Here are some perspectives on investing financially in your new business, and how long to keep your day job.
Since you ARE your business – at least in the early days of starting one – investing in yourself in terms of trainings, certifications, perhaps education is a really good idea. For instance, when I was becoming a coach, I did a coaching training program, a leadership program, and a Train the Trainer in a particular area of interest to me. These trainings led me indirectly to some of my longest-term and most fun clients. I continue to invest in programs that interest me and will help me expand my business, and have a (long!) list of others I want to take, when I am in a position to do so.
The only caveat here is be careful you don’t just blindly accept someone else’s version of what that training should look like. I wasn’t accepted into the business school I thought I wanted to attend, and was very disappointed at the time. Now, however, I wonder whether their program would have given me the depth and breadth I got by putting together my own training menu tailored to my interests and perspective…
Also, since my business is intentionally international, I’ve created opportunities for myself to travel, even when I “couldn’t afford it”. For instance, in ~2003 a friend who was living in Japan was getting ready to leave the country, and I’d been wanting to see her and Japan. I knew I’d never get another opportunity as good, so despite being on the wrong side of the edge financially, I used an unexpected insurance settlement to buy my ticket, and ended up having two Japanese women ask if they could work with me, meaning two new clients that more than paid for my trip. (because I was “in the neighborhood”, I also stopped to visit a colleague I’d met in South Africa, where I gave a talk to one of his clients, further adding to my international experience).
As for keeping your day job, I started my practice when my fortunes were at one of their lowest ebbs. I was out of work, having recently moved back to the US (after 7+ years in the UK) where most of my business contacts were cold or in a different industry, had had a couple of debilitating illnesses and some yucky family dynamics to clean up, both externally and internally. It was not an easy time, but I needed to earn a living. When I found coaching I ultimately so loved it (despite being pretty skeptical going into it) that I didn’t want to do any of the other filler work I had found along the way. So being hungry (i.e. no day job) meant I had to strengthen my sales and marketing muscle. I used CJ Hayden’s wonderful book, Get Clients Now at that stage, and it was realllly helpful in getting me focused. I also accepted a challenge to charge $300/month (the equivalent of $150/hour when I was still in training!) based on my business experience, and was thrilled when others (as in paying clients) agreed that what I had to offer was worth that. And I learned to “swing out” and claim clients that I could see and feel would benefit from working with me, which can be a really rewarding experience for both parties. This was a technique one of the aforementioned training programs taught me, and it’s been one of the keys to building my business.
So a final piece of advice I would add is, find what you most love to do in your work and with your life, because you will be energized follow that bliss even when it gets hard. Your next miracle is only a phone call, an email, or a new idea away!