I work so much now, it’s mostly doing things I enjoy so my happiness level has gone way up since I quit working full-time!
2. I’ve spent a lot time of time working for free
I started Polkadot Stationery in late 2011 and spent an entire year getting it set up before I made a dime. This was all outside of business hours as I had other full-time work. My weeknights and weekends were often spent working on my business.
As I’m sure you know, blogs don’t just pop up and start raking in the money – most blogs take years to get to a point where they can be monetized, so the past 5 months of hypothetical sweat and tears on AGWT has been completely unpaid.
I do it all in the hopes that one day in the not too distant future, I’ll be able to make enough money to live off and not have to work for someone else.
3. I didn’t need to be rich to start my business
When I first started Polkadot Stationery, I made the mistake of thinking that starting a business would cost money. I purchased advertising through wedding websites and put money into printing samples, and it got me… a big load of nothing.
When I made that first dollar, it was not a result of me spending money on promotion. It was a result of trial and error with my products, descriptions, and photography until I hit a sweet spot and made my product into something that people wanted to buy.
If you don’t count my initial mistakes, then both of my businesses cost under $100 to start. Polkadot Stationery cost only .20c per item I added on Etsy. The costs of setting up AGWT were only a domain name, a WordPress theme (of which there are free options), and hosting.
Man, it sounds easy to start a business when I say it like that.
4. It’s nice to have a financial safeguard
While the point above states that you don’t have to be rich, it sure is nice having some money aside in case you need it.
I saved up a few thousand dollars while I was working full-time, to use as a safeguard once I started working for myself. It mostly sits in an account reasonably untouched, but it gives me confidence that I can keep doing what I’m doing without worrying about going broke.
In a worst-case scenario in which I was making no money, I could still have a roof over my head and food in my belly for 6 months. This is unlikely to happen as I am actually making some money, but if I have a slow month or need to purchase something in order to move forward, I have a backup.
5. I live on almost nothing
As mentioned on my about page, I live a minimalist lifestyle, scraping by on the basics so that I can work for myself, and any extra dollars I earn go towards travel.
I’ve kept a few guilty pleasures (no way am I giving up coffee!) but every other luxury is gone. We don’t own a tv and we gave up car ownership, we sleep on a mattress propped up on milk crates, we live in a share house with 4 people… there are no frills in this household.
In the interest of full disclosure – my income this year has been under $18,000 AUD. The average income in Australia is just under $58,000. That’s right, at the moment I’m earning $40,000 less than the national average, and not even close to minimum wage!
Living off almost nothing is a sacrifice I have to make, but in my opinion, giving up a few luxuries is entirely worth the benefit of working for myself.
6. my sanity is constantly questioned
My friends and family question my life choices when I have to say no to expensive dinners, or when they realise I’m living in a tiny share house, or when I work over entire weekends.
My readers question the opinions I put out there by occasionally telling me how wrong I am and how I don’t know what I’m talking about.
And I’m always questioning my own sanity, doubting whether all this work will eventuate into something that was worth spending all this time on.
One thing you need as an entrepreneur is the ability to take the opinions of others with a grain of salt, and understand that your own fears will need to be put aside in order to move forward.
Has it been worth it?
Absolutely. Working for yourself is as freeing as running through a field of flowers with sunshine glistening in your hair. With no one around to tell you what to do, you feel as though anything is possible.
It takes a buttload of self-discipline, but the flexibility to have a mid afternoon nap or to take the day off when you want to is pretty damn great. If you want to work in your underwear, ain’t nobody gonna stop you!
While I can’t exactly say that I’ve “made it” working as entrepreneur just yet, I’m certainly well on my way and there’s no way I’m giving up now.
I’m sure many other entrepreneurs would agree that once you’ve worked for yourself, you can never go back to working full-time for someone else. It’s just not in our nature.
You have to be one tough cookie to take the leap into working for yourself. It will take a lot of hard work and determination, but the satisfaction of creating your own success doing something you love makes every second worth it.
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