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7 things to realize before you can safely quit your day job

10 years ago (around 2004-2005) I realized that photography is what I want to do for a living. It became my dream and my passion. And It took me 8 years to quit my day job and dedicate myself to do what I truly love: photography and education.

Probably it took me longer than it should have, but I’ve chosen a long way and don’t regret any decision I’ve made on my way to freedom.

2013 was my last year I spent in a gray cubicle (I was an IT guy) and it was the hardest year in my whole career as IT specialist.
Hardest because I wanted to quit my full time job so desperately that inability to do so almost lead me to a depression. In this article I want to share with you a few lessons I’ve learned during this time.

  • Do not rely on your savings: instead, make sure your business is running at a maximum speed you can get at the time you decide to cut the flow of your income.

    Savings may help, but also may keep you too relaxed at times when you need to run things full throttle. A long waiting list of your assignment schedule will give you more security than a good deposit into a savings account.

  • Keep your day job as long as needed to feel financially secure with your business

    Keeping paycheck coming for as long as possible will let you to be more “picky” with your business clients, and hold on your pricing.

    It takes time to develop a strong client base, and having a freedom to say “No” for clients who you do not want to work with and not to lower your prices can help tremendously. With all your living expenses covered by paychecks you can invest in your photography much more (in percent from what you are making) comparing to a “real business”. Use this advantage to build a good and reputable foundation for your business.

  • Do not tell nor discuss your possible quit time at your work prior 2 week notice.

    Telling your boss that you are going to quit in 3-5 months may be a good idea only if you are really good friends with your boss and the company is small.

  • Run a photography business like it is your main source of income for a full year to learn yearly cycles and other oscillations on a projected income.

    You can’t judge how well your photography will be going based on 3-4 months performance. There will be periods of time when you’ll have less (or more) clients for several months in a row. Being operational for a full year will give you a better idea of such times.

  • Learn how to do your work fast. Be productive.

    Because you won’t have a lot of time to dedicate to your business, learn how to perform with a maximum productivity in both: your day job and your business.

    Chatting every 15 minutes and drinking coffee with your colleges? Not for you if you run a business at the same time. Be professional and build habits of highly productive people. There is a very little time left for the business after your work (and on weekends), and you better learn how to spend it wisely.

  • Surround yourself with like-minded people.

    If all of your friends can only dream about beer and TV after work and once-a-year vacation trip to the Bahamas, it is better to be alone than with friends like that. When I realized that among my friends I was the only one who wanted to talk about building your own business , I quit hanging out with them. Instead, we (my wife & I, co-owner of our business) started watching business training, and inspirational videos. We surrounded ourselves with virtual, but highly motivational people.

    It may sounds crazy, I know. But you have only 2 choices: stay where you are or move forward and build your freedom. You need to be surrounded by like-minded people. People who will support you, critique you and encourage you not to give up.

     

  • Stop watching TV. Stop reading gossip and political (just another gossip) news.

    They are not for you. All mass media works to entertain unhappy workers who hate their jobs, so they can keep doing it. Without such entertainment they won’t survive.

    Cut your self off from things which pull your attention away and soothes your pain from not having your dreams fulfilled. Concentrate on what is important for you and your goals. The prize at the end is well worth it!

Keep going, and one day you’ll make the transition:

Before

After

12 month later

Progress with studio setup


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7 responses on "7 things to realize before you can safely quit your day job"

  1. I’m at the other end from most of you, I think. I got a job working at a photo-processor. Developing and printing taught me a lot about photography. I decided to take it up, and started with the usual, for the time, a second hand 35mm SLR – I was so excited when I saved enough to buy a new Olympus OM1. My Dad gave me an old Rolliflex TLR and it was a revelation. I shot tranparencies and if you’ve never seen a 6×6 transparency , they’re glorious. Got a few small jobs, mostly estate agency work and eventually blew my entire saving on a Bronica ETRS 645 and two lenses.

    Anyway after a couple of years, I found I wasn’t enjoying it. I got into IT soon after, and have been in it ever since – going on 30 years now. Luckily I really like my job.

    So now I’m back into it again, but only for the pleasure of taking and making pictures. If I ever sell a picture that’ll be fine but I don’t think, at this stage of my life, I want to disillusion my self again.

  2. Great Advice Alex !!!

    I am another IT specialist, freelance in my case, but really bored and nearly sick of it after more than 30 years in IT. it is taking me a lot to move to photography, but I really look forward to.

  3. I quit my job in IT (yes similar cubicle life to Alex) as an IT specialist just about 3 months ago. I’ve been preparing for this for several years, and had been spending every night and weekend doing something to improve my photography. I’d been with the same company for 25 years, and grown so desperately unhappy in my work environment and finally I took early retirement and while it may take a while to grow a viable business, it’s been the best thing I’ve done for my mental health in ages!

    P.S. If I have nothing to do during the day, Photigy can keep me buried in projects and feedback.

  4. Thanks for sharing your insprational story. I stopped watching TV a long time ago and used the time to educate myself and improve my skills. I’ve given up my paid job recently and I’m trying to make it full time in photography and have no regrets. Even so, there are days when it’s tough. Today was one of those days, but reading your post continued to inspire me and remind me why I’m doing this. Thanks a lot.

  5. I have been an independent photographer for 2 years now. It is up and down. Hurry up and wait…

    I stopped watching TV 30 years ago and it changed my life, skills and gave me my life back. I live life rather than vicariously through others….

    I also build WordPress web sites to fill in the gaps as needed as I have those skills too.

    I would rather spend my time with the Pro Group here learning than watch even a second of TV…

  6. Good for you! You’re an inspiration for everyone!
    I have a BA in Computer Science and never bothered to get a job with it. I now have my own small business and found exciting things in life.

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