How I Used My Day Job to Fund My Freedom Business

How I Used My Day Job to Fund My Freedom Business

Most people see their day jobs as prisons to escape from; a ball and chain around your ankle you dream to one day break free from.

If you hate your day job, it’s probably far from anything you would consider an asset or a gift. But what if it could be a tool to help you create your freedom business? What if seeing your job as something to escape from was actually keeping you trapped?

It’s easy to see your job as a means to an end. It’s just something to keep you afloat while you work on your real dream. Just a grind you deal with so you can use the rest of your time doing what you really want to do.

I think this is a short-sighted approach. Your job doesn’t have to be just a cage you want to break free from. When you view it in that way, I think it actually keeps you stuck.

When I was working at my day job, I would often commiserate and complain about how much I loathed it and dreamed of the day when I could finally say goodbye to it for good. Even though I was doing work that I kind of enjoyed, there were many things that frustrated me immensely.

Just to name a few…

  • I didn’t like being told what to do (I think all entrepreneurs have some amount of control issues).
  • I didn’t like being constrained to a schedule not determined by me.
  • I didn’t particularly enjoy working with some of the people at my job. (Okay, some of them I couldn’t stand.)

But guess what? Complaining about those things only made me more attached to what I didn’t want. The more I brooded about my predicament, the harder it was for me create what I really wanted: working for myself and being in control of how I spent my time.

The more I resisted my current situation, the harder it was for me to move away from it. Rather than pushing against it, I needed to be like water crashing against a rock, completely submitting and therefore penetrating it. By not resisting the rock, the water can transform it over time into sand.

I eventually realized that I needed to stop resisting and work with what was supposedly holding me back. I had to turn my adversary into an ally.

How I turned my greatest nemesis into my greatest ally

The first step — like most things — for me started with changing my mindset. Rather than seeing my job as evil and despising it every waking minute, I started to try viewing it in a more positive light.

After all, when I thought about it, it provided we with a lot of nice things. It helped give me a stable income while I worked toward building my own business. It allowed me to hone valuable skills that I would eventually use when publishing my first ebook — like learning how to use InDesign. It also helped me to be humble. I had to accept that while this wasn’t my dream job, it wasn’t that bad; there are a lot of other people that have it worse.

I had to remember, too, that while there was a huge gap between where I wanted to go and where I was now, the people I admired worked extremely hard to get there. It’s easy to be jealous when you see people skyrocket to success and fame over night. But rarely is it that simple or that glamorous. What you don’t see is the years of work that led up to the delicious fruits of their hard labor.

My day job also taught me how to be patient. When you’re working towards creating your own freedom, rarely do you see the yields of your efforts instantaneously. Building a business is more like farming than hunting. You till your beds, you plant your crops, and cultivate them for weeks or months before you ever reap the rewards.

Building a business while working for someone else taught me a lot about having patience and faith that this was all going to pay off eventually.

Starting to make the transition

Once I started seeing my job as a gift, I began to look for ways that it could help me achieve my ultimate goal of leaving it. I began to see it as a nest preparing me for flight and I looked for all the ways it could help me start training for the day I would finally spread my wings.

One of the greatest benefits of my job was how relaxed they were about “face time” and how much time you spent at your desk. Their main concern was that you got your work done and that it was done well. Because of that, I found ways to optimize and streamline my work to be able to finish it in about 60% of the time it was supposed to take.

A lot of the work I did was recurring and predictable which presented a lot of opportunities for optimization. Prior to my being there, there were little or no processes in place for most tasks, and the ones that were there were inefficient. By creating really clear steps for each task and set of tasks within various projects, I was able to cut out a lot of the fat from my work day.

I also found ways to automate certain parts of my work. One example was a part of my job that required printing of certificates after they were awarded to an employee. Normally these were all input by hand, but I found a way to create a database of all the employees, and through a quick search and select, had the program insert all the data into the certificate and print it automatically.

Little things like that might not seem like much, but over the course of weeks or months they start to add up.

Of course I was fueled by an urgent motivation. Any time I could save or optimize could be applied to the business I was working to build. And I wanted this, badly.

