Grinding out the 9-to-5 while pursuing your side hustle is a romantic entrepreneur journey at first, but it starts to take a toll as days, months, and years pass by. Holding on to both commitments is a great risk-free strategy in the early days, but it’s not sustainable.
Eventually, you’ll have to make a choice:
- Quit your job and go all-in on your side hustle
- Ditch the side hustle and go back to focusing on your 9-to-5
Sooner or later, every would-be founder reaches this juncture. Now, what will you do?
You take the blue pill: You leave this page before it’s too late and go back to browsing the internet and grinding out your jobs while each begins to stagnate.
You take the red pill: You stay in Wonderland, and we show you when the time is right to quit your job and make your entrepreneurial dream come true.
If the idea of quitting your day job and giving your passion project your full-time focus gets you excited, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ll help you identify the tell-tale signs you should quit your job, and we’ll also help you recognize reasons not to quit your job.
After this, there’s no turning back. Ready to take the red pill?
Why You Need to Quit Your Job and Pursue Your Passion
Is quitting your day job really necessary? Can’t you just keep plodding along and maintaining both?
Sure, you can. However, it’s not easy.
Real-life isn’t some Hannah Montana dream reality. You only have so much budget, energy, and time in the day, and when you split it between two demanding obligations, both suffer.
Here’s why you need to quit your job:
- Invest More Time: Businesses take time and energy to grow. The more you can invest into your venture, the faster it’ll take off.
- Control Your Schedule: No more getting up at 5 am or staying up until midnight to advance your side hustle during the off hours. Dedicate all the working hours to your business and win back your work-life balance.
- Make More Money: More time in usually means more money out. There’s a hard cap on your full-time salary—less so on your side hustle income.
- Bring Your Idea into the Light: Most aspiring entrepreneurs start their side hustles in the dark, afraid of what their managers might think or say. Once you go all-in on your venture, you can launch and talk about it publicly with confidence.
- Follow Your Passion: It’s what you enjoy doing, right? Or at least, we hope it is. Don’t stay stuck doing something you hate doing. Pursue your passion and bring your dream to life.
Don’t Skip: 35 of the Best Side Hustle Ideas
When to Quit Your Job
Now, let’s be clear. While outstanding entrepreneurs have spontaneously quit their jobs and cashed in on their entrepreneurial vision, that’s not necessarily what we’re advocating here.
Yes, that path works out for some, but it’s inherently riskier. Instead, we’re proposing that you do keep your 9-to-5 while you grow your side hustle until the time is right to go all-in on your part-time job. This isn’t quite as sexy as dropping out of college, ditching your job from the get-go, or burning all the bridges that tether you to corporate life—but it actually improves your odds of success.
A robust study of entrepreneurs found that those who kept their day jobs (at least at first) were 33% less likely to fail in their new venture. Adam Grant, a psychology professor at Wharton, put it this way:
“Quitting your full-time job to start a company is like proposing marriage on the first date. The most durable businesses are typically started by people who play it safe…don’t go in all guns blazing. Start it as a hobby and see if it takes off.”
How will you know when “it takes off”? Great question! That’s what you’ll find in the next section.
6 Signs You Should Quit Your Job
You don’t necessarily need to check every single one of these boxes. Any sign alone could be reason enough for quitting your job and going all-in on your side hustle. However, if you check all the boxes, you have more justification for dropping the 9-to-5.
Here are the 6 signs you should quit your job and take your side hustle full-time.
1. You’re Making a Healthy Income
Some say this should be 2/3 of your full-time salary, and others say you should be making at least what you make at your 9-to-5. Forget all that.
You might be making far more than you need right now with your full-time job. Your blossoming venture doesn’t have to meet that magic line to be worth pursuing. You might only need half of what you’re making now to live a healthy, balanced life.
Decide how much your business needs to make for you to live the life you want to live. Are you willing to forgo certain TV subscriptions or Friday nights out to lower your minimum income bar? There’s not a right answer—just make sure you’re being honest with yourself about your earnings expectations.
