Why I quit my day job to grow my side business

April 3, 2014


If you told my 22-year-old self that I would be a small business owner by the time I was 27, I would have laughed. I started blogging in my early twenties and always saw it as a hobby—never something that could become a legitimate profession. But after three years of blogging ‘for fun,’ something crazy happened. My blogging side business started out-earning my full-time job. I was working 12 hours a day and beginning to lose sleep—my hobby had stopped being fun. But I couldn’t stop.

By day, I was working at one of the world’s biggest media companies, designing custom analytics frameworks and managing a seven-figure marketing spend. It was, undoubtedly, the ‘perfect job.’ After work, I would immediately start writing—sometimes going until I would fall asleep. I genuinely love what I do, so it feels natural to work this hard. My freelance work was a feedback loop into my full-time role, and I was growing in both aspects in my life. It was a win-win.

But in November 2013, something unexpected happened. My business boomed. All of my clients wanted more of me, and top companies started knocking on my door to hire me as a consultant. I could have said no. But instead, I made the scariest decision of my life.

I said goodbye to a job that I loved and an employer that treated me incredibly well, so I could run my own content business.  As much as my heart was telling me not to become a solopreneur, my head screamed, “Ritika, you have no choice.” Here’s why:

1. My moment of opportunity is now

When I started blogging in 2010, I was making $8 per post. Today, some clients pay me upwards of $800 a post. I like to say that over the years, I’ve become a smarter businessperson and authority in my field. But honestly, what I really am is a product of luck.

Shortly after I started blogging, a trend called ‘content marketing’ started to take off. Thanks to key industry players like HubSpot and Contently, c-level executives started to realize that companies could use content to build profitable lead pipelines. The value of content is higher because it’s connected to ROI. As a result, the value of content has increased.

As I grew as a blogger, I made sure to align myself with growing companies where demand was strongest. I built amazing relationships that evolved into even more relationships. Seemingly out of nowhere, I started working with some of the top media and marketing companies in the world. Yes, I worked hard—12 hours a day and every weekend for two years—but the reality is that I was standing on the shoulders of giants. I reached for the stars, fumbled sometimes, and somehow ended up in a high-growth market that swallowed me whole.

Once my hobby overtook my job, I knew that the best way to fully capitalize on all the opportunity that stood before me was to go out on my own so I could devote all my energy—not just some of it—into growing a content marketing business. If I didn’t fully commit right then I knew opportunities would quickly pass my by. I also knew that I might never be in such a position again. I could count on working hard, but luck might not be on my side the way it had been. So it was now or never.

2.  I’m terrified of the job market

I’ve watched family members experience long periods of unemployment—and these experiences have terrified me. With six-figures of student debt, I cannot afford to lose 100% of my income at once, which is what would happen if I was working full-time at a job and fully dependent on it for my salary. I have been saving up since I was 14 years old, but I would much rather invest these funds in my future, than blow through them during a prolonged job hunt after a layoff.

By running my own business, I have multiple revenue streams and don’t need to worry that everything could crash and burn at once. If a client drops me, I still have all my other clients. And it’s easier to replace a client than find a full-time job.

Having multiple revenue streams, moreover, makes me feel more connected to my clients. I am not dependent on any one for work, so I never feel pressure to upsell. I am genuinely, 100% passionate about what I do and helping my clients succeed.

3. I wanted to run faster

I like having a lot of responsibility. I thrive on opportunities to lead and influence. I was lucky enough to work for an employer to support these goals—promoting me three times over a four-year span—but the pace didn’t feel fast enough. Don’t get me wrong, I was presented with a world of opportunity at a very young age—for that, I am grateful. But there were specific goals that I wanted to accomplish including managing a large team, managing contributors with experience levels that surpassed mine, leading sales initiatives, and building an operation that could effectively support scale.

At the time that I quit my job, I was freelance writing, and now I am taking that challenge a step further by figuring out how to scale my company. I am working with fellow freelance writers who are among the smartest in our industry—they embrace my mistakes, support me, and teach me how to lead. Sometimes, I feel like I’m growing at a rate that outpaces what I can handle—but I know that even if I fail, I will become a stronger version of me.

Final thoughts: I needed to confront my weaknesses

It’s funny. The day that I onboarded my first big client was one of the most stressful days of my life. I wasn’t prepared, and I was completely mortified. I should have been celebrating, but instead, I was chasing paperwork to make sure that I wasn’t letting details fall through the cracks. While I am a strong relationship-builder, I am terrible at maintaining records, logistics, and record-keeping. Slowly, but steadily, I am working on overcoming this weakness. And I have the smartest minds in the industry—outstanding clients and fellow freelancers —to support me and guide me along the way.

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about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.