With any “free time” I had I would work on a blog post, network, or do something to improve my website. Sometimes that was at lunch, other days I would finish my day job work early and cram in as much work as I could on my legacy work before leaving for the day. Because my employer was concerned with performance and not churning, they were absolutely okay with me working on personal projects as long as my core work didn’t falter.

Each day working on my freedom business added up slowly and contributed to my ultimate goal of working for myself. Step by step, I got closer and closer to the summit.

Final preparations for the leap

While reframing my mindset and optimizing my work helped, I knew it could only bring me so far. If I really wanted to make this transformation happen, I had to get out of the nest and start stretching my wings.

In order to do that, I had to do two things:

  1. I needed to build a safety net of savings my wife and I could fall back on in case things went south after I quit my job.
  2. I needed to create more time for the business in order to really gain some serious momentum.

Because my wife and I had always lived within our means and were pretty frugal, our expenses were fairly low. We didn’t have a car payment or any debt at the time, and were able to live on about $2,000-$2,500 a month. We felt pretty good about having three months of expenses in savings before I took the leap, so we set a goal of $7,500 for our quitting fund.

Strangely, the more our savings grew, the more I found myself thankful for my job. It was literally funding my freedom. Without it, I couldn’t achieve my dreams.

As our savings grew, I began formulating a plan to modify my work schedule. Most people don’t think that their work is very flexible and that there’s no way they could work from home two days a week, or move from a 40 hour a week to a 20 or 30 hour a week schedule. I’ve asked a lot of these people if they’ve ever considered asking their employer to work from home or change their schedule and the answer is usually “No.”

I’m always surprised to hear this. I think we make way too many assumptions about how flexible our day jobs really are.

So, here’s an idea: Create a proposal talking about what exactly you want out of your work and how you want to customize it. That might mean working four instead of five days a week, or working from home more often. Whatever it is, craft a pitch to your boss and talk about all the reasons why this is going to benefit them.

That’s what I did. I talked to my boss about how they were going to save money with me only working four days a week and how I was going to be even more focused and effective when I was there.

And guess what? They were totally fine with it. I was nervous and thought it wouldn’t work, but it did.

Working only four days a week at my day job allowed me the time and focus I needed to really build momentum with my dream job the remaining three days of the week. It gave me the time I needed to launch my first product and create a job replacement income from my business.

You can use your day job as a springboard, too

If you’ve been hating your job and feel trapped by it, I get it. I really do. It’s not easy.

It’s not fun feeling like someone else is renting out your mind for 40-60 hours a week. It’s not easy when you can’t stand the people you didn’t choose to work with.

But, in the meantime, why not accept and even appreciate what you have now? It may not be where you ultimately want to be, but why not use it as a vehicle for helping you get there, rather than a ball and chain that’s keeping you stuck?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you ever felt trapped by your day job? What did you do to change how you felt about it?

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152 Comments on "How I Used My Day Job to Fund My Freedom Business"

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Dan
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Very timely post Jonathan – I’m trying to build up a wedding photography business but I’m currently a web developer. I’m struggling to move on due to a combination of fear of failure and resentment of my current situation, but after reading this I’ll be working hard on my gratitude :) Many thanks.

Patrick
Guest
I have felt trapped in many jobs before, but my current job seems to follow the springboard pattern you speak about. They are a small family run, and very relaxed company. No restrictions on internet, flexible during quiet periods. I even think they would be open to working remotely as the industry goes through quiet periods during the summer and after the new year. As I said before, I’m most productive in the mornings. I get to work a little early and manage to think up and sketch up a lot of ideas before the day begins. As most people… Read more »
Filipp
Guest
Nice read! Would’ve been even more effective if I’d read it a few years back when I had a day job, surprisingly it was the only job I ever had before starting my own business. I had a good ride for 9 years and enjoyed every day of it. But eventually I burned out, lost interest and was low on enthusiasm (mostly due to the jacka**es I had to deal with everyday). Spent the last year doing some soul-searching, trying to find a new direction to apply my knowledge and experience, find a place where I can create value and… Read more »
Tristan
Guest
I was tentatively creating a goal of leaving my job in 6months but I don’t know if I can save enough to live on for three months in that time. I work in restaurant making tips, so I can’t relate the office job scenario anymore and reducing my hours. I could reduce my hours/days at work, choosing to spend more time on my freedom (business), but if I do that I slow down any income I make that could set up that future freedom. I have days where I loathe serving people, but the hours and atmosphere are far better… Read more »
pim
Guest

The teacher comes when the student is ready. Thank you.