Some individuals might be comfortable quitting their 9-to-5 once their side hustle is netting them $25K per year, while others may want to wait until they can take home $100K annually. This usually depends on a variety of factors:
- Are you single?
- Are you under 25?
- Do you have kids?
- Do you have a mortgage?
These aspects all change (or should change) how much risk you can take.
Take some time and decide what a “healthy income” means to you. Making that much with your side hustle is a sign you’re ready to quit your full-time job. If you’re struggling to come up with a number (or even if you’re not), consider reaching out to a financial advisor—they can help you look at your required income.
2. You’ve Built Up a Cash Cushion
Without enough money in your bank account, your business might not have enough time or capital to take off. Give your business plenty of runway.
If you haven’t already, start building an emergency fund using the income from your full-time job. The more money you put aside, the longer you’ll have to give your side hustle everything you have.
Some ideas and businesses take longer to launch. They have greater startup costs and lengthier timelines. That doesn’t mean they’re bad ideas—but they do need adequate time and financing to come to fruition.
The worst thing that could happen is you quit your job, build your business, but have to go back to a mediocre job because you ran out of money. Do your best to avoid that situation.
The longer you keep your 9-to-5, the more money you’ll be able to put away. However, this growing safety net can become an inescapable trap for would-be entrepreneurs.
“Is $50K in savings enough to quit my job? What about $100K? It’d be safer if I just grew it to $150K, just to be safe.”
We can’t choose the number for you—that’ll depend on your startup’s needs and your lifestyle choices. However, we recommend saving at least enough to keep you afloat for your first 6 months.
Crunch the numbers, and choose a target amount. You don’t need a massive savings fund, but you do need enough to take the pressure off. If you’re constantly checking your bank account, your mind won’t be in the right place, which often leads to poor decision-making.
Once you reach your savings goal, you can feel confident about quitting your job to pursue your side hustle full-time.
3. You’ve Tested and Proven a Business Model
Don’t quit your day job until you’ve proven an idea. The time to figure out how you’re going to make money isn’t when you’re staring at the bills come the end of the month.
Ideally, you want to have found, tested, and proven a business model that just needs more time and money to fuel the engine. For example, an aspiring freelancer can validate their talent and a market need for their writing by working with a few paying clients for a while. Now that they have a proven business model, they can safely quit their day job to find more clients (and make more money).
That’s a basic example—other ideas and models might take longer to validate. Some ideas might look great from the get-go but flounder in the long run. Do your research to ensure you can sustain your business.
Do you have a large enough market? Can competitors replicate your product or offer? Will you be able to raise prices over time? Will you need to hire help, or can you run things independently?
Answers to these questions can confirm if your business model is reliable and ready to scale.
4. You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Side Hustle
Sometimes, side hustles are just a nice way to bring in some extra cash. Not every side hustle needs to be converted into a full-time business. For example, just because you like being an Uber driver on the weekends doesn’t mean you should quit your day job and do it Monday through Friday.
However, some side hustles aren’t meant to be on the side—they’re meant to be at the forefront of your attention. If you’re passionate about a venture and can’t stop thinking about it, there’s a good chance there’s something more there that shouldn’t be constrained to the sidelines.
Be honest with yourself and gauge your enthusiasm for your venture. Is this a passing infatuation, or can you see yourself absolutely loving this 12 months from now? Dig deep to discover what it is about your side hustle that makes it so much better than staying at your full-time job:
- Do you want the freedom that comes with being your own boss? While that’s good motivation for starting your own business, that doesn’t necessarily validate quitting your full-time job (yet).
- Are you excited about the income potential? Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes finding it easier. However, cash won’t always fuel the passion fire for your business—make sure there’s something more.
- Do you care more about this type of work? Your full-time corporate job might be in an industry and field that doesn’t engage you, while your startup aligns with your interests. Doing work you care about won’t only improve your career, it’ll enhance your entire life.
5. You Have a Plan
Going full-time with your venture might sound fun and exciting, but it ultimately needs to make money and sustain your life. Make a plan, establish budgets, and set deadlines before you make the leap.
