Today was my last day at my day job. From now on, I’m a full-time freelancer, working from home, working on projects with clients all over the world.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this is one of the happiest days of my life. Other than meeting my wife and getting married, other than becoming a father, this is the most excited I’ve ever been.
This has been a long and winding journey, to say the least. I’ve been thinking about making this move for quite some time. I had to wait for our new baby to be born (which happened in May), then I went on FMLA leave for 10 weeks to take a “test drive” and see how much I could make by working from home full time.
The response was highly encouraging – I hit my income targets for three paydays in a row, while still being available during the day to fix lunch and change diapers and take my son to the park.
And while I was on leave, freelancing full-time, I got some crazy news from my day job. On July 9, it was announced that my company was shutting down and being restructured into the larger corporation that owns it. This was shocking news. My company had been around for over 100 years – generations of people had worked there and earned a good living and generous benefits. And now they were announcing over 3,000 job cuts nationwide, with 1,000 job losses in Des Moines.
I went back to work on July 16 to see what the situation was. Back before the announcement, I originally had planned to resign, but I wanted to take a few days to see how likely it was that my job would be cut, and if so, what kind of severance package I might expect. After crunching some numbers and weighing some options, I ultimately decided to just put in my resignation letter and get on with starting my business full-time – I think my (former) job would have been pretty safe, and even if my job had been cut, it might have taken at least 6 months. So I decided to just give my 2 weeks’ notice and get started on my future, rather than wait around for a severance package that might never come.
It felt really good to make this decision and know that it was done. If I would have lingered on hoping for a severance package, it would have been a weird way to work – being in the situation where everyone else’s worst-case scenario was my best-case scenario. I sent a farewell e-mail to my former colleagues today saying, “I hope you all will be working for this company for as long as you want to.” I really do sympathize with everyone who is trapped in all this uncertainty – and I’m optimistic that most of them will probably be able to find other jobs within the company.
Even though I gave 2 weeks’ notice, my managers very graciously allowed me to leave early (today) while still getting paid through August 3. So now I can start my new freelance career with a “mini-severance package.” I’m going to hit the ground running on Monday morning – I’ve already got a full slate of projects and client calls lined up for next week, with some other projects in the pipeline. As I experienced during my six-week “test run” in June and July, opportunities often materialize while you’re doing the work. Clients send repeat projects. People invite you to bid on their jobs in Elance. Success has a momentum all its own! As long as I keep working and trying and communicating with people, good things will happen.
I know that this business idea can work. I’m sure there will be ups and downs along the way – I’ve already experienced some of those aspects of the freelance life – but ultimately I have faith that if I keep working hard, if I keep building strong relationships, and if I keep delivering great results for my clients, I will be able to earn as much money as I want.
Quitting my day job was the easy part – now I need to go do the work of building a business! But I know it can be done.