Greets,
Pim

Seon
Guest
This is EXACTLY how I’m feeling at the moment with my current job…I hate it. Mainly because i feel like it’s such a waste of time, and life. but yea i totally c hw this mindset is not helping one bit (except for giving me more urgency in effecting change!). i’m currently considering selling (almost) everything & then using the $ from that to live off while i pursue my dream of doing work tht matters to me. The only thing is i don’t own tht many expensive items to begin with..so even if i did sell alot, i’m nt… Read more »
Batya Yaniger
Guest

Your ideas sound awesome and they make a lot of sense to me. There are a couple of things you’re not addressing though, that I’d like to you to address. What do I do, if I can’t save money and can’t take your course because I’m $10,000 in debt, and I can’t use my day job as a platform to build my business because I already quit my day job a year ago (where in any event I was only making about $200 a month)?

Shanda
Guest

My day job is a constant humbling reminder of what I’m meant to do, it makes me more passionate. More committed. Instead of seeing it as a prison I am beginning to see it as the most important catalyst to becoming the person I was born to be. I have committed to getting up two hours earlier every morning before I go to work in order to work on my dream. I have limited myself to 1hr of television and no Facebook in the evenings in order to remain focused.

Sion Cablo
Guest
Why – the emails stopped! The essay rings true for me. I am English and have found a great job in Peru in Tourism. I am learning lots of new things from designing maps with Illustrator, website control using Drupal as well as others. I also write texts for our website (My written English is by far superior to the average Peruvian) and I am designing a reservation system using Filemaker pro. The problem is that I am poor family man with 2 little girls and although I am paid commission for Sales, I struggle financially. I see the amount… Read more »
Lisa
Guest

Brilliant post! I’m in this situation right now, and its helped me to re-focus my efforts in my job and my side business. I think I’ll be able to streamline my job in order to get more hours for my own work.. Thanks again.

Sue Ann
Guest
I quit one of my day jobs a few months ago in a sincere desire to support myself with my other part time job and make money writing and speaking. I had the rent paid up then.. but no plan. Bottom line.. it’s three months later and I am applying for work again. I realized the hard way that I need a solid, black and white, meat and potatoes plan. While I hate to head back into the conventional workforce, and be forced to squeeze my dream into spare moments, I see that it has to be done. This is… Read more »
Susanne
Guest
Even though I’m not too sure yet how to earn my living with what I really like (there’s still some you’ren not good enough-fear), I’m working towards quitting my dayjob. In order to give more importance to my own work, I started to get up 2 hours earlier in the morning and do muy own work before I leave for my job. It’s a completely different feeling to get up in the mornings, and there is more energy than after 8 or 9 hours of office work… Thanks a lot for sharing your ideas of making the time you sell… Read more »
Lee Barton
Guest

I’ve quit my day job three times. I haven’t had savings or a plan–just had IT. Needless to say, it didn’t work out, but it wasn’t all bad. I learned how little I can actually live on and what’s really important to me. However, I’m back to work in a MUCH lower paying job which I actually like. I can stick it out while I save, plan, and get my own projects going. I’ve really profited from your ideas.

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[…] have been easy for me to give a half-hearted attempt at the undertaking. But I chose to see my day job as a springboard for the business I was creating, not something to be compartmentalized and shoved into a […]

RJ Hallsted
Guest

Thanks for this. I really needed the reminder that my day job is the launching pad for my dreams. So now I am going to work on optimizing as much of my work as possible so that I have more time to work on my dream while at my day job.

Karen
Guest
Great post Jonathan. I love your idea of writing a proposal to work 4 days a week. I spent years dreaming about working for myself but was too scared to do it. After taking a year’s sabbatical which turned into an 18 month one I went back to London determined not to work for anyone else but me. Even though I’d spent all my savings gallivanting round the world and was returning back to the UK in the middle of a recession I decided to trust the possibility of getting enough work. I did – in fact I earned more… Read more »
Matt
Guest

Just what I needed to hear. Very rare to find such a good post that discusses this issue. Thank you!

