When I was younger, I was told I could be or do anything.
From coercing family members to watch a choreographed performance for a dollar fee to starting a membership-only online book club, and later a lifestyle blog and part-time graphic design business, entrepreneurship was a natural part of me.
It wasn’t until after university that I was forced to get a “real job.” And soon after I realized that wasn’t going to cut it.
At first, it seemed easy. I regularly thought to myself, “I just have to sit here for 8 hours a day, pretend to do something useful, and collect a paycheck (more money than I’ve ever had in my pocket).”
The paycheck from my full-time job gave me access to things I hadn’t yet experienced. It was an adult allowance to do, and be, whoever I wanted to be.
Two years later, it wasn’t clear to me why people spent their lives commuting to a place where they were undervalued, underpaid, and creatively undernourished.
The real world
Up until you graduate college, most of your life is spent within the four walls of a classroom. If you’re anything like me, you likely spent much of your adult life worrying about a degree. Perhaps you felt unsettled about an uncertain and undecided future.
College life is much like the life of an entrepreneur. You manage your time in the way you want. Money comes and goes. There’s no fast and hard rules to it, for the most part. Get good grades so you can land an internship and get a “good” job.
As for me, I soon realized that my full-time job guaranteed one salary, one role, and eight mind-numbing hours each day.
That wasn’t going to cut it. So, I launched a side hustle, a copywriting and design business to support creative entrepreneurs (people who were what I wanted to be). They were living their best lives. And underneath it all, I ended up building something much larger than I had ever anticipated.
When I fully embraced my creativity, I would quit my full-time job.
Young and restless
At 23 I learned that people twice my age wouldn’t take me seriously. Yet, those same people worked a lifetime only to end up in a mediocre position.
It felt like a barrier. I understood their dilemma. At the start of my career, it was hard to consider the opportunity, just drop it all and leave. But I learned age has nothing to do with potential. Age fosters growth.
Before I handed in my notice, a lack of job security was all I could think about. I had saved just enough from my part-time business to ensure my rent was paid, and I was fed, dressed and entertained for three months. After that, If I didn’t make things happen I would have to reluctantly march back to a 9-5 job.
But thankfully that didn’t happen. I sacrificed the so-called “golden parachute” and job security of working for corporate America. Their “we can fire you whenever we please” job security wasn’t secure at all.
I did forgo a regular and steady paycheck. And I was beyond seeing the same numbers in my account each month. I gained so much more.
Quitting a dead end job to pursue your passion will offer more security than you realize.
In my journey from employee to entrepreneur I’ve learned some invaluable lessons. Here are three aspiring business owners can keep in mind.
1. Monetize your downtime
Your downtime doesn’t have to be monetized, but it can be. Think about it this way. You can access almost any type of consumer anywhere in the world. You can reach:
25 million shoppers on Etsy
244 million active users on Amazon
317 million monthly active users on Twitter
150 million active users on Pinterest, 75 billion ideas shared
1.79 billion active users on Facebook
more than 27.5 million Kickstarter funders
2. Find your inner peace
Running an online business is tough. It’s not fall-in-your-lap, land-on-your-feet kinda stuff. It is raw and depending on the type of business you build, much of it is based on one-on-one connections.
In September of 2015, I started my online business to help creatives launch their online passion projects. What I noticed most was the change in my attitude and inner voice. In an office setting, I was sassy (not in a good way). I was quick to judge. I was literally the negative voice — the buzzkill — on projects that I often threw in the “too hard” basket.
As a creative business owner I’m now filled with inspiration and ideas. I’m an innovator, a brainstormer, a force in digital tactics and strategies. I’m a better version of myself. I wake up earlier, drink less alcohol, look after my body and care more for the people around me.
3. Embrace your freedom of time
As an entrepreneur you will fail time and time again. It’s lonely at times, to be the only voice in your head. You don’t always have access to boardroom meetings or break room chit-chat, it’s all virtual.
You won’t believe how little time you have when you become a full-time entrepreneur. Personally, days fly by now. I’m not waiting for the clock to strike 5 p.m. My daily life is simple, but meaningful.
Some days may be rushed, but no day is ever slow anymore. I can fill all my waking hours with client projects, social media, prospecting, trip sto the beach, yoga, meditation and design.
A desk job and a guaranteed paycheck may be a comfort for some. But the ability to live each day fully, on my terms, is comfort for me.
This article has been edited.
Amie Hamling is the owner of creative copywriting and web design studio, The Creative Blog Co. She lives in Sydney, Australia, but plans to move her online business to Asia and live her dream laptop life on the beach. Connect with @creativeblogco on Twitter.