How I left my full time job to go full time offline.

36 replies
A few people have asked me how I went from being full time employed to full time self employed...

I'm going to share with you all in the hope that it may help some of you with the leap... and maybe some others decide they want to stay employed.

Here we go...

I did the usual GCSE's and A-levels at school. Half way through my A-levels I decided that I wasn't academic in any way and I just wanted to get stuck into working. I wanted to be a designer, so I booked onto a graphic design course and pretty much gave up on my A-levels. I think I finished with half of one in maths.

Straight from design college, I was snapped up by a small design agency near to me. It was awesome, I got to design all day long every day.

But there came a time a few years later when I suddenly realised that I could be getting my own clients. I worked out in my head that I could make more money and have more freedom... or so it seemed.

Now, to set the scene at this point. I am getting paid pretty well, I am just about to get married and we are looking having kids at some point and moving house. So not a great time to start a business, but at the time I thought ... let's just do it.

Getting ready to jump in.

I wanted to get going right away, but I also realised that I couldn't live on the hope of being paid for my first job.

I also didn't want to wait until I had an abundance of clients because I knew that I would never get started that way.

So I found a mid way point which suited me.

Building a client base whilst being employed.

I'll admit it. This was tricky. When you work hard 9 - 5, you have to be really dedicated to your vision of going solo to put the extra hours in.

I was... and so I did.

I found out that the best way for me to do this was to ask my friends if they had dads that had businesses. One of them did and I met him to see if he needed a website, or brochure ... or anything for that matter.

I'm still not sure to this day if he felt sorry for me or he did need a website, but he commissioned me and I got onto it straight away.

I'll admit I was really excited at this point that someone would pay me as an individual to do some work for them.

This happened a few times over and then I found that these people started recommending me to people they knew that ran businesses.

JUMP !!!!

This took about three months and at that point I knew this would work. It was still a risk, but it's gonna work. My wife was supporting me and I knew I had the guts to make the sales and get the work done.

So I handed my notice in, we parted on great terms and I thanked him a great deal for teaching me all that he did.

Quickly learning to get clients.

Once I got started and set up my bedroom office, my tactic early on was to network. I went to breakfast meetings, night time meetings and anything going on to get my name out.

My offer at that time was really simple "i'll create you a better brand and a better website".

I didn't have any clever marketing skills at the time, just raw determination and a knowledge that "I am good at this"...

I became well known locally over a period of time and also quickly adopted some networking online. This is about 8 years ago, so it was more about business forums. There was no facebook and linkedIn

In a nutshell... Good work gets you more good work. Create a great experience for the client. Over deliver where you can. Pester people for referrals...

...

there's a TON more that I could tell you, but for those that asked me, I hope that is enough for now.
#full #job #left #offline #time
  • Profile picture of the author kiwichamp
    Thanks Chris - that is certainly an inspiration for me to keep pushing forward.

    Also reveals the real secret to success (which is no secret) - there is no easy way. Just jump on and contact some potential clients and don't try to hide behind your computer or cell phone or FB page.

    Let people see you are a real person (not a robot) and they will treat you like a real person who can be trusted to do biz with.

    This is what I picked up from your experience Chris - bottom line:

    Jump (the old fashioned way) - don't look for an easy way, and it WILL happen for you (and me) too.
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    • Profile picture of the author Msaeed
      Chris have you got skype? It would be great to talk to someone about how to get started in offline marketing.
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      • Profile picture of the author peter_jones
        Hi Chris,

        An inspriring post you have put out for us all there, thank you for the inspiration.

        Im guessing you had no customers paying for monthly services when you took the leap?

        Peter
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        • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
          Originally Posted by PeterJones View Post

          Hi Chris,

          An inspriring post you have put out for us all there, thank you for the inspiration.

          Im guessing you had no customers paying for monthly services when you took the leap?

          Peter
          Hey Peter.

          When I started out, I had no monthly paying clients. I used to charge for the odd website change or bit of design work.

          It took me a few years to work out that people paying monthly for services like SEO is a much much much better business model. At the moment, we have about 12 companies paying us monthly.