Vesone Dean
Guest
Like most people have mentioned this is a very timely post for me too, my job is VERY flexible and I actually started in the support department but moved to multi-media specialist because of my love of creating videos (they were actually kind of mad that I was sitting on that skill set). So now I get to use my job as a ‘lab’ and test out equipment, setting, and techniques to help me grow MotionPixel Lab which is my site where I teach video to entrepreneurs. It’s been a blessing to get the opportunity to work on video at… Read more »
Margarita
Guest

Great article! Thank you very much!
Optimization really makes miracles! It allows you not only to be more efficient, but also more satisfied, and as a result – happier with what you do at the moment. I was in similar situation – I badly wanted to quit my previous job, was very unhappy there, but in the end managed to quit only when I learnt how to be happy also there. Life gives us the lessons and unless we finish them, the lesson won’t end or might repeat again.

Good luck to everyone and also to myself! ;)

Leela
Guest

Thanks for the post and insights. I’m currently between contracts, balanced between not knowing yet what I want to do, needing and wanting to do something different, and the practical reality that I have to do something in the short term to pay the bills. This has given me a lot to think about.

Jed
Guest

Nice post, I love the way you blog (write). From the concept of the blog, the way you present it (having the backpack and the “camper” kind of theme) to the way you encourage your subscribers to converse/interact with you. I look forward for more informative and interesting posts!

NoahDavid Lein
Guest

What about teachers? The pressures and demands on teachers can be very inflexible. How do we make our jobs a springboard or motivation when they only demand more and more?

Deborah
Guest

I think this post is such an important concept for people who want to be free because as you said, it is a springboard to future freedom. Putting negative energy into the job isn’t propelling you forward.

I have set up a blog, I am beginning to create materials I want to sell.

T. L. West
Guest
My husband and I are struggling financially, so quitting my job until I have alternative income is not a possibility. We do not live extravagantly, but in the past year we have suffered a run of bad luck. I have asked if I could work from home at least one day a week several times, but my boss will not consider it, no matter how much it might benefit the company. He thinks of me as a security blanket, and “needs” me to be in the office. Eight years ago I started making a plan so that I would be… Read more »
SharonAnn Hamilton
Guest

I am already so free I wobble! Dayjob long behind me – I sold my business. Now to carve out steadier income stream while doing what I love. That is the challenge!

Fi@InspirationtoDream
Guest

You wrote this post for me didn’t you – well it feels like it anyway. I shared the link in my post today because you brought about such a total change in my way of viewing things – thank you

Rosa
Guest
I have an issue with this article. While I can see that it is relevant to many, even most people, it assumes that everyone has a traditional “day” job. I am a server. Cutting back hours equates to cutting back money. While I’m at work, there is no time to work on anything but serving tables. I’m sure that there are many other people that have non-traditional jobs where many things that were suggested do not apply. I’m sure that many of them, like me, also want to quit our jobs and pursue a life of passionate work. Are there… Read more »
Jason - KAC
Guest
Congrats on Trailblazer Rosa! Yes, I agree that one of the ‘perks’ of an office job is your ability to optimise, find loopholes in the system, and use ‘slack time’ for your own endeavours. Unfortunately, you won’t get that at a serving job. Serving offers some advantages too though (I too have held jobs like this): it’s portable and possible to get work anywhere in the world; has hours of work that would put otherwise ‘idle’ time to good use (for me, it was my evenings – a time which is not always so productive); and can pay cash in… Read more »
Ryan
Guest
Thank you for the great and motivating article!! “I knew it was possible. Others had done it. I was just as smart as them. So, why couldn’t I?” That is exactly what I have been thinking! While you have to know your limits, no matter how much I try I will never be a professional rugby player, but this lifestyle is realistic and attainable. My job involves sitting at a computer all day anyway. Since your last post I have been able to finish the bulk of my work before noon. The remainder of the day I am devoting to… Read more »
Bonnie
Guest

I wish my jobs could be a way to fund my ‘real’ job, but when your bills and debt are far greater than what you can bring in [and every time it snows, both jobs close and I don’t get paid], resulting in no extra money for yourself, let alone to save, it’s hard.

