Freedom comes in many forms, but perhaps the best way to be free these days is to become self-employed. It’s definitely easier said than done, but if you can create a solid plan to start your own business, you can leave your 9-5 job much faster than you think. Here’s how to do it:

1. Develop a Business Idea

If you want to quit your 9-5 and become self-employed, it’s important to think carefully about the type of business you want to start. Some businesses require substantial financial investment like opening a restaurant or buying inventory for a brick and mortar store. Others, like starting online businesses, might only require the cost of website hosting.

Keeping your start up costs low is a great way to accelerate the time it will take to create enough of an income to quit your day job. So, whether you want to be a full time consultant or a full time tutor, sit down and calculate the amount of money you need to make to replace your day job income effectively.

2. Learn How to Acquire Clients

Whether you will have clients or customers, it’s important to learn how to acquire them. Some companies have very high customer acquisition costs when it comes to online marketing and advertising, but if you are a one person business, you can acquire clients and customers for free through your hustle!

Some examples might include sending blind pitches to clients to ask if they have work, leaning on your network to find referrals, or working with bloggers and other influencers you know to get the word out about your products and services.

This part of the process might take some trial and error, but once you find out what works, you can rinse and repeat until you have enough clients and/or customers to produce a full time income.

3. Make the Switch

Many people disagree over the best time to make the switch to self-employment. There will come a point where you’ll feel “the pinch.” What I mean by this is that there will come a point where you are working hard at night in the evenings and heading to your day job early in the morning. You’re trying to build a business on the side and at the same time do a good job at your 9-5.

This will be a tough period for you, and sometimes you might have to quit your job before you are actually making enough money with your side business. The reason is that sometimes the extra 40-50 hours a week of time that quitting your job will give you to push you into making the full time income you need to survive.

Ultimately, making the switch from having a 9-5 to being an entrepreneur is a great choice, but it’s a choice that requires a lot of planning, insight, hard work, and guts. If you’re willing to put in the work, however, and create a valuable business that will please your clients and customers, you’ll be well on your way to living the life you’ve always dreamed of.

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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