Out on Their Own: Alisha Byrd

Welcome to Out on Their Own, where brave women share the nitty gritty stories of how they kicked their 9-5 jobs to the curb and began living the One Woman Shop lifestyle. If you want to share your story, email us!

alisha byrd of electric star

Meet Alisha Byrd. She is the owner of the handmade accessory brand Eclectic Star where she creates one of a kind bohemian inspired bracelets and necklaces. She is also a lifestyle blogger over at TheAlishaNicole.com, a platform she uses to inspire, vent and document her journey as a new entrepreneur. On any given day she can be found playing with her pups, feeding her social media obsession or reading a good book.

So, what prompted you to quit your job? Was it one moment or was it simmering for awhile?

Oh it definitely had been simmering for a while! I always felt like I was supposed to work for myself because I’m a little rebellious and having to listen to authority always got up under my skin. I worked in a center and was literally cursed out by customers on a daily basis. One day a customer took it a little too far and I knew I had had enough. I was already spending any extra time I had on Eclectic Star so after that incident I decided to quit and pursue my business full-time.

What (if anything) did you do to prepare for the transition out of your 9-5?

I didn’t do much as far as planning, I sort of decided one day and put in my two weeks notice the next. Thankfully I had been saving money for a vacation so that extra cushion helped out a lot.

Let’s get real: how did you feel the day you quit? Liberated, scared sh*tless, nauseous?

My last day I had butterflies in my stomach the entire 8 hours (and I did little to no work that day) and when I walked out it felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I seriously wanted to cry because I felt so free. It was AMAZING! It wasn’t until a week or so afterwards when it really hit me and I was like “oh crap, I’m really doing this."

Tell us about the days and months following quitting your job- were you overwhelmed with work? Eating Ramen? Networking your butt off?

The first few weeks I can’t lie, I was definitely in the “honey-moon” stage. I’d wake up when I wanted and took breaks whenever I felt one was needed. But I quickly realized that I NEEDED to be doing a lot more and that’s when it became overwhelming. I had to cut back on a lot of my luxuries in order to put more back into my business which included eating out and going out with friends. I have never cooked so much in my life! I also stocked up on business books. Since I’m my only employee I wanted to know the ins and outs of running a successful business.

How do you feel now? Do you wish you transitioned earlier? Do you wish you didn’t go out on your own at all?

I’m finally at a point now where I can think straight and have become very comfortable with my decision. At first I did have my days where I thought about going back into the working world but I honestly couldn’t be happier with my decision. The only thing I would change is I wish I would have prepared a little more as far as setting up my business, figuring out my target audience and branding. I’ve changed my logo three times in the brief time I’ve been in business and that all could have been prevented if I would have planned it out.

Do you have any advice for others considering going out on their own? Words of warning? Caveats?

The best advice I have ever gotten is to “Do whatever makes you happy” and I try to live by that daily. I would also say that it is NOT an easy process and you will work harder than you have ever worked at your 9 to 5, you will be exhausted, confused and you will probably cry a lot more than normal, but trust me it is truly a rewarding experience. Going into business for yourself is really an all or nothing situation. Also never stop learning, there is so much that goes into starting a business and even more to keep it running.

Questions for Alisha? Ask them in the comments!

Out on Their Own: Kelly Gurnett

Welcome to Out on Their Own, where brave women share the nitty gritty stories of how they kicked their 9-5 jobs to the curb and began living the One Woman Shop lifestyle. If you want to share your story, email us!

out on their own kelly gurnett

Meet Kelly Gurnett. She runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and hire her services as a blogger extraordinaire here.

What prompted you to quit your job? Was it one moment or was it simmering for awhile?

It had been simmering for a long time. I never really wanted to enter the 9-to-5 office world after graduation, but I just kind of fell into it due to some health issues in college that left me ill-prepared for the writer/editor/journalist career I always dreamed I'd have. With each year that passed, my frustration and depression over how much I hated my circumstances (and how unlikely it seemed I'd ever get out of them) built until finally, I'd had enough. It was one of those "I've got nothing to lose, so why not try?" moments. I was so incredibly miserable where I was, I was willing to do anything to change things. And to be honest? It's embarrassing, but the one "tipping point" moment, if I had to pinpoint it, was when I was home on a "mental health" day (a.k.a. I hated my job so much I couldn't get out of bed in the morning) and Julie & Julia happened to be on TV. I thought, "Well, blogging worked for her, so what the hell?" And the next day, I started brainstorming ideas for CCIQ. It's kind of silly, the things that can "inspire" you when you're desperate for inspiration, but it worked!

What (if anything) did you do to prepare for the transition? 