Just gotta keep trying. And can’t give up. This is more than a want, it’s a need. [Thanks for the motivational posts, by the way.]

Aaron Morton
Guest

Great post, I like how you were not only directed by emotion that may have led you to just quiting and hoping for the best. You put it in concrete terms and figured out how much you needed to save before you actually quit.
Thank you
Aaron Morton

You can't hide the spark!
Guest
Perfect timing! After being self-employed for 12 years I am having to apply for full time office work (I need the regular income so that I can move home after a relationship breakup). I am feeling good about the full time work bit, NOT so good about being in an office 9-5 five days a week. Your post has made me look at this opportunity with fresh eyes – maybe I can work from home 1 or 2 days a week, or work 4 days a week at some point in the future? This makes me feel much better about… Read more »
Tammy
Guest

Hey Jonathon

I gave my 1 year notice at work today, and requested a 4-day week starting in September. Nobody had ever requested this before, so they have some research to do before they can say yes or no. Either way, they are supportive and will do what they can for me. Much less scary than I anticipated :)

Max
Guest

Jonathan,

Amazing post and it hit home for me. The line about renting my mind out for 40 to 60 hours is especially painful, but the truth. This post helped me to realize I need to appreciate what the job brings me now. I have also started to bring some structure around getting a business plan together for my coaching business. I love the fresh perspective. Thanks bro.
Max

Timothy
Guest
Hi everybody, I’m new on this topic freedom business and I love it. Only problem is I’m 19 years old already started a restaurant in Amsterdam together with my dad. Studied 7 years for the gastronomics and becoming a entrepreneur in the restaurant business. I finally have a restaurant now for 7 months already and it’s not what I want… How do I find my passion my business where I’m willin to commit a 100% for. I want to travel alot! So I need a passive income. Please help me on idea’s how to come on the idea what business… Read more »
Jason - KAC
Guest

Hi Tim.

Unfortunately, finding your passion is a journey only you can embark on. Don’t let age be a barrier either. Its awesome you’re thinking of this now, and congrats on your experience with your Dad. That’s pretty special.

Take the time and ask yourself some good questions. It’s an investment well worth the effort. Take a look at the resource below for inspiration.
http://www.kickstartacause.com/free-toolkit.html

Hope it helps ;)

Taiwanda
Guest

Good advice! A very sensible way of looking at the work you do as the springboard for making a business out of your passion.

Lilli
Guest
Thanks for the great post! I definitely have some issues with people controlling me, which shocks and surprises people (like bosses!) because I am usually quiet and seen as “sweet” on first meeting, and not a rebel. Unfortunately as a barista/coffee maker (a trendy, fun job with decent pay for a young person in Australia) there is no leveraging time, but there are ways around that. I can’t wait until the day I tell my boss that I can only work part time, or not at all, when I have a business up and running! Thanks again for all the… Read more »
Anthony switzer
Guest
I liked your post , I can agree with almost everything you wrote however I never saved anything when I did this. I looked at my job like a ball and chain , it brought me to the point I couldn’t take it any longer . I quit with nothing. Funny though I was so worried about expenses after I grew my company in a few short months only loosing my car. I started with a bucket of tools out of my friends truck and within 5 months I was at a 6 figure mark it’s funny what you can… Read more »
Dilpreet Bhatia
Guest

Love your articles !! You have a pretty realistic + Positivity associated with everything you write. I am also in the same boat.. Looking forward to attending your webinar on 17th Sep!! Cheers

