5 Financial Preparations You Should Make Before You Quit Your Day Job
Whether your goal is to build your own business or to go it alone as a freelancer, financial security can easily become a sticking point. If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you’ve likely begun your new enterprise while you’re still working a full-time job. This means long hours as you try to juggle it all, leading you to long for a day when you can focus solely on your own venture.
If you’re eagerly awaiting the day when you can put in notice at your job, there are some things you can do to start preparing now. The more prepared you are, the more secure you’ll feel when you finally decide to take the leap.
Set Up a Reliable Client Base
The best security you can offer yourself is to have a reliable income base in place before you drop your day job. It’s less difficult to leave that comfort zone if you have a level of comfort where you’re going. Work hard to cultivate long-term relationships with a steady group of clients who pay on time each month and make those customers your top priority. Always turn work in when promised and, if you need to raise your fees, choose to grandfather those clients in for as long as possible, since their loyalty will offer a strong foundation as you work hard to grow.
If you sell a commodity to a customer base, you can create that predictability through tools like recurring billing and subscriptions. You can also set up strong relationships with retailers, where you’re seen as a valuable supplier. This reliable income will make a big difference in your income, giving you the money you need to manufacture additional products and branch out to new markets.
While you’re working full-time and growing your business on nights and weekends, you’ll likely be in a position where you’re earning extra money each month. Set every dollar you can aside into an account that will grow interest, whether that account is a standard account or short-term CD. You’ll have this money to cover expenses if your business is ever forced to endure a few lean months.
Before you leave your job, check with the bank on the possibility of landing a small business loan or line of credit that you can use for your business. The Small Business Administration may be able to help you identify financing opportunities specific to your needs and situation. They may be able to show you loan opportunities you would have otherwise missed.
Line Up Insurance
One of the biggest challenges facing the self-employed is insurance. If your current employer handles your medical insurance, you’ll be faced with replacing that, which isn’t easy for entrepreneurs and freelancers. There are several options, including:
- Spouse employer-provided insurance—If you’re married, your spouse’s employer may provide insurance at the discounted rates usually only afforded to groups. Before automatically choosing this option, however, you should compare the cost to private insurance, since some employer-provided insurance can be costly.
- Obamacare—While Obamacare has its detractors, the service is designed to meet the needs of the uninsured. If employer-provided healthcare insurance isn’t an option, your next step should be to price a healthcare plan for your family through the healthcare marketplace. The process can be completed online and you can save the quote you’re provided to compare against other options.
- Professional or Trade Organizations—Some professional organizations get group rates for their members. If you’re starting a business or freelance venture, chances are there’s an organization that caters to those in your profession for networking purposes. Check with that organization to determine if they have an insurance option that applies to you.
- Private insurance—Usually the most expensive option, private insurance is available from almost every major healthcare insurance provider today. While this option is expensive, it may not be as daunting as you would expect. Price several different options and consider a higher deductible to keep your rates as low as possible.
Medical insurance is only one type of insurance you’ll need. Check into liability insurance, as well as the coverage you’ll need on your car or home if you’ll be using them for business. If you can get all of this in place before you make the transition, you’ll have one less think to worry about.
As a business owner, you’ll eventually need to purchase a few things for your business. You could charge those to your personal credit cards, but this can be tricky. First, you’ll need to make sure you have good personal credit in place to qualify for those credit cards in the first place. If you do, you’ll next need to be able to easily separate your business charges, both for tax purposes and for your own bookkeeping. Even if you proceed this way, you’ll likely eventually have the need to lease office space or set up credit card processing for your business. Having good business credit in place can help.
One of the best ways to build credit for your business is to set up an account for small items such as office supplies. Staples offers lines of credit to small businesses for the purchases they make in their stores. Even charging small items like staplers and reams of paper through this line of credit can help you gradually build a credit score for your business that will help you with other endeavors.
Prepare to Remain in Place
If you have thoughts of buying a home in the near future, consider the risks of leaving a stable job behind. In addition to the commitment of a larger mortgage, you’ll also run into obstacles when you’re trying to get a mortgage. Unless you can prove a steady monthly income or you have a spouse who has been in a full-time job for a while, you’ll encounter difficulty as a freelancer or business owner if you try to borrow money to buy a house.
If you’re sure you’ll be able to make the mortgage payments with your business income, take out a mortgage before you leave your job. You can move, get settled, and get comfortable with the monthly payments before taking such a big step. However, if you can’t swing this option, don’t worry. Most mortgage companies will merely want two years of tax returns and a profit-and-loss statement for your business that demonstrates you’re making enough each month to cover the payment. It may merely mean a few more years in your current home while you wait for your business to grow.
A day job provides a security blanket of sorts. However, if your true dream is to open your own business or launch a full-time career as a freelancer, you can start well before you quit your job. Your advance preparation will merely mean you’ll already have safeties in place when you finally do resign.