Making the Switch from Employee to Entrepreneur: 4 Strategies To Set You Up For Long-Term Success

A Copy Tribesman asks:

“…how to make the switch from day job to copywriting full time? I’m sure it’s done to death.”

It has, but I’m gonna tell you anyway.

Uncle Nabeel gon’ gi’ you the medicine.

This is a common challenge in the gig economy.

Freelance marketers or marketing consultants who want to transition to running their own agency or micro-agency, listen close.

Hell, if you are or plan on doing anything entrepreneurial at all, you need to pay attention.

Because here are 4 strategies to set you up for long-term success.

Step #1: You’re going to have to eat sheeyit for a while

You need to find at least 5 hours a week to work on your business.

That’s less than an hour a day.

Where will you find it?

If you want to eventually transition to working for yourself, it doesn’t matter where.

You’ll do what it takes to make the time.

Spend that time a) finding clients and b) servicing clients.

Don’t spend it faffing about on getting logos and business cards designed and building a s***ty-looking website from scratch using Wix or Squarespace.

^^You don’t even need a website.

Step #2: Unf*** your dysfunctional ideas about money

There are two parts to this.

Part 1: Optimize for YOUR happiness.

It’s cute to say, “I just want to follow my passion and do what I love, I don’t really care about money.”

^^I call bulls***.

Until you have bills to pay and mouths to feed.

I have a wife and kids.

Happiness for me is being able to buy five plane tickets on short notice to go see my parents in Sri-Lanka or Germany.

Or buying my mother a 1st class ticket to Dubai when she tells me she wants to visit.

Or sparing no expense in homeschooling my children.

Or being able to set up my very own home gym for powerlifting and weightlifting.

Even if you are single…

Imagine being able to take a cab whenever you want without caring about the fare.

Imagine going out for a meal with friends and picking up the tab without thinking ‘I hope I have enough money in my account’.

Imagine being able to effortlessly write a check for a charitable donation.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

Having enough money gives you flexibility. It gives you choices.

You can choose to do what makes you happy.

Part 2: Optimize for your CLIENT’S happiness

This is something I learned from Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You to Be Rich and Growth Lab.

Money mindset #1: clients pay you for the value you create.

I’m a copywriter but clients don’t pay me to write words.

They pay me to solve their problems through writing words.

The better you are at solving your client’s problems – you make him happy – the more he will be willing to pay you – he is happy to pay you.

And If you are the only one who can solve his problems – this is where positioning comes in, which we’ll discuss more in the next strategy – price is no object and you can charge whatever you want.

Money mindset #2: the more money you make, the more value you can create.

By investing back into your business.

It could be something as simple as hiring a personal assistant or an accountant so you can spend more time working on your business rather than in your business.

In my case, I could invest in paid subscriptions for conversion optimization technology, or purchase an online marketing course so I can offer link building services as an upsell.

I can now solve more of my client’s problems, making him happier.

It’s a virtuous cycle.

Money mindset #3: money is the best metric to know whether you are doing the right thing.

This is a corollary of #1.

It’s hard getting people to buy. A 5% conversion rate is huge.

The fact you can get people to buy from you is proof you are able to make them happy, for the simple reason that it takes a ton of trust for someone to pull out his wallet and pay.

Working for yourself is not easy.

Don’t put limitations on yourself before you even start by having the wrong mindset about earning money.

You are setting yourself up for failure before getting started.

Step #3: I don’t care what you do, your real job is ‘Salesman’

Imagine you’re a web developer, a graphic designer or an internet marketer.

And you’ve decided you’re going to become a remote freelancer.

What’s the first to-do item that comes to your mind?

“I need to set up a website”?

“I need to get my official pages up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram”?


Do you know how to position your services in a crowded market?

What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?

How will you price your services?

Do you know where to find clients?

Do you know how to send an effective cold pitch?

Do you know how to write a statement of work?

This is something I learned from Mike Cernovich of Cernovich Media.

I’ll quote him verbatim.

“If you are an author, you are not an author. You are a marketer and a salesman.”

He mentions it over and over when talking to his listeners.

If you can’t get people to pay for your services, you are just another starving artist.

Even if you have a passion-project blog (like me,) if no one reads it what you really have is a diary.

You need to be good at your craft, no doubt.

But being able to market yourself and close sales is the single most important skill you need for success.

The majority of my financial and time investment in my copywriting business has been learning these ‘soft’ skills, and I recommend you do the same.

In contrast, you can set up a beautiful, search-engine-optimized website in under an hour and for less than $100.

That’s how easy the back-end ‘tech stuff’ is.

Step #4: Give yourself room to fail

AKA don’t quit your day job.

What I mean is, don’t quit your job until:

  • you have incoming revenue from your side gig equal to your minimum monthly living expenses for three months in a row
  • you have six months of minimum living expenses saved up

This is also something I learned from Ramit Sethi.

What’s the thinking behind this?

Mitigating risk.

Making a gradual transition in this way has a number of benefits.

First, you know your side gig works and you can make more money if you spent more time on it because you have the numbers to back it up.

Second, you have a cushion of savings if things go horribly wrong for you.

Third, and most important, an immense amount of pressure has been taken off you.

The third benefit is key.

You now have the flexibility to focus on the quality of work over quantity.

You don’t have that air of desperation because you need to close that client to pay your bills.

You can work on the projects and for clients you want to, rather than have to.

You can also feel comfortable charging what you are worth, rather than competing on price.

In Summary

  • Carve out a MINIMUM of 5 hours per week where you work on your business
  • Reframe how you think about money: you are creating value in the world and you deserve to be compensated accordingly
  • You MUST get comfortable marketing yourself and asking for the sale if you want your business to grow
  • Burning your boats is overrated: nothing will ruin your ability be your own boss more than NEEDING to close that one client just to pay the bills.

Can you think of any other mindset shifts I missed?

If you’ve made the shift from employee to entrepreneur, did you do anything different?

Leave a comment below and let me know. I read every response.

1 comment… add one
  • Arina Kharlamova Jan 6, 2018 @ 0:36

    Oops, I quit my job before having revenue – but I DID cushion with 6 months of savings. Love the post! 🙂

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