Quitting my job to freelance was a careful, deliberate process that took 2.5 years from start to finish. I started blogging and guest blogging to get my name out and to build credibility--I had no writing "portfolio" or experience after college, so blogging allowed me to show the world (and myself!) that I really did have the chops to be a professional writer. When I got my first regular freelance client and had a little side income coming in, I asked for Fridays off at work (unpaid). This gave me a little more room to get other clients and continue to build my brand. Once I had enough of a side hustle to feel comfortable with another leap, I went down to part-time at my day job. Then, once I had enough of a business to believe I could quit and not end up homeless on the street, I made the final leap and quit altogether. I sold my car, paid off some debt, and had a little money saved up to cover the initial transition period, knowing that having the extra time now would let me find new clients to make up any gap in income. I made sure each step of the way that I'd be able to provide for my family and that I wasn't doing anything rash (even though every fiber of my being is to be rash and just jump without looking).

Let's get real: how did you feel the day you quit? Liberated, scared sh*tless, nauseous? 

It felt surreal, to be honest. I'd spent 2.5 years longing for that day, dreaming about it, envisioning it, and when it finally came, it just felt like another day--like the next logical step in my plan. The scared sh*tless feeling didn't come until a few weeks later when I realized I really was all-in, for better or worse.  🙂  Now, I find myself having days where I'll suddenly stop and realize just how awesome it is that I've "made it," but when it actually happened, I think I was in a fog. Some things are too big and too meaningful for you to digest until after the fact.

Tell us about the days and months following quitting your job- were you overwhelmed with work? Eating Ramen? Networking your butt off?

It's been about 3 months now since I quit, and it's taken me this long to start to feel like I'm on somewhat firm footing. Learning how to work with my natural rhythms and create a schedule that gets everything done on time, how to balance my work with my life (still working on that) and how to budget when you don't have that steady paycheck coming in every 2 weeks takes some time and is a constant learning and tweaking process. I thought when I had all the time in the world, I'd have a lot more "work-life balance," but the truth is I've probably hustled my tail off more in these last 3 months than I ever did when I was working the day job and the side hustle simultaneously. It's a big lifestyle change and also scary to know that you're all you've got now in terms of generating income, so it's taken me a while to figure out how I work best, how to keep all the balls in the air, and also to get my biz to the point where I don't feel like I have to work on it 24/7 to keep it going.

How do you feel now? Do you wish you transitioned earlier? Do you wish you didn't go out on your own at all?

There are days when I wish I still had the security of that 2-week paycheck, or the ability to turn off my "work" brain at 5:00, but now that I'm "free," there is no way I could go back to a regular job. Even if it were writing-related, if it were a typical 9-to-5, I still think I'd be miserable. For all its uncertainty and all the work you have to put into it, freelancing is the only life I think I could ever really be happy in. Any job will have stress, but if it's a job you love, it's worth it. (I recently saw a tweet that said "Your worst day doing work you love is better than your best day doing work you hate." So true!) Working for yourself isn't a lifestyle for the faint of heart, but if you're made for it, you'll know, and it will be worth all of it. As for the transition timing, I'm glad I did it the way I did. It was exhausting doing the side hustle thing, but it allowed me to build my biz the way I wanted it to be, taking on only the projects I loved and focusing on polishing my skills at my own pace. If I'd just quit without laying that groundwork first, I would have been stuck taking on any gig that paid, and I would have been just as miserable as I'd been in the office. Patience and a deliberate plan (while they can be frustrating as hell at the time) are definitely worth it in the long-run.

Do you have any advice for others considering going out on their own? Words of warning? Caveats? 

I am all about the side hustle. It gives you a chance to build your biz the way you want it without the panic of "how am I going to pay the bills" from the get-go. It also gives you a chance to try out this new career and decide if it's really right for you, before you make that leap and commit yourself 100%. And if you can pull off a side hustle with a day job, then you've definitely got what it takes to work for yourself. You need a lot of discipline, passion, and determination to run your own biz, and side hustling is a great trial-by-fire way to make sure you're really ready. Also, pay absolutely zero attention to the naysayers, skeptics, and "realists" who will try to tell you (and they will) that you're working too hard, that you've already got a good thing with your day job, that you're taking a big risk, or that it will never work. You've only got this one life, and you deserve to be happy in it.

Questions for Kelly? Ask them in the comments!

