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Should You Quit Your Day Job? How to Make Real Money Working From Home

We’ve all had it: that vivid fantasy of walking away from our cubicle and saying goodbye to our 9 to 5.

For many would-be self-employed workers and small business owners, 2017 is the year this dream may finally be closer than ever to reality.

According to Fast Company, more workers than ever have a side hustle that provides them with extra cash. And many of those entrepreneurs are making plans to leave their day jobs behind.

Here are five things you need to know before you jump ship – and five areas where you can turn your hustle into a full-time job.

Make the Move

You may want to quit your job tomorrow, but if you don’t have a plan to help you transition from a full-time employee to becoming your own boss, you’ll be in hot water faster than you can say “unemployed.”

Here are five steps every responsible entrepreneur has well in hand before they leave their day job:

1. Savings & Start-Up Costs

Heading out on your own is expensive. That’s why you need plenty of money socked away to help you cover expenses while those irregular paychecks make their way to your bank account.

“You should have a rainy day fund or savings built up to cover you and the business for a certain period of time,” writes Lisa Girard at Entrepreneur.

Most financial experts advise you to budget for at least 12 months of personal and business expenses – plus an additional emergency fund in case you run into unexpected trouble.

You’ll need to budget for rent or mortgage payments, health insurance payments, equipment or office rental, and cost of goods sold – and that’s just for starters.

2. Clients and/or Products

Hopefully you’ve already tested the waters with your product or service before handing in that letter of resignation.

“Finding clients before you quit your day job will help you build the cash flow you need to make the leap,” explains Elaine Pofeldt at Time.

“Often, the best place to start is your current company,” she adds.

Make sure you only approach your current company about consulting work after you work out your transition plan with your boss – and be sure to honor any non-compete paperwork you signed when you were hired, too.

3. Market Research

How much do you really know about the industry you want to join? Make sure you’ve done your homework, so you understand where you fit into the picture – and who your competition is.

According to entrepreneur coach Ryan Robinson, 42% of companies neglected to identify a need for their product before launching – and failed because of it.

Don’t waste time and money on a product no one will buy. Not only will you be out a job, you’ll be out your start-up capital, too.

4. A Plan

How will you get from $0 to that first sale? What will you do to accommodate bigger orders? Who’s in charge of providing which service in your company?

“Every step, from where you will operate to how you'll fund and market your idea, needs to find a home outside of your head,” advises Marla Tabaka at Inc. “Declutter your mind by creating a document that outlines your steps and how you will execute them.”

Without a business plan in place to assign responsibility, envision growth, and help you get through slow periods, you’ll run out of steam – fast.

5. Your Team

Most entrepreneurs already have a team of fellow risk-takers, innovators, and funders in place before they make the leap.

But even if you’re a solopreneur, you’ll need the support of your friends, family, and, quite possibly, an assistant to help you stay sane and healthy, too.

Use your most practical-minded friends and family as a sounding board before you take the leap, suggests Jon Acuff, author of Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job.

“Talking to family and close friends will help you realize if you’re going after something that you really want to do, or just escaping your current situation,” Acuff told Entrepreneur.

Bring on the skepticism!

Shake It Up

Chances are, you already have a solid plan in place, and a strong vision of what you want your work life to look like once you leave your company.

But if you’re dreaming of more flexibility and aren’t sure which industry deserves your considerable skill and focus, look no further.

Here are five industries that will free you from your cubicle, give you autonomy, and allow you to start making money from home:

1. Social Butterfly

Have a good eye, tons of followers, and a knack for crunching numbers? Then you might be ready to take the unofficial title of social media maverick to the next level.

“The truth is, while most businesses and organizations realize they would benefit from having an online community, many don’t know how to grow one or lack the time to do it,” explains social media strategist Alexis Grant at Mashable.

Without the know-how or strategy, companies will need someone like you to take the reins. Leverage the experience you already have into your new full-time job.

2. What’s Up, Teach?

If you have a skill, people will pay you to teach them – online. That’s right: online education is one of the hottest passive income sources out there.

“Because we globally value education, you can charge hundreds for an online course,” writes Ashley Hockney at the Teachable blog.

Since other forms of educational content – like ebooks, podcasts, and blogs – aren’t associated with the same level of value, “you’d be hard-pressed to find someone paying over $30 for a book or blog subscription,” she adds.

But courses are different – they help clients develop new skills and allow you to show off your content and coaching know-how, too.

Check out online platforms like Teachable, Udemy, or Skillshare to launch your own value-packed course.

3. Digital Dynamo

Can you manipulate Photoshop faster than you can say “Adobe Cloud”? Have a background in software development and an app idea burning a hole in your pocket?

Then you might be the perfect candidate for the life of an independent contractor – or a creative solopreneur.

"I love doing graphic design work on the side,” designer Sharon Tseung told Fast Company about her side hustle. “After discovering that Etsy allows you to list digital products, I created editable Photoshop templates, such as media kits, greeting cards, and resumes, and published them on the platform."

With some powerhouse marketing behind a passive income stream like Tseung’s, you could easily turn design work into your day job.

4. Merch Maven

If you’re handy with arts and crafts or have a killer T-shirt idea, there are tons of online platforms dedicated to selling merchandise created by other people. Think Etsy, RedBubble, and even Amazon.

Just be prepared to fail, says Teespring designer Benny Hsu.

“Twenty-one failures. That’s how many tries it took before I earned a profit,” writes Hsu at The Hustle. “After that I still failed.”

But because Hsu was a) obsessed with merch design and b) committed to finding the right design for the right audience, he went on to make more than $100,000 in six months.

5. Niche Your Podcast

Digital media has made it easier than ever to write, record, edit, and distribute your own podcast – and plenty of would-be media moguls are cashing in.

Fair warning: it takes time to build an audience and develop sponsorship packages that will be attractive to other companies. And even then, you may only make enough money with sponsorships to cover the costs of creating regular content.

That means your number one asset as a podcaster isn’t always your audience – but your networks, says Yann Ilunga, organizer of the Podcast Success Summit.

"After interviewing several top podcasters I can say that networking is the number-one reason why many entrepreneurs, marketers, authors and coaches decide to start a podcast," Ilunga told Entrepreneur.

Partner up with the people in your industry you want to work with, suggests Ilunga. Not only will this make your podcast content more interesting, but it’ll help drive the right business opportunities to your door – or website.

Whether you’ll break into growing markets like web or graphic design, or try your luck with new passive income models, it’s easier than ever to turn your side hustle into your full-time gig.

So stop daydreaming about quitting your job and do it already! Just make sure you’ve followed the steps in our plan, so you know where you’re headed next.

Have you made the jump from day job to entrepreneur? Tell us how your transition went in the comments below:

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