          It means that we can focus on serving them well rather than running round like crazy people getting new clients... although we are always marketing in one way or another.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Many props Chris... I made the quantum jump myself, and havent looked back in years!
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  • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
    Would love the oppurtunity to pick your mind one day. Great inspirational story! Would love if you could give any feedback on my site in my signature, this is my 2nd attempt at building websites, and I'm hoping I get it right this time!
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by RatRaceWatch View Post

      Would love the oppurtunity to pick your mind one day.
      Feel free to pick it right here and i'll do my best to help.
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      • Profile picture of the author White80
        Thanks for the inspiration Chris.

        I 'made the jump' earlier this year, not quite worked out yet but I am sticking with it, refining my offerings

        I am doing work as a TV extra and a few other bits and bobs to keep ticking over.

        Joe
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  • Profile picture of the author tonyscott
    Hi Chris, I sort of fell out of self employment in financial services after 15 years in that industry, just over 2 years ago. I'd built a few sites for friends and one or two for businesses at low cost and was intending to transition to the offline world over a period of time, however the credit crunch gave me no option but to jump.

    It wasn't easy.

    I was already in debt, my marriage had crumbled under the strain and I was living in my sisters house working at the kitchen table.

    I had plenty of motivation to improve my circumstances and I worked very very hard.

    Blessing in disguise though really. Today I have a higher and more stable income than I previously did and a growing list of clients, the majority of whom are a pleasure to work with.

    Tony
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  • Profile picture of the author jaydens
    Great, so inspiring. I have been thinking of leaving work for full time self-employment, but a little skeptical because I may not succeed. You are right, one good start is to establish clients while still employed and if everything goes well, that's the time to start a new career. Thanks a lot!
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by jaydens View Post

      Great, so inspiring. I have been thinking of leaving work for full time self-employment, but a little skeptical because I may not succeed. You are right, one good start is to establish clients while still employed and if everything goes well, that's the time to start a new career. Thanks a lot!
      When you say you are a little skeptical about success... i'm going to assume you mean skeptical about your willingness to make it happen?

      I don't say that to condemn, but just to say that anyone can do this. There's nothing really special about any of the people on this forum that have jumped into full time self-employment.

      What's stopping you from making it happen?
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    Just saw this post Chris - great inspiration for many others on the forum!...I love to read 'great escape' :-) stories like this.

    For me, after 21+ years self-employed it's hard to even consider working for someone else anymore.
    _____
    Bruce
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  • Profile picture of the author nealr
    thanks for sharing, very inspiring
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  • Profile picture of the author mj2059
    After 20 years of self-employment and contract work, I let myself get conned into being an employee - it was a great gig, and they "don't hire contractors". 18 months later, the project is complete, and I'm too expensive to keep around for maintenance, so I get slotted into a general IT position where they really needed the help. Lasted just over a year, but was ready to shoot myself.

    NEVER AGAIN.

    I'm back to self-employed, starting in a new area, but much better off in everything but day-to-day finances. That will come quickly enough. Had some savings to see me through (learned from experience...)
    Picked up first client from a friends referral, did a small project for another friend for free as a demo and testimonial. Gave some pointers to a cousin about a site - made an immediate difference for him in real $$. Starting to get referrals from those. Doing networking, etc.
    Will be doing some cold-calling next week (but going to outsource it! I can hire someone much better at that than I), but only going to use it to "prime the pipeline".

    Many people I know go from job to job because of how bad they are treated - they jump to a new one because it is better at first. But it usually gets bad again, and in this economy that strategy doesn't work, so they are stuck in a crappy situation, waiting to see their job downsized.outsourced.

    There is plenty of info here on WF for you to get started - I have lots of experience, but I still pick up new ideas here. Pick one and go for it! Don't give up. Don't worry about perfection. Expect to get your @ss handed to you a few times, just pick yourself up and keep going.
    If you are motivated enough to do it "after hours" on top of a regular job, you'll do OK, just like the OP.

    Once you make the jump you'll wonder why you waited so long.
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by mj2059 View Post

      There is plenty of info here on WF for you to get started - I have lots of experience, but I still pick up new ideas here. Pick one and go for it! Don't give up. Don't worry about perfection. Expect to get your @ss handed to you a few times, just pick yourself up and keep going.
      If you are motivated enough to do it "after hours" on top of a regular job, you'll do OK, just like the OP.

      Once you make the jump you'll wonder why you waited so long.

      Awesome advice... It's great that there's quite a few of us that have made the leap. I'm pretty sure none of us would go back.