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Out on Their Own: Jessica Remitz

Welcome to Out on Their Own, where brave women share the nitty gritty stories of how they kicked their 9-5 jobs to the curb and began living the One Woman Shop lifestyle. If you want to share your story, email us!

out on their own jessica remitz

Meet Jessica Remitz. She's a writer, editor and content producer living in Brooklyn with her boyfriend and pound puppy. She co-writes the blog I Love I Need with her sister and is currently contracting with Food Network and freelancing for various lifestyle, health and pet websites. Check out her personal website and don’t hesitate to contact her to swap freelance stories.

So, what prompted you to quit your job? Was it one moment or was it simmering for awhile?

I had wanted to quit my most recent job, in some ways, even before I started it. I had been working on the advertising/sales side of online publishing, first as an assistant, sales planner and ad trafficker and finally as a client services manger, for three and a half years. While I had wonderful co-workers and great, supportive bosses at both companies, I wasn't happy in advertising and knew my jump from company to company wouldn't change that. I took the job hoping to move into a more editorial or creative position within a year (I had been told that the company was "all about" moving people internally at my interview) and when it didn't happen and time continued to tick by without any concrete plans for a future transition, I knew it was time for a change.

What (if anything) did you do to prepare for the transition out of your 9-5?

Over the time I spent in advertising, I tried to make as many professional connections as possible. I never burned bridges and tried not to blame anyone at work for my situation. I knew I wanted to be writing (in any capacity), so I kept in touch with those early connections and stayed persistent (or lightly stalked, whichever) in order to secure my first freelance writing gigs. Those opportunities gave me the confidence and small financial cushion I needed to feel comfortable taking the next step.

Let's get real: how did you feel the day you quit? Liberated, scared sh*tless, nauseous?

The morning I decided to put in my notice, I was all: "I'm totally quitting today, ain't nothing gonna hold me down!" but when the time came to actually do it, I was shaking like a leaf. Fortunately, my boss had known it was a long time coming (we had discussed what I may do next when it became clear that I wasn't getting the help I needed to move into a role that would make me happy) and was very accepting of it. If she saw that my palms were sweating and my voice was cracking, she had the decency not to judge me for it 🙂 I think, in some ways, everyone feels this panic--physically and mentally--when they're about to do something scary, no matter how prepared they are for it.

Tell us about the days and months following quitting your job- were you overwhelmed with work? Eating Ramen? Networking your butt off?

The two weeks or so felt strange--like an extended vacation that could end any minute. It felt like I would wake up the next day and just go back into work, like any normal day. I was lucky to have some writing work to keep me busy (the same work I used to do at night and on the weekends in my spare time) and spent the rest of my weekdays reconnecting with people, sending pitches and basically telling the world, "I'm available to write for you! Please hire me!" It's only been four months since my last day working full-time so in a lot of ways, it still doesn't feel real.

How do you feel now? Do you wish you transitioned earlier? Do you wish you didn't go out on your own at all?

In July, I accepted a contract position working for Foodnetwork.com in their office 30 hours/week, so I'm readjusting to life in an office three days a week. I'm thrilled to have this project though, and hope it continues on to more contract or freelance work. I'm still juggling my writing gigs and picking up more when I have the time, and it's so nice having two weekdays all to myself to focus on the projects I want to. In a lot of ways, I think I'm still transitioning and am curious to see what next year brings, but I'm so glad I made the leap when I did. It was the scariest thing I've done, and even though I still feel panicky thinking too far into the future, I'm optimistic that I'll always look back on 2013 and have no regrets about going out on my own.

Do you have any advice for others considering going out on their own? Words of warning? Caveats?

Yes! I shared these tips on my friend Amanda's blog, Advice From a Twenty Something, and would love to provide them again here. Even though I still don't have it all figured out (clearly) I have found that these four things have been crucial to my success.

  1. Be realistic—I knew I wanted to leave my job about six months before I actually did, but giving myself a reasonable amount of time to make the changes I wanted helped me to stay positive even when I felt bad about my situation.
  2. Think about YOU—it was so easy for me to get tripped up about what my coworkers are doing, how much my friends were making and what I thought I should do next. Guess what? None of these things made me happy. To find something I’m good at and actually care about doing has given me the drive to keep networking, writing and e-mailing folks every day.
  3. Say “no”—I don’t regret anything I’ve done professionally, but I do wish I was better about saying no to things that didn’t feel like the right fit or that I did because I felt like I had to. This is something we all need to be stronger about business-wise, and I hope to remember it as I consider future assignments and projects.
  4. Grow what you love—I left my job with the hopes of building a portfolio of work I’m proud of, finding a role that fits my skills and passions and give my little blog the time and effort it deserves with my wonderful sister. Who’s to say if any of these things will make me particularly rich or successful, but I can only hope that everyone gets the chance to grow something they care about.

Questions for Jessica? Ask them in the comments!