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Five Things I Did Before I Quit My Day Job

10th February 2017
5 Things I Did Before I Quit My Day Job |

Follow your dreams

One of the great things about the web is it enables us to put our ideas out into the wider world. This has provided an opportunity for many to build businesses online. It also means people can work from almost anywhere.

My Candy Pop journey began in June 2008 when I began sharing photographs of my life and home on Flickr. I never thought that nine years on I would be working freelance. My motivation wasn’t to build a business but to simply share my thoughts and creativity.

One question I’m often asked is at what point did I decide to leave my day job. It’s certainly not a decision I took lightly and it involved many conversions with family and friends. At the time, I was working as an Alumni Relations Manager at Oxford University and after an impromptu meeting with a coach, I knew it was time to go.

Following my decision, I implemented a few things to ease the transition. I wanted to make sure everything was in place before I left my job. I therefore stayed for a further six months to plan and save. This was probably far longer than necessary but I enjoyed the role and I wasn’t in a rush to leave. So today I’m sharing the five things I did before I quit my day job.

5 Things I Did Before I Quit My Day Job |

1. Research and planning

I didn’t have many free weekends once I’d decided to leave. My Saturdays and Sundays were spent researching, brainstorming and organising. I read every snippet of information I could find. I also signed up to marketing agencies and went through old emails to create a spreadsheet of useful contacts.

I’ll admit I haven’t done any work through the agencies or looked at the spreadsheet! But at the time it was reassuring to know I wasn’t leaving a stone unturned. I spent time considering ways I could make passive income. And I created a business plan, strategy, brand guidelines and even a job description. Old habits die hard!

In addition to this, I started listening to creative business podcasts. During my seven years of employment at Oxford University, I attended meetings and conferences to keep up to speed with best practice. I knew I didn’t want to spend too much time reading information online. So I thought podcasts would help me to stay connected while learning about current trends. They are my lifeline! (More: 5 inspiring podcasts for creatives.)

2. Found a creative coach and an accountant

My accountant could answer all my tax queries and advise me on general business practice. For example, how to run business accounts and what insurance I should invest in. When I left my first meeting I had a lengthy to-do list but once everything was in place I could relax.

I also booked some sessions with a creative coach to help with the transition. I knew there would be a lot to learn and discuss and I find chewing over ideas helps me to move forward. And last month I met with a business coach I worked with while at Oxford University – never underestimate the value of the contacts you make in your previous jobs!

3. Built a network

Before leaving my job, I built a network of people I could discuss my work with. They included existing friends who are self-employed and people I had previously met at press days, blog events, Blogtacular, Independent Oxford networking evenings, local meet ups and Instameets. There are always people willing to help and share experiences and I now have a small community of local freelancers and online groups to connect with. This year I’m aiming to build my local network so I have a few more people to meet up with during the week. (More: the inspiration and joy of creative friendships.)

4. Created an office space

My desk was previously in the living room and I was certain I wouldn’t want to see it on my days off! After trying out several possibilities I created an office space in my spare room. Somewhere bright, inspiring and clutter-free. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and I only had to buy a new desk and drawers to create the space. Having an office enables me to shut the door on my work at the end of the day. Which is very good for the soul! (More: how to create a productive workspace.)

5. Saved my pennies

And finally, after deciding to leave I saved every penny. No treats, holidays or lunches and dinners out. I was worried about no longer receiving a regular income and a few freelance friends advised me to save roughly three months of outgoings. Having savings gives me flexibility if invoice payments are delayed plus a little extra peace of mind.

Find what works for you

Every business is different and I’m sure there are things I could have considered or done differently. Looking back, I didn’t need to do as much research. I maybe should have used the time to create blog content. Working on commissions means it’s sometimes tricky to keep up with the blog.

If you’re planning to make the transition I wish you the very best of luck. It’s exciting and rewarding and I haven’t looked back. I decided early on that if things didn’t work out or the freelance life wasn’t for me, I’d simply find another job. After all, it’s better to have tried than to live a life of what-ifs. (More: 10 valuable life lessons from working freelance.)

5 Things I Did Before I Quit My Day Job |

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  • Reply fashionforlunch 10th February 2017 at 9:08 am

    Loved his post natasha! So interesting and informative

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 9:44 am

      Thanks Kirsty. Have a great day!

  • Reply Rachael 10th February 2017 at 10:45 am

    Loved this post, so interesting. I just upped and left my day job lol it just got too much. I maybe should have done some of these things!

    Rachael xx.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Rachael. How exciting, I hope it goes well!

  • Reply L Benning 10th February 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Love this post! Inspiring! 🙂

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Daisy jones 10th February 2017 at 12:28 pm

    Excellent post with some very wise words, inspired! X

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks Ashley. I hope you have a lovely day!

  • Reply Kimberly Duran 10th February 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Perfect post and such good advice! Like you, I found it best to transition slowly and it took me nearly a year from making the decision to finally taking the plunge. I took my time building up my freelance work on the side (I had no social life for a while as I was working quite a lot just before I quit working full time but sacrifices had to be made!) and once I had enough savings in place, I knew it was time! Two years on and wouldn’t trade it for the world 😉 xxx

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks so much. I’m all for a slow transition and you’re right about the lack of social life. I’m pleased to hear you’re enjoying freelance life! 🙂

  • Reply susieherself 10th February 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Its great to get an insight into the logistics of making a move such as this!

