Foundr Magazine publishes in-depth interviews with the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. Our articles highlight key takeaways from each month’s issue. We talked with Amy Porterfield about how to leave your nine-to-five job. To read more, subscribe to the magazine.
In 2023, Amy Porterfield published her first book, Two Weeks Notice: Find the Courage to Quit Your Job, Make More Money, Work Where You Want, and Change the World, to help people like her who want to “unboss” themselves.
The NY Times best-seller lays out a runway for leaving your full-time job and creating a flourishing business.
“I wrote the book that I wish I had in my first two years of building my business,” Porterfield says. “[It includes] all the basics you need to get [your business] into place that I skipped or struggled with.”
In our intimate conversation, Porterfield details some of those struggles and shares meaningful lessons for anyone learning to lead their own business and life.
Porterfield’s marketing business, Amy Porterfield Inc., has earned more than $82 million in revenue. She’s served more than 50,000 students through her online courses, and her Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast is downloaded more than one million times each month.
Porterfield cut her marketing chops while working for six years for life and business coach Tony Robbins. As Robbins’ director of content development, Porterfield led campaigns and events relating to Robbins’ professional development curriculum. (You can read our interview with Tony Robbins in Issue 50 of Foundr Magazine.)
The downside of working for Robbins is that the material will eventually get to you.
In January 2009, Porterfield sat in on a meeting with Robbins and a boardroom full of business owners (Porterfield emphasizes that they were all men). She was seated in the corner, notepad in her lap, ready to take notes for the team.
“One by one, each of these guys went around to talk about their businesses. And all I heard was ‘freedom,’” Porterfield says. “For the first time in my life, I realized I’ve always had a boss. I’ve always been told what to do, starting with my very strict father all the way up to my very last boss, Tony Robbins.”
For the first time in my life, I realized I’ve always had a boss. I’ve always been told what to do.
At that moment, Porterfield knew she needed to become her own boss.
But the decision didn’t come naturally. Porterfield grew up in a family where a paycheck meant everything. Her dad was a firefighter, and her mom was a hairstylist. She says they were “blue-collar to the bone.”
Leaving a stable job paralyzed her with fear.
“I walked out of that meeting and said, ‘I’ve got to figure this out,’” Porterfield says. “And it took about six months for me to think, ‘Could I really do this? Could I really be my own boss? Could I start something from scratch?’”
I walked out of that meeting and said, ‘I’ve got to figure this out.’
“It was six months from that point, and I left,” Porterfield says. “I took my little white car packed with a bunch of boxes and drove off into the sunset out of the San Diego (Tony Robbins) headquarters and started my own business.”
Another “Robbinsism” that stuck with her was a phrase: “Storm the shore and burn the boats.” The saying originates from the lore of 16th-century Spanish conquistadors and means if you want something badly, don’t give yourself a retreat strategy.
“Burning the boats meant I wasn’t going to take consulting work at Tony Robbins. I wasn’t going to just dabble in my own business for a while but keep my 9-to-5 job for the next few years. I was literally going all in—sink or swim. I was going to make it work,” Porterfield says. “And when you burn the boats, you don’t have that opportunity to turn back. So the only thing you can do is look forward and figure it out.”
6 Steps to Leave Your 9 to 5 Job and Start a Business
- Step 1: Determine a compelling why for starting a business.
- Step 2: Choose an exit date from your current job.
- Step 3: Find an aspirational mentor who did the same thing.
- Step 4: Learn as much as you can from your current job and your mentor.
- Step 5: Put yourself out there and meet potential customers.
- Step 6: Leave your job and never look back.