Why I Left My 9-5 Job to Start an Online Business
I’m Courtney, the owner and designer behind The Brand Loft, an online design studio focused on brand identity and website creation for creative women in business.
I haven’t always owned my own business. In fact, it was only a year ago that I quit a well-paying job (with opportunity for growth) at a stable company run by fantastic people who genuinely cared about their employees.
Yep, you read that right.
I paid my bills in full and on time.
I paid off over 75% of my personal debt.
I maintained a clean, organic plant-based diet and slimmed down dramatically because of it.
I decorated my home interior so beautifully it looked like a magazine spread.
I lived in a charming 1920’s home in a cozy town with my boyfriend and our adorable son.
I was “living the dream,” but I was miserable.
Because I wasn’t living MY dream.
My job was draining me. I spent 8 hours a day nonstop problem-solving (sometimes more because of my own workaholic tendencies - hey, I’m working on it!) in an industry that I had no personal interest in: aluminum sales. What I enjoyed most about the job was learning and mastering new systems, troubleshooting technical issues for myself and others, crafting well-written emails to customers, trying out a new pack of colored pens or highlighters (but seriously, am I alone here?), and of course socializing with colleagues.
But definitely NOT aluminum.
Unfortunately for me, my job didn’t leave much room for creativity. By the time I got home, I was so mentally exhausted from putting all of my energy into doing something that was so far outside of my general interests and my comfort zone as an introvert. I struggled to turn off thoughts about work and switch to a more creative mindset.
I received judgement from those around me who thought that I should just go to work, put in my time, and make a paycheck because “that’s what adults do.” (Raise your hand if you’ve heard something like this from someone in your own life! 🙋🏻♀️)
So that’s what I did. 🤦🏻♀️
I let those few negative opinions control my life and I completely ignored the ones telling me to do what I needed to do to be happy (including my own). I stayed at my job for a few more months until I couldn’t hide my unhappiness anymore.
My health quickly started to decline from all of the stress which led to depression and anxiety, and eventually even manifested into physical ailments. I started to dread going to work solely because I began to see it as this huge blocker keeping me from living my life how I wanted to live it.
I hated being confined to an office with minimal windows for 8 hours a day (especially on those beautiful, sunny days - a rarity in Cleveland)!
I hated working from the same location every single day with no exceptions.
I hated being constrained to working between hours that were dictated by someone else.
I especially hated missing milestones and bonding time with my then two-year-old son. By the time I got home from work, he was hungry and tired (and so was I), which didn’t leave us much room for playing together or getting to know each other.
I desperately needed to find an alternative.
So I did some research to determine which career fields had the most opportunity for flexibility (I’m talking work-from-home/choose-your-own-hours flexibility) that best aligned with my own interests. I decided to go back to school for computer programming with the goal of working for an online company. I chose a local coding bootcamp because I couldn’t bear the thought of spending another two years completing a degree at a traditional university.
I quit my job and started bootcamp just two weeks after my last day of work. I only had enough money saved up to last those three months of bootcamp and not a penny more (that’s another story for another day 😉), but I took the leap and began my new journey!
That’s when my life really started to turn around.
Of course I learned how to code. But the biggest takeaway I got from bootcamp was a newfound self-confidence to start my own business. Starting a business was something I had never even considered before. Seriously, I thought my career counselor was crazy when she first suggested freelancing to me - I was like, “Who, me?! Oh, I can’t do that.” But all these new and wonderful people around me (instructors, my career counselor, fellow students, and even the CEO) persisted; they praised my work and supported and uplifted me to go for it.
So that’s what I did.
I replaced all the negative opinions around me with positive, supportive ones and that’s how I reclaimed power and control of my life.
My life may not look as luxurious from the outside as it did before, but my work life is significantly more fulfilling than it was before which has drastically changed my personal life for the better. Because of starting an online business, I now have the freedom to live my life how I want, when I want, and where I want.
I work outside or with the windows open on those beautiful, sunny days.
I work from a different location every day. Sometimes that means different rooms in my house (in my office, on the couch, from my bed, or at the kitchen table) and sometimes that means going to a coffee shop and co-working with other local women in biz.
I work only between hours that work for me. Some days this means working 10am - 6pm with a midday break for lunch. Most days it means working in two-hour chunks with short breaks in between and usually a midday nap (nothing wrong with that)!
I spend significantly more time with my son. In fact, I took several breaks from writing this post to make a snack, play with trucks, and have an impromptu dance party.
For those of you out there who are struggling to find happiness in the 9-5 grind like I was,
you’re not alone!
What’s holding you back from ditching the 9-5 life and starting your own side hustle or full-time gig? Is it the negative opinions of others?
Let me know in the comments below!