You’ve been working crazy hard to build this business you LOVE, but don’t know when to go full-time. It’s scary.
I started my business when I was in college. I also worked a few hours at my school, but quit working there a year after starting my business. However with a juggling being a full-time college student, it was a LOT to keep up with. But through it all I had the goal of going right into full-time photography after finishing my degree.
For others, it might look like balancing another job and wondering when to quit! I want to share a few tips to knowing if you’re ready to go full-time!
Before going full-time:
Know how much you need to make.
The first few points are about money! While passion is definitely needed, I’m going to assume that’s a huge reason you’re trying to go full-time! But making sure you can afford it is so important! For some, this looks like matching your current salary. Or maybe you’re in a position where taking a pay decrease is worth working for yourself as you continue building and growing your business! Maybe your side business has been necessary for supplemental income, and you feel it could make even more if you spend more time on it! Whatever place you’re in, know an actual number you NEED to make each year and write it down! Only when you know you’ll meet this number will it be time to go full-time!
Figure out how much you are ACTUALLY making from what you offer.
If you’re a photographer, charging $3,000 for a wedding and booking 10 weddings doesn’t mean you’re making $30,000! There are costs to each wedding you book, taxes, and on top of that fixed and variable costs! If you aren’t sure how much your business is actually making and need help with figuring out your expenses and taxes as well, I have a Business Finance Tracker in my shop over here!
Then, calculate how much you need to book or sell.
Now that you know how much you’re making from your services, use that to determine how much you need to book or sell! Again, my Business Finance Tracker will help you compute all of this! After expenses and taxes, see where you’re at with booking or selling to reach your target income amount.
Estimate how much you’ll book as the year goes on! If you need 20 weddings for the year, chances are you might not have all 20 booked at the start of the year! If you’re 2 months into the year and have 15 booked, you can most likely assume you’ll book 5 more for that year! However, if you’ve only booked 2 out of the 20 needed, it might not be the best time to go full-time if you’ll need the income from 20 weddings. Figure out how many you know you could book as the year goes on!
Plan to pay yourself monthly from your business.
While this is expected with corporate jobs, don’t make the mistake of not paying yourself a set amount in your small business. There are a few ways to make this happen! First, hiring a bookkeeper is so helpful in making sure everything is kept track of. Let an expert manage your books, taxes, and paying yourself!
Second, know how much you need to pay yourself each month. While having an annual goal is necessary, break it down to see what needs to come in every month!
For those with a specific service like wedding photography, one month might be bringing in $10,000 if multiple weddings are coming up and final payments are due, while off season months might be slim. Paying yourself a set amount will keep you from spending too much in the higher booked months, and still have money to pay yourself in the slower months.
One way to help keep things spread out is by breaking up client payments. I have a retainer required to book, then after this, 50% of the remaining payment is due 6 months out, and the other 50% due 1 month out. This not only helps out my client by breaking up the payment, but allows my business to have money coming in during slower months! I use HoneyBook to keep track of all of this, and have a code for you to get 50% off of HoneyBook (click HERE!)!
Planning to pay yourself monthly will help you figure out if your billing structure is working for your needs, if you’re saving enough during busy times for the slower times, and will make it clearer if you’re ready to go full-time.
Know how often you are saying “no” to profitable opportunities.
I remember talking to a planner who was building her business while still working a corporate job. She had maxed out her PTO and vacation days to work with couples for their wedding days and build her wedding-planning business. When there comes a point you’re turning people away because it’s absolutely impossible to serve them with your current job, that might make the timing clearer.
Make sure those opportunities are actually PROFITABLE. Would being able to say “yes” to those clients wanting to book push you to your income goal? Would this have lead to big growth in your business? Know that spending more time on your business in the right places will lead to more growth! It’s a balance since you might not have the time now to spend on it, but you’ve seen big results in the amount of time you have spent! If you’re right under your target for bookings, maybe you know the extra time you could have spent being full-time would have easily jumped you past it!
Only you can determine if this is the right time you can make this business full-time! But if you have checked these things off, you’re off to a great head start to having more security jumping into business full-time! If you’re still on the path there, hang in there. It’s a LOT of work, but worth it to work for yourself and have your dream job!
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