4 Signs It’s The Right Time To Ditch To Your 9 To 5

By Fleur Madden

a woman rest her head on her hands, while leaning against a balcony railing.

If you can’t seem to shift the nagging thought—no, dream—about how good would life be if you were your own boss, working on something you are passionate about every day and dictating hours that suit you, then it might be time to ditch your nine to five.

Not sure if the dream is really achievable?  We’ve rounded up some sure-fire signs from the universe—and some advice from legends who took the risk—that you might be ready to ditch your regular job to pursue your dream biz. 

#1 Your Side Hustle Is Taking Off

This one is a no-brainer. If you’ve started to build up a sustainable revenue-generating business on the side and are finding yourself giving more to it than your day job, it is time to give it all you’ve got. Businesses generally don’t reach their full potential when the founder doesn’t give it 100%, so if you are looking for a sign…this is it! Give yourself a timeline and set realistic goals for the next 12 months to make the move a success and get to work.

“I started freelancing as a side gig back in May 2020, because lockdown gave me the space I needed to do so. My day job commute was two hours per day so suddenly I had a lot of spare time to bring a dream to life. Just before Christmas I’d been considering going part-time because the side gig was going so well, and then my day job announced voluntary redundancies #byeeeeee ”— Freelance Copywriter

#2 You Don’t Have The Flexibility You Really Want And Need

Let’s be real, the demands of family life while building a career are challenging. Especially when COVID-19 has caused our home and work lives to collide, with so many of us juggling online meetings while sharing the kitchen table with partners and roommates. The need for flexibility and even remote work is sky rocketing. The nine to five workday is a thing of the past for modern workplaces and freelancing is on the rise.

Running your own gig means that you can decide when, where and how long you work, and who you work for, giving you the flexibility to fit work within your lifestyle. Plus, it enables you to prioritise what’s most important to you, whether that’s fitting in more exercise, or catching up with your friends more often.

“I had been working on my "side-hustle" for a little while, whilst at the same time putting a LOT of effort into my then part-time role with an NFP. After putting in around 100 hours of unpaid overtime into that job in one year I walked into the office 15 minutes late one morning. Instead of asking "is everything ok?" my boss reprimanded me in front of all my co-workers for being late. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I resigned about 48 hours later. Best thing I ever did.” —Marketing Consultant

#3 You Want More Financial Freedom (And To Get Paid What You’re Worth)

So, COVID-19 may have thrown a spanner in the works when you were hoping to *finally* get that pay rise. Salary reviews may have been put on pause and you were just grateful to still have a job, we get it. But if you’ve reached a financial plateau and are not making much progress towards your savings goals it might be time to check yo’self. Honey, it’s a new year and you deserve to be paid what you’re worth.

When you become your own boss, you can choose what you want to be paid, so be competitive. Research shows that female freelancers and consultants charge up to 38% less than their male counterparts…yep even when we are in the driving seat, we undersell ourselves! Here are some tips to make sure you set a competitive rate from the start. A lot of consultants and sole traders say they make more money working for themselves than they ever did in their nine to five.

#4 Your Nine To Five Doesn’t Align With Your Values

A leader whose values are not in line with yours, no ability to grow and develop, a workplace that doesn’t champion diversity or sustainability, a company culture that doesn’t support equality, unmotivated teams…sound familiar?

It has never been more important to do work that matters, to feel like you have a clear path to leveling up and to find a workplace that aligns with your values, whether they are focused on sustainability, equal pay or a culture that supports diversity and inclusion. While it might be surprising to find workplaces that still don’t have diversity and equality firmly on their radar, they’re out there! If your workplace isn’t supporting what is important to you, it’s time to back yourself and make a move for your future-self.

“My a-ha moment came when I found myself in a job reporting to a manager I just couldn’t respect. I had been freelancing for a few years but with no real plans to take it full-time, but I didn’t want a work life where I basically needed permission to use the bathroom, so I took the plunge and quit. I gave myself three months to test it out, and that was 13 years ago now.” —Freelance Graphic Designer

Okay so that all said, if you are ready to take the leap, also make sure you put time into your business plan and goals for your first six to 12 months. Estimate what external costs you might need to get up and running and have some savings to cover your expenses. Join some business or networking groups to continue to build your business community and ask someone you admire in business to be your mentor.    

And when it does come time to give notice, do it gracefully. You never know what opportunities may present themselves down the track. You could even end up consulting for the business, but this time it’ll be on your terms.

If you’re ready to write your own rules and become your own boss, check out Freelancing Gems’ ‘how to start a small business’ checklist.

Image Credit: Joshua Rawson Harris

Fleur Madden is the CEO of Australia’s first freelance job site Freelancing Gems, dedicated to female freelancers, consultants, sole-traders and side hustlers. She is a champion of women in business and passionate about supporting women to have successful businesses and getting paid what they are worth.  

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