A CodeNewbie's Diary
- From CodeNewbie To Full Time Freelancer -
Part 7: The Exit Strategy
In the previous posts I discussed my beginnings, training, finding clients, tools, niching, etc., and up to this point I was still working my regular full time job.
But it quickly became too much to handle. And this is actually a good thing…temporarily.
In this post I want to discuss my exit strategy, and what I find to be the three key steps in finally leaving any day job and beginning as a full time freelancer:
Step 1: Find Work
Step 1 is simple, and already discussed: Find work. Whether it’s reaching out to friends, running ads, networking, cold calling, Upwork, just start taking on projects and building relationships with clients.
Step 2: Reach Max Capacity
At first, things are good. You build a website or do some custom work….you get another lead, another project.
Eventually, you will start to feel uncomfortable with the load as you grow your network and increase the amount of work you are taking on.
And ultimately you will want to take on as much as you can handle…to the point where you almost feel overloaded.
Why do this?
Because if you stay comfortable with a job here and a job there, you will never get to the point where you have enough work to leave your other job. You have to be increasing your workload continually to ensure you can cover the costs of venturing out on your own.
Step 3: Give Your Notice & Persevere
Now here is the absolute hardest part of the exit strategy. Once you are almost overloaded and overwhelmed with work, give your notice. Whether its 2 weeks or 28 days, it is always good to leave on good terms with your employer and completing the required amount of days.
Now the reason I say this is the hardest part is because you will have to maintain your workload while finishing out your time at your day job. This will essentially be almost two full time jobs!
The worst thing that can happen is if you begin losing clients because you fall behind or mention that you can’t help them out for another month. No! You have to keep these clients as you need them still with you when your job ends!
So in this last step, just accept the fact that you are going to have to work many nights and weekends until the transition happens.
Thankfully, its only for a brief time.
My Own Transition
My work required a 28 day notice and I delayed a few weeks longer than I should have before giving this.
After working 10 years at my job, it was just hard to actually do it….to say I was leaving.
The benefits, the stability of pay, doubt, all played a role in my delay.
So by the time I finally did it I was completely overloaded with work. I didn’t want to tell clients to just wait 28 more days and then I could get to them. I could not risk losing that income now that I was leaving my “stable” job.
In addition, I needed the extra money coming in to set aside for this new adventure.
I came to the resolution that I could do anything for 28 days, especially when there is an end in sight.
So I spoke to my family, mentioned that I would be largely occupied for the next 28 days, and they were totally supportive.
I had already been doing most of my work in a Starbucks located inside of a local Kroger grocery store. When I left work at 3 p.m. every day I would go there and work until about 7. Then I would go home, spend an hour or two with the wife and kids and then get back on it from about 9-11, and then back up at 5 a.m. to report to work.
And I did this every day but Saturday (worked at home) and Sunday (I don’t work on Sunday).
It was hard, but again, anyone can do most anything for 28 days when there is an end in sight.
So to recap, there are three steps to your exit strategy. First you find work, second you reach your max capacity, and third you give your notice and persevere.
You absolutely want to do whatever it takes to keep the side work coming in and coming in strong. This assures that you will have enough after the transition.
How have you handled the transition out of your job and into your freelance career? Were you overwhelmed? I would love to hear about it in the comments.