      I would really encourage some of the newbies to grill us while we are here ready to help a bit.
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  • Profile picture of the author viscoa
    Nice work Chris, you are an amazing example of how hard work and dedication payoff. If you want to make it happen you got to take the plunge!
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  • Profile picture of the author BlackJayBorn
    I am about to do the same....Time to Fly....
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Barboza
    This is thread everyone willing to quit their J.O.B should read. Thanks a lot!
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  • Profile picture of the author tuscan
    Chris,
    Over delivery is the best positive "word of mouth" generator that I know. Great information.
    Tuscan
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    • Profile picture of the author sparro
      Originally Posted by tuscan View Post

      Chris,
      Over delivery is the best positive "word of mouth" generator that I know. Great information.
      Tuscan
      I couldn't agree more. Don't get caught up in selling services that don't really offer value. If you are charging a monthly fee for a service be sure what you are selling really helps your client or you will loose those referrals that are so important to small businesses.
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  • Profile picture of the author AppsFromHome
    I have been on my own for about 6 months now....a contract job was up and I have always messed around with IM and SEO so decided to jump in head first. After a few leads from eBay, I over delivered and was basically asked "How do I become a monthly client?".

    Lead generation is never a problem if you give your potential clients a taste of what you can do....they'll be hooked. Oh, and the small things like a handwritten thank you note really do go a long way as I am sure the more experienced offliners can attest to.

    It's all about the opportunity and what you do with it...I still have a long way to go but the last 6 months have proven more to me than years at a desk job.
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    • Profile picture of the author tdbasha
      Hi Chris,

      I have been reviewing the WF and other places to find some good training for local offline business marketing. I'm still looking but found this thread and thought it may be the place to post this request.

      Do you or any other Warriors have recommendations for some good training/programs for local offline marketing?

      Thanks!
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by SDotSpells View Post

      I have been on my own for about 6 months now....a contract job was up and I have always messed around with IM and SEO so decided to jump in head first. After a few leads from eBay, I over delivered and was basically asked "How do I become a monthly client?".

      Lead generation is never a problem if you give your potential clients a taste of what you can do....they'll be hooked. Oh, and the small things like a handwritten thank you note really do go a long way as I am sure the more experienced offliners can attest to.

      It's all about the opportunity and what you do with it...I still have a long way to go but the last 6 months have proven more to me than years at a desk job.
      Sounds great mate.

      I'm curious though, how did you get clients via ebay?
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  • Profile picture of the author Brendan Vraibel
    I agree. While I usually preach that it's important to take action rather than buying products all the time and studying but it's even more important to get results.

    Do some work for a friend for no charge just for some experience and ask for referrals. The best way to learn is by taking action. You can study "how to drive a car" as much as you'd like but the best way to learn is to get behind the wheel.
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  • Profile picture of the author ebizman
    I'm also curious as to how you got clients via eBay
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  • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
    Originally Posted by applejack View Post

    Thanks for post chris! a motivating story.
    I'm glad it motivates. What I really want though is for people to just take action and make this work for themselves.
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  • Profile picture of the author ConradDeas
    Thanks Chris, great post and great thread. I'm making the jump myself right now!! Thankful to be amongst people of your caliber.
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by ConradDeas View Post

      Thanks Chris, great post and great thread. I'm making the jump myself right now!! Thankful to be amongst people of your caliber.
      Hi Conrad.

      It was last year you wrote this, how are you getting on mate?
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  • Profile picture of the author dtaylor
    I love these kinds of posts. This is what the forum is about.

    No matter how well you have done, sometimes you get down or have self-doubt. That is when these success stories give a huge boost.

    Thanks,
    DTaylor
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  • Profile picture of the author zelgly2
    Thanks you for the lovely, inspirational quote Chris. I have a plan to jump into designing. I know the basic software's of designing like Photoshop, coral draw etc. How to start from home? i would like to know a little bit more about designing, do you recomend any site to learn?
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  • Profile picture of the author eternalwarrior
    Thanks for sharing your story. Networking is indeed the secret weapon.
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  • Profile picture of the author RoryF
    Brilliant story! Two questions:
    1) How many hours do you work now compared to before?
    2) Has your wage increased now from before by a little or a lot?

    Regards
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