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From Employee To Entrepreneur – 5 Ways To Thrive Beyond Your 9-5

Written by: Eleanor Oliver-Edmonds, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Is your side hustle starting to look like a serious business? The allure of being your own boss can be quite appealing for a number of reasons: boosting your income, time freedom or fulfillment from doing something you love. There’s never been a better time to explore entrepreneurship. According to a recent study by Zapier, 1 in 3 Americans has a side hustle and that number is expected to rise. For some, having a side gig alongside a full-time job is enough, while for others a profitable side hustle may be the passport to achieving a bigger dream.

Before you take the big leap to becoming a small business owner, you may want to create a solid foundation so that you can set yourself up for sustainable growth and success. Transitioning from an employee to an entrepreneur has many moving parts; taking the leap without preparation could be disastrous.

Here are five key areas of focus to help you create a smooth transition.

1. Prepare Financially

This essential step will alleviate anxiety and stress as your start-up company ebbs and flows. Prior to leaving your job, set financial, business and personal goals for the following: 30 days, 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years. Once you’ve set a target date for your exit to freedom, the first thing you will want to do is diligently build up an emergency fund account with enough liquid money to cover your living expenses for a minimum of 12 months. Make this amount non-negotiable and only dip into the account in a dire emergency.

Calculate the costs paid by your employer which includes subsidized health insurance, contributions to 401k plans, and perks like reduced gym fees and company-sponsored daycare. Many of those subsidized benefits from your employer will become potential expenses for you and your business as you’ll likely have to pay for them out of pocket once you're an entrepreneur.

Write down all of your expenses and note any potential items you can cut for added savings. The purpose here is twofold: eliminate and avoid anything that could potentially create undue stress during lean times, and create a laser-beam focused strategic overview of your expenses.

If you plan on making any major purchases such as a car or home, do that while you are still with your current company and can benefit from showing consistent income and pay stubs. If you have a health plan through work, you may also want to schedule dental and wellness checkups prior to leaving.

When you have a comfortable safety net in place, you can focus on what matters, building your business.

2. Leverage Your Expertise

Entrepreneurs starting out wear many hats as they try to fill every role of their business. You’ve likely seen the recent memes where the business owner is the ad agency, customer service, videographer, scheduler, etc. Don’t get caught up playing so many roles that it causes you to overlook the opportunities to generate more income by diversifying your product offering. Doing so will help you scale your business faster, leverage multiple streams of income from one concept and build upon your expertise. When you begin to see yourself, your products or services as a brand, you can begin to imagine a world of growth-sustaining possibilities.

Here’s an example, one of my coaching clients turned her love of baking for her family into a side hustle. Her sweet product offering included to-die-for cookies, brownies and signature decadent treats. Her oven was fired up nearly 24-7. What she hadn’t considered was the veritable gold mine right in front of her.

Working together, we explored additional ways for her to create an income, based on her baking expertise. She could offer an online cookie-making workshop through Airbnb virtual experience. Without compromising her secret recipe, she could show groups how to bake perfect chocolate chip cookies. In addition to creating another income stream, she was also building her credibility as a baking expert. This unique virtual format would allow her to create a cookie of the month baking subscription service, baking workshops modified for groups looking for fun team-building activities, and special holiday baking masterclasses for advanced students. Each of these live or virtual events could be offered to clients or guests at a premium price. Instead of baking batches of cookies, she could make one for numerous attendees at one time, and get paid.

Once she realized the various ways she could monetize her expertise to create multiple income streams, her business shifted practically overnight. The result, she was the brand, not the cookies.

Look for similar opportunities to leverage your skills, diversify your services and build upon your expertise. In the digital landscape we now live in, you have access to people around the world; when you build it they will come.

3. Shift Your Mindset

You cannot become successful on sheer willpower alone. It will get you started but it is simply not sustainable. Just as you’ve assessed your expenses, you will want to do a deep dive and assess your inner assets and liabilities. This is where it’s helpful to work with a coach or mentor, someone who can help you identify blindspots and limiting beliefs so you can address potential pitfalls or shortcomings before they happen. If you’re unable to find a coach or mentor, having an accountability partner can be beneficial as well. This is someone you trust who will hold your feet to the fire as you work on your target goals.

Your business will affect multiple areas of your life and if any area is incongruent with your objectives, it will positively or negatively impact the others. One way to make sure you’re in alignment is to craft a detailed vision and identify core values that support your personal and business objectives. For instance, if your goal is to achieve flexibility so you can have more time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, a congruent core value would be delegation so you’re not exhausting yourself by trying to do everything on your own.

4. Create Systems and Processes

There’s nothing quite like being an entrepreneur to expose limiting beliefs, lacking skills and the need for systems and processes. One all-too familiar entrepreneurial hazard is trading 9-5 for 24-7. That’s not how this works.

Identify tasks you can outsource, and create systems to help you run your business efficiently. Establishing habits and best practices early on in your business will help you avoid burnout and exhaustion. Consider hiring a virtual assistant whom you could train to do low-profile administrative tasks (email follow-up, tracking, bookkeeping, etc) so you can focus on the higher-impact aspects of your business.

5. Treat Your Business Like a Business

This last point is crucial. If you want to earn an income from your business then you will have to work your business like a business. Hobbies are for pleasure, businesses are for income. The following applies to setting up a business in the states, check your local city or municipality to find out what’s required to file for a business license. If you are planning to operate as a sole proprietor, LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) or S-Corp you will be required to obtain a federal tax EIN (employer identification number). Once you have your EIN number you can open your business banking account. Other business-related accounts you will want to set up are: life insurance, business liability insurance, and retirement accounts. You can find resources online to help with filing or contact a professional in your area.

Check your local area for organizations that offer training courses for small business owners. Some even offer assistance with grant writing and filing for business credit.

Once you have established your business, you will want to obtain bookkeeping or tax-related software to help you keep track of your income and expenses. One of the best business tips I received was to create a separate account for my taxes, and when I was paid, I immediately put one-third of the money received into this account.

The journey to entrepreneurship is an exciting time. It may feel overwhelming and be fraught with challenges in the beginning, but for those answering the call to bring their passion to life, the reward is truly life-changing.

For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and visit my website!


Eleanor Oliver-Edmonds, Brainz Magazine Executive Contributor

Elle (Eleanor) Oliver-Edmonds is a writer, speaker, and certified virtual coach. She pivoted from her advertising/marketing career as a creative strategist crafting consumer-directed messaging for top household brands and applied her creative problem-solving expertise to coaching individuals.

She’s founder and creator of the S.H.I.F.T. Factor, an online transformational space where Elle empowers women over 40 to reconnect with their dreams, overcome barriers, and strategize a path to success. The five-part inside-out process is based on the guiding principles, tools and resources Elle successfully used to reimagine and redesign her own life after loss of job, marriage, home and business.

She now lives a life where everyday looks like vacation. She relocated from hectic city life in Los Angeles to the Palm Desert area where she lives with her husband, and is affectionately referred to as “Coach Elle in Coachella” by her clients. Elle is the proud mom of two entrepreneurs who inspire her to follow her passion of living with intention and creating a ripple effect.



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