The transition from 9-5 to self-employed

At a young age, I worked on market stalls trying to earn some money for myself, which gave me first-hand experience in how business works. Down the line, I ended up working in IT for 20 years before deciding that this was no longer what I wanted to do. I guess it was safe to say I didn’t know much about business when I started, but I knew there was a gap in the market where corporate and commercial organisations needed to tap into diverse and hard-to-reach audiences but had challenges engaging with them. I decided to take a risk and make the transition from the corporate world to self-employed, here is how I did it.

Where did I start?

Anyone would say that starting a business is far from easy. The hardest part is coming up with a business idea. 42% of start-up businesses fail because there’s no market need for their services or products. I already had an idea of what kind of business I wanted to start, however, if this is something you are struggling to come up with I would suggest brainstorming and mind mapping all the ideas you have. Having a large number of ideas will make it easier to pinpoint potential business ventures as you’ll have a pool of ideas to choose from. Eventually, you’ll be able to narrow it down to one. With any business idea weighing up the pros and cons is essential to see what will be beneficial and what won’t be. I identified a gap in the market so I knew this was something people would respond to. The term “gap in the market” refers to the disparity between supply and demand for a particular product or service. In other words, it refers to a market demand that has yet to be fulfilled. For businesses, this represents an opportunity to expand their consumer base.

Building a team

When I decided to start my own business it was just me. No manager, no colleagues, no team, just myself. It was overwhelming at times as now all decisions had to be made by me. Working a 9-5 I had other people I could go to which lessened the workload on my shoulders but being self-employed this wasn’t the case. Working a corporate job gave me the security of knowing I had a team that supported me and could help along the way; therefore, I was determined to emulate that by building a team for my newfound business. I sought after people from all different backgrounds so that each person would offer a different experience in various fields whether it be business, film, or technology I was flexible. I also made sure I had a vision for my business and shared this with my growing team so that they would have an understanding of what I was trying to achieve and how. This is imperative and at most times overlooked which could lead to the business drifting in a different direction than what was set out originally. Therefore, commit to the vision and if necessary remind your team every once in a while of the objectives and goals which you have set out.

Failures and setbacks

It was daunting to step out and start my own business. In my previous job I didn’t have to worry about if I would be paid that month, I had set hours I would work, but that all changed when I became self-employed. Having two young children at the time I questioned myself whether I was making the right choice if I would be able to provide for them. One thing I quickly learned about being an entrepreneur is that you must be prepared to take risks. I have experienced losses, failures but I never would’ve known if I didn’t take the risk, now I can learn from my mistakes and evaluate where I went wrong. With 60% of businesses failing in the first three years I was determined not to be part of that statistic, I wanted to be successful, so I refused to allow my setbacks to hinder me. Having survived two recessions I am going strong and working as hard as I can. Running my own business there’s never set hours I work; I’m constantly working around the clock which is challenging at times but is one of the things that come with being self-employed. I love my job and the flexibility that comes with it. Since making this transition over 20 years ago I have been able to travel to countries I only ever dreamed of going to and I have been able to take care of my family which makes this all worthwhile.

Weighing up the benefits and drawbacks of working 9-5 and becoming self-employed is so important. Is it worth it? Can I afford it? What makes my business idea unique? These are just a few questions you need to ask yourself, and if most of your answers are no then it’s worth going back to the drawing board or holding onto your 9-5 a little longer. I share all of this to encourage you so that you’re inspired to turn your hobby into a full-time job. Who knows where you might end up? I did not imagine I’d be where I am today, but I look back and I’m glad I made the transition when I did.

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