It’s not quite as thrilling as unexpectedly quitting your job tomorrow, but it sets you up for sustainable success. You might not get quite as many “ooh”s and “ah”s when you tell the story at conferences and family gatherings in the future, but you’re more likely to succeed.
Decide on a date for when you’ll go all-in on your side hustle, and then plan how you’ll spend your newfound free time. It can be painfully disheartening (and scary) to quit your job and think, “OK, now what?”
Instead, you want to think, “So much to do, and still not enough time.” Plan how you’ll spend your hours. Establish a schedule and do your best to stick to it.
Go ahead and start setting to-do list items in a planner or project management application. What needs to happen on your first day? What about the first week or month? When your company asks for their computer back, do you have one installed and ready to replace it?
These are the kinds of questions you should answer before quitting your day job.
6. You’re Ready and Willing
Just because you can go all-in on your side hustle doesn’t mean you’re ready. Proving a business model, building a cash cushion, and bringing in consistent income are great financial signs you can take your business full-time, but that doesn’t mean you’re mentally or emotionally prepared.
Wait until you’re ready.
You might be in a promising relationship right now, or you could be finishing up your last semester at school. You may have just gone through a problematic life-changing situation, or maybe you want to move across the country.
Regardless of your circumstances, now isn’t always the best time to quit your job. Sometimes, it’s best to wait until the moment is right.
Look at your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Are those aspects of your life in a good place? Would plunging from a reliable full-time job into the thrills and risks of the startup world be good or bad for your health?
For some, breaking free of corporate monotony might be the antidote to their life problems. For others, it can cause back-breaking amounts of pressure.
However, realize that you’ll never feel completely ready to make the leap. That’s just part of being an entrepreneur—jumping into the unknown. No one is ever ready to graduate, get married, have kids, buy a house, move, or quit their job to build their own business. Yet, we eventually make the jump.
Be real with yourself and decide if you’re ready. You don’t need to rush into anything—thanks to your full-time job, you have time.
Keep Learning: How to Start a Startup
When to Quit Your Job FAQs
How can I leave my job gracefully without burning bridges?
Leaving a job gracefully can only happen if you've been a decent employee along the way. The next step is about relationships. Have an open and honest conversation with your manager and co-workers about what you've appreciated about your job and why you are quitting. Thankfully, if you're leaving to start your own business, explaining why you're moving on will be easy.
How can I handle the emotional impact of quitting my job?
There will be a period when the adrenaline of quitting and starting your own business will wear off. That's when you'll need emotional support through a therapist, business coach, co-founder, or all three. The life of entrepreneurship is intertwined personally and professionally. You can't blame a boss or company for failures. This time it's on you. But that doesn't mean you have to go it alone.
What are the common mistakes that people make when leaving a stable job to start a business?
The most common mistake people make when quitting their job to start a business is not preparing before submitting their two-week notice. Desperation to leave a job shouldn't be your motivation for creating your own business. Instead, you should save financially for, at minimum, a 6-12 month runway to not have a salary. But even more importantly, you need a vetted business idea, plan, and product market fit before going it alone.
You Might Need Some Help
Going full-time with your side hustle is both exhilarating and downright terrifying. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. We’ll be by your side every step of the way.
We’ve created an entire catalog of free training courses and more to help aspiring entrepreneurs (like yourself) start and grow successful businesses. These resources will teach you:
- How to grow a substantial Instagram following
- Steps for starting a profitable online store
- Copywriting secrets for writing authentic high-converting copy
- How to run money-making Facebook Ads
- How to find the right ecommerce products
And that’s just the beginning. Check out our free training courses to learn actionable steps for everything you need to know to grow your startup.
These courses are taught by real-deal founders who have used this advice to develop and launch and scale multi-million-dollar businesses. You’ll learn from entrepreneurs (not gurus) like Daymond John, Eric Bandholz, Gretta Van Riel, and Foundr’s very own Nathan Chan.
These courses make starting a business less of a leap of faith and more of a jumpstart. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to quit your job to pursue your side hustle, give a few of these courses a watch. They just might provide the push you need to make the change you want.