jasxteo
Guest
I love this post because it is so practical and useful. Yes there are tons of websites that tells you to quit your day job but bills need to be paid. And you don’t want to live like pauper and wonder when your next meal will be while trying to work on your own business. I agree with the cramming as much work and be as efficient as possible at your day job. Although I do not have the choice of working from home for my current job, I am making full use of the culture that we can leave… Read more »
Scott
Guest
Hello my good people.i have heard stories of spell casting but was Neva a fan of it,when sudden 1 months ago i lost my job and i search and search for a job all to no avail.until i discuss with a friend who told me that there was a spell caster who could help me get my job back.i did not believe my friend.i tried looking for other means but when i saw that the suffering was becoming unbearable i decided to call my friend and asked him to take me to the man.when we got there he told me… Read more »
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[…] http://paidtoexist.com/how-i-used-my-day-job-to-fund-my-freedom-business/ Document date:Tue, 12 Jun 2012 12:00:38 GMT But what if it could be a tool to help you create your freedom business? What if I’ve asked a lot of these people if they’ve ever considered asking their employer to work from home or change their schedule and the answer is usually “No.”. […]

Sam Wilding
Guest
I enjoy my day job, I really do. I’m a mechanical engineer/MBA and my job is to start new businesses for my company. The fun thing about being with a company is I get to experiment with really big, expensive equipment as I try to grow new businesses. I don’t have any intention of quitting anytime soon, but I feel like I should be contributing to this planet in another way. A lot of the comments on this post seemed to come from people who had talents that were readily applicable in other fields. I feel like my talents are… Read more »
Adity
Guest
Hi I hate my day job. Ok let me rephrase. I have been working for 18 years now in one industry. It pays me very well. The company takes care of me and values me. I shd be having no complaints. However i feel stuck. I am unable to quit. I have no debts and my husband has a good job. Only issue i am in a senior role and i cannot think of sitting at home. I wil go mad. I want to start my own business but i have no clue what. I am in sales in a… Read more »
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[…] aware: The following advice will not qualify you as employee of the year. But if you’re planning to quit […]

desertscrooge
Guest
For about 6 months between last year and this year, my job really made me want to kill myself and I’m not just being dramatic. It was a trap I couldn’t seem to get out of so I felt even more suffocated. However, in March, I started focusing my passion more on my dreams instead of a job determined to suck my life energy and soul out of me, and my perspective and outlook changed. This job no longer has the power because I took it back. As you said, I view it now as a springboard for funding my… Read more »
Jeremy
Guest

I’m new to this.

But this has given me ideas, and made me think about how to utilize my time at work much better.
Thanks, for today’s blog.

After reading about working against, it’s nice to read about how I could approach my current situation and work with it.

I’ve had issues with trying to focus my mind, because of my many interests. This has given me a spark to find out what really matters to me, and working with my multiple strengths that I really want to do each day. Flowing through the work working with the job.

Thank you.

Sofia
Guest
AMAZING ARTICLE! Really what I needed to read at this point. I have been working as a freelancer for quite some time, but I guess freelancing was never for me and I started to have some financial issues that led me to look for a full-time job, since I have a family to take care off. I’m starting the full-time job next week and I’m really nervous about it, because I have been working from home for the past 2 years! I’m also starting my online business which is my dream, and I hope that in time it will provide… Read more »
Sean
Guest
I’m really resonating with this post, Jonathan. Once again, I’m so happy I found this website, as I didn’t know others could relate. I am a full-time pizza guy. My friends have more time than me to spend at home playing PS3. At 7 p.m tonight ill surely get a lecture about Pokemon. You’ve inspired me to reflect on being grateful for where I work. In a mall where other entrepreneurs, banking and business experts work, I can learn from their mistakes. It’s the fastest way to learn! While being a pizza guy pays for ONLY survival I’m literally (some… Read more »
Lotus
Guest
Thanks for this post, it was very assuring. I started a small business right out of college for four years before going to grad school and i’m now working with a very large traditional corporation. I was beginning to question whether I am ungrateful to even want to quit my job, so far its only been a year. The thing is i am paid well with no kids, I do have access to tools that can advance my skills…. but I want more. I don’t like the bureaucracy and office politics, I don’t like to be told what i do… Read more »
Keyara
Guest
I feel the exact same way! My day job is not ideal, but I am able to work 4 days a week and spend 3 on my business. My mindset used to be self defeating and just mad about having to work for someone else just to exist in the world. Once my mindset switched to my job being a blessing and a resource for funding my business something amazing happened- I became a better employee. I get to work super early to read entrepreneurial blogs. I listen to entrepreneur podcasts during break and on my commute to and from… Read more »

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