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks Sue. It only took 18 months to get around to writing this post!

  • Reply pinchofdelight 10th February 2017 at 2:32 pm

    your photos are stunning! Totally in love with how clean and crisp they are! xx

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 2:45 pm

      Thanks so much. That’s very kind of you to say!

  • Reply Steph (Nourish ME) (@stephhartley4) 10th February 2017 at 5:11 pm

    This was such a helpful read! I’m one of those people who decides they want to do something, and then does it the next day. It rarely pans out. I’ve not seen anyone speaking about how they transitioned from working for someone to working for themselves. This was fab


    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks so much, Steph. I’m glad you found the post useful. Have a great weekend!

  • Reply kate 10th February 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Fab tips Natasha – especially insightful given I’ve just gone freelance myself! xx

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 10th February 2017 at 5:32 pm

      How exciting – congratulations!

  • Reply catesthille 10th February 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Really great tips, I’ve often pondered going freelance, I guess it’s just about making that big leap of faith!

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 11th February 2017 at 9:24 am

      Thanks Cate. Have a great weekend!

  • Reply jessthetics 11th February 2017 at 12:02 am

    I’m not planning on quitting my day job but I find the process fascinating! I think working for yourself can seem very glamorous but people don’t realise hoew much grind actually goes into being self employed. And congratulations on the new job! xx


    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 11th February 2017 at 9:26 am

      Thank you so much. You’re right, it’s a lot of work, but the freedom is worth the effort!

  • Reply Eleanor Maw 11th February 2017 at 3:47 am

    Thanks for this post. I want to become a freelancer and this is definitely food for thought. Currently know mat leave from.a good but uninspiring job so planning and doing a little tricky but I do what I can! I’m glad all the planning paid off for you. Xx

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 11th February 2017 at 9:27 am

      Thanks Eleanor. I’m pleased you found the post useful. Good luck with your journey!

  • Reply Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely 11th February 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I resigned after having my second child and am slowly but surely finding my way back in to the world of work, but working for myself rather than a huge company. So different circumstances but these tips are still hugely useful. A coach, a network and an inspiring office space are so important. I wouldn’t function half so well without them.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 12th February 2017 at 11:16 am

      Thanks Rachel for stopping by. That sounds great, good luck with your journey.

  • Reply athina 11th February 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Definitely an inspiring post, great advice for anyone in this position – sharing this now with appropriate friends!

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 12th February 2017 at 11:17 am

      Thank you so much!

  • Reply Victoria Eales 11th February 2017 at 11:02 pm

    It’s funny you say about having had a desk in the lounge, I’ve got the same at the moment which was a temporary measure when I was made redundant and whilst I enjoying sitting at it I find it almost counter productive because I won’t do certain things unless I’m sitting there!! Just one of my strange quirks!!

    Victoria x

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 12th February 2017 at 11:18 am

      It’s interesting isn’t it? I know people who can’t work at home, only in coffee shops!

  • Reply Antonia Ludden #tidylife 12th February 2017 at 6:52 pm

    You took a really sensible approach! Good advice for anyone starting out as a freelancer x

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 13th February 2017 at 8:19 am

      Thank you! I hope you have a lovely day.

  • Reply Stacey Sheppard 12th February 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Such good advice. I wanted to go fully freelance for years. However, every time I’ve tried I find I can’t quite give up the financial security of a day job. I also discovered I hate working from home without colleagues. I need other people to feel inspired. So glad it worked out for you. Love the idea of a coach. Maybe that’s what I needed.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 13th February 2017 at 8:22 am

      Thanks Stacey. I wasn’t sure how I’d find working alone but it’s been ok so far. I try to see as many people as I can during the week!

  • Reply kathryn 13th February 2017 at 11:13 am

    I’m still so proud of you for the making the leap. I wish I was nearly half so organised as you are. I think I need to work on the local networking thing more this year, especially now all my kids are at school full time! x

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 14th February 2017 at 9:52 am

      Thanks Kat – and I am of you! Building a local network sounds like a great idea. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day.

  • Reply Lucy 13th February 2017 at 7:58 pm

    I love that you are so organised. This post is excellent inspiration and I’m going to take some from it! X

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 14th February 2017 at 9:53 am

      Thanks Lucy. I’m pleased you found the post useful. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Reply Annie 15th February 2017 at 11:50 am

    Very interesting to see how it all works. I agree that keeping your desk away from your living room was a great idea, I wish I had space to do that!

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 15th February 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Thanks Annie for stopping by. Have a great day!

  • Reply Sofia 18th February 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Very sage advice! It can be so scary to just up and leave, but preparation is key!

    xo, Sofia

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 28th February 2017 at 4:24 pm

      Thank you, Sofia!

  • Reply Lila D. 21st March 2017 at 6:00 am

    Sounds like you did it the smart way! I know people that have quit before they were ready, and ended going back to the corporate world. The sad thing is if they had done a little more planning, they wouldn’t have had to go back to a 9-5.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 21st March 2017 at 9:55 am

      Thank you, Lila. That’s such a shame.

  • Reply Asmi Bajaj 22nd September 2017 at 4:31 pm

    I am a digital marketer, I work for a group of hotel. I also want to open my own company. But very scared of losing regular income.
    But hoping soon I will take a courageous step like you. Thank You For sharing your experience

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 24th September 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Thank you and you’re welcome! I wish you all the very best of luck with your new business.

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