Becoming an Entrepreneur: When Should You Leave Your Office Job?

Knowing when it’s time to invest fully in your own business and say goodbye to your current employer can be tricky.  This article aims to cover the practical and financial considerations that can help you make the decision.

Many successful entrepreneurs start out balancing between secure jobs alongside setting up and managing their own business.  This requires self-discipline and sacrifice, yet also provides the safety net of guaranteed income whilst the emerging business is established. This was a major dilemma for me when I set up my cleaning company Happy Cleans.

There comes a time when it’s wise to ask where and how to best invest the limited resources of your time, focus, and energy. If you want your startup to survive it’s important to be committed. It’s easy to become stuck in the security of your 9 to 5 job.  Yet, if you want to follow your dreams, taking a risk is often required.

To help you navigate the way forward with this common dilemma, it can be fruitful to consider the potential pluses of leaving your office job behind:

Greater personal satisfaction

Unlike paid employment where you need to work to someone else’s rhythm and beat, entrepreneurship allows you to take on additional challenges that YOU want to work on, at your own pace, in your own time. Any success you experience is a direct result of your vision, your commitment, and your creativity.  There’s something hugely rewarding in that.

Financial gain

Salaried jobs give you a limited income, with the company benefitting from any profits.  Working for yourself comes with significant pay off if your business is on the right track: success means a significant financial gain for you.

Greater flexibility

The 9 to 5 office job often lacks flexibility.  In contrast, being your own boss allows you to modify your working hours!  You get to choose the hours and the time you invest in your everyday activities.

Choose your team

In employment, you rarely get full autonomy over who you get to work alongside. Entrepreneurship allows you to put together the best team, with the right skill set for your business goals.

Your values matter

Being your own boss allows you to align your business with your own personal goals and values. Your business reflects who you are and what you believe in.  That’s a real bonus for any employee who has the same mindset.  Full-time entrepreneurship offers you the freedom to stay loyal to your own values.

So, once you’ve had time to digest the potential benefits of full-time entrepreneurship, then it’s time to make a plan in regards to your next steps.  You need to have much more than just a passion and a dream if you are going to make it work in reality.

Generating profit from a new business isn’t always as quick or as easy as you might think.  Be realistic, and consider that a new or emerging business might struggle to turn a profit during the first year.  For this reason, it pays off to make a budget that saves enough money to pass thru the transition from being an employee to being an employer.

It also pays off to have other resources, including reliable networks and contacts, accessible and available for when you make the move.

Let’s drill down further into the financial and practical resolutions to any possible obstacle that might come on the way when starting your own business:

Build an emergency fund

Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that you need an emergency fund for the rainy days. System crashes, prolonged power outages, security breaches, and lawsuits can throw you off balance. Having a separate fund for emergencies helps you to avoid credit and late fee issues.

Save enough money to cover startup costs

Startup costs such as licensing, advertising, purchasing equipment, consultation fees, and others soon mount up.  Having three to six months’ worth of living and business expenses in the bank gives you an ideal start. Savings can provide you have the feeling of security when quitting your office job.

If you’re able to pay your employees, rent, utilities, equipment rental, insurance, etc. for three to six months, you’re in a good position to take the leap.

Recruit a mentor

Consider anyone in your professional network who’s made the transition that you are going thru while starting your own business. Aim to connect and learn from them, based on their experience.  A chat over a coffee, or even agreeing to a regular mentoring meet up could help you to navigate the financial and practical choppy waters of leaving behind the security of secure employment. And, once you do make the leap to full-time entrepreneurship, such a mentor could provide valuable knowledge and support in your early days of sailing solo.

Reduce your hours as a stepping stone towards your goals

So far, we’ve focused on quitting full-time paid employment in order to concentrate on full-time entrepreneurship.  There is another option. Consider reducing paid employment hours in order to concentrate more on your own business.  In other words, become a part-time employee in order to move towards your goal of being a full-time entrepreneur.  Such a decision softens the blow of leaving the guaranteed income of paid employment behind.  It may be the canny choice that allows you to transition towards your eventual goal of working solely for yourself but there are certain entrepreneurial skills you’ll need to master along the way.

Keep an eye on your network

Once you become a full-time entrepreneur, your network and contacts become a valuable asset to you. People you’ve previously worked with can provide relevant information and reviews that add value to you and your own unique brand.  You’ll have contacts who can help with introductions and deal with other business owners.  As part of your transition plan, ensure you do not neglect the valuable resource of your network and contacts. You may eventually leave your paid employment, but a positive business relationship can cross the leap of the transition to full-time entrepreneurship.  Foster and develop your network now so you have a strong contacts list when you really do need it.


Finally, it’s also important to be realistic about the challenges ahead of you when starting your own business. A dream by itself is unlikely to lead to a successful business.  A healthy dose of realism and pragmatism provides the extra ingredient that can transform a pipe dream into a viable reality. Keep your expectations rational, be aware of the pros and cons when being an employer.

So, if you want to claw back some time, energy, and sanity, it may be time to stop juggling managing your own business whilst also working full time. Sure, there are risks involved, but there’s also plenty to be gained.  Keep your eyes fixed on the benefits of full-time entrepreneurship whilst also prudently taking the steps to plan on your next move.


Kat Buckley

Kat Buckley

Kat Buckley runs a house cleaning company in Oklahoma City called HappyCleans. She is interested in startups, healthy living, and travel.
Kat Buckley

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