While I regularly write about side hustles, earning more and how amazing it was to leave my day job for self-employment, there are far more reasons to keep your day job than leave it. Your livelihood is no laughing matter, and quitting your job with no game plan can lead to a personal finance disaster. Before you give notice and walk away from a steady income, consider these five reasons to stick with it. After all, the expression “don’t quit your day job” came from somewhere! Read on to find out if it applies to you.
1. You don’t have enough savings
The average person with regular employment should have at least three to six months of expenses saved in an emergency fund. Entrepreneurs and freelancers are best off saving quite a bit more than the minimum three to six months. This is not optional, it is imperative for business owners to have this type of savings.
I sold my house and moved to a new state at the same time I quit my job. Before I sold the house, I had about six months expenses in liquid savings. When I sold the house, that jumped to more than five years of expenses stashed away in the bank. While I am an extreme example of savings, you should seriously consider having a full year’s worth of expenses saved before quitting your job.
2. You don’t have a viable business (yet)
When I quit my day job, I had earned $40,000 the year before working on my business as a side hustle. In the months leading up to the big decision, I was bringing in about $5,000 in monthly revenue. I figured if I quit my job and focused on the business full-time, I could dramatically increase that, but I had a comfortable starting point when I went full-time. After all, I had a wife, daughter and dog to support on my income and couldn’t afford to fail.
If you don’t have a viable business, or are still working on it, consider delaying leaving the day job. Work on your business as a side hustle until it is ready to support your family. That is the point you should pull the trigger and go full-time. Until then, you may not be quite ready to risk going all-in.
3. Your side hustle doesn’t come with benefits
When I had a day job, I worked at large companies, often in the Fortune 500. There are some big benefits that come along with Fortune 500 employment. I had great medical, dental, vision and life insurance that were heavily subsidized. I had employer 401(k) matching, a discounted employee stock purchase plan and other benefits that are common with large employers.
Now I spend well over $900 per month for health insurance. I still have not figured out how California’s disability insurance system works -- they hung up on me when I called to ask. My retirement savings have been funneled into my insurance. Even earning significantly more on the top line, it doesn’t feel like I’m actually earning more than I used to. Don’t discount the value of benefits!
4. You have not tested your market
Have you done any market testing for your new gig? Do you have any committed customers? Have you actually completed a job successfully and earned revenue? If you can’t say yes to all of those, you should consider that it isn’t quite time to quit your day job yet.
Market research is vital to succeed in your business. In his Wall Street Journal bestseller Will it Fly, online income rockstar Pat Flynn goes into the detail behind product and marketing testing before you spend the time, money and effort on a new project. Make sure your new project is set to fly before you quit your job.
5. Your job provides a steady income stream
When you have a full-time job, you don’t have to worry about where your next paycheck is coming from. You don’t have to wonder if you can pay the bills next month. For the self-employed, these are constant questions. Particularly for new business owners, there is a lot of uncertainty.
A steady paycheck has more value than just the dollars that come into your bank account every payday. Your day job is a reliable way to support yourself and your family. Are you sure you want to walk away from that?
The world of self-employment appears glamorous, free and wonderful from the outside. In many ways it is. But before you jump into freelancing or self-employment with both feet, it is a good idea to dip your toe in the water and test things out. Once you have your finances, savings and business plan ready, then you can dive in with gusto and enjoy the excitement and challenges that come with running your own business and working as your own boss.
(By Eric Rosenberg)
This story originally appeared on Due