Becoming an Entrepreneur – from office job to online cleaning company

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Becoming an Entrepreneur – from office job to online cleaning company

It’s not unusual to start a business on the side while still employed in a regular job, but it’s a lot of work! Some find that it requires too much time and energy and pack it in, but success is possible for those who stay the course – like my guest today, Kat Buckley.  


Leaving the corporate world as an employee and to set up my own online cleaning business called HappyCleans was both exciting and terrifying. I managed to balance everything, but it did require discipline, planning, and focus. I am now free to run the company remotely and only need to work on it myself less than 10 hours on it a week. In the first few years, this was very different and I worked 60-70 hour week but there are things that you can do to maximize your chances of success.

Planning, Planning, Planning

While the adage “If you want to see God laugh, make a plan,” is often true, you are not likely to succeed working an office job and growing your own business if you do not plan effectively.

Get a planner that you like. It can be a basic planner with daily or weekly layouts or a fancy planner with stickers, decorations, and removable pages. Write down every single thing that needs to get done and when you’re going to do it. While you’re still in your regular job, you’ll find a lot of work will need to be done in evenings and weekends. Work life balance won’t really be possible in the beginning so it’s important to focus on your long term goals, knowing you will get this time back in the future if your company is successful. Motivation needs to come from within as even though you’ll be making progress with your company, it is unlikely that any money will come in so you’ll need to stick with it in spite of that.

Schedule Your Time Carefully

While working your regular job and beginning your fantastic new business, you will have to meticulously schedule your time. Schedule at least a few hours for dinner or meals and “off-time” so that you can sleep and rest. If you do not schedule some time for yourself, you may find that you are not eating dinner at a consistent time or that you are missing meals altogether and that your productivity suffers. Not all hours spent working are equal and it’s important to be as productive as possible when you are. While an occasional missed meal is fine, you will need to make sure that you are staying fit and healthy during this time. Poor eating habits can lead to illness and decrease your stamina. Nothing can destroy your hard work more than mistakes you make when tired or ill.

Save Every Nickel

Making the jump from the corporate world to being your own boss is liberating, but it that feeling quickly fades if you’re struggling badly for money so it’s important to save every bit of money that you can. Lower your car insurance rates by raising deductibles or lowering payout limits. Couponing, selling unused items, and even simple things like getting rid of cable or satellite television can also save you money. You will not be able to make the transition without significant savings as most businesses take time to turn a profit. I know this first hand as I went a full year before I could even take a small wage ( and even then it was about one third of my previous salary!) If you have enough in savings, this may not be devastating, but if you do not have enough saved, you are putting yourself in jeopardy.

Use Retirement Savings Wisely

Cashing in a 401K might seem like a good idea at the time, but the penalties for early withdrawal can be steep. Make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks. If the business does not work out the way you had hoped, how will making this withdrawal affect your future? You will still need retirement savings. Can you live off of what is left? If you cannot, you will want to make plans for how to get enough money into savings for your future too.

Taking the Leap of Faith

At some point, you will need to make permanent move from employee to employer. Make sure that you can make this leap without totally disrupting the rest of your life, but you cannot continue to work such long hours forever. Have faith in your decisions and choices, and make the leap as soon as you can, but be sure that you can live with the consequences as you are likely to lose health insurance and other benefits. My advice would be to only leave your day job when you’ve a comfortable amount of savings as even really clever and innovative new startups can fail. And remember that you don’t need to always reinvent the wheel as I certainly didn’t with my cleaning company!

Mental and physical health are also essential to your well-being. While having enough money can minimize stress, which improves both mental and physical health, it is not the only thing to consider. Working long hours with little rest or relaxation while essentially doing two jobs is not good for you either. Make the leap when it is best physically, mentally, and financially.

Bottom Line

Sometimes your business will succeed and other times it won’t. This can be tough to take emotionally but if you give it your best shot you should have no regrets. You may often learn more about your industry and strengths and use this going forward so not everything is always lost. One thing you can consider as the company grows is to hire people to compensate for your weaknesses and grow as a company. You can’t be good at everything, so I had someone to help with the website design early in my business and it saved me so much time! Best of luck and believe in yourself. 🙂

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Becoming an Entrepreneur – from office job to online cleaning company
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Kat Buckley

Kat Buckley

Kat Buckley is a small business owner, originally from Ireland. Her passions include start-ups, the environment, and healthy living.

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  1. Avatar Seana Turner on October 7, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    Such great advice. Being an entrepreneur can soak up every minute of every day if you let it. I love that it is suggested to schedule sleep and meal time! This may sound unnecessary, but it really matters. We all need time to step away and decompress, and it is very important to put some boundaries around work time. I also relate to the “ups” and “downs” of profitability. Some seasons you can’t keep up with the work, and others you feel like nothing is coming in. Good to take a long view when evaluating your success!

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on October 8, 2020 at 12:29 pm

      It really can! When I started my business as a side venture, when I wasn’t at my regular job, I was working on my business, pretty well every evening and weekend. When I finally left my job, it took me a while to clue in that I no longer needed to work all day every day!

  2. Avatar Sabrina Quairoli on October 26, 2020 at 9:37 am

    Great advice. We need to be flexible in our target audience and our services early on to find the right niche for the company. Not all businesses will pick the right service or product the first time. Be kind to oneself is important through the process and to never give up.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on October 26, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      Those are great points, Sabrina. Sometimes the only way to know for sure whether something will fly is to give it a shot.

  3. Linda Samuels Linda Samuels on October 26, 2020 at 9:53 am

    Your journey to start your own business sounds so well thought out. Bravo to you, Kat! It’s a completely different mindset to go from being an employee with a regular salary to running your own business. The work/life balance piece can be especially complex, not to mention the financial differences. But there is something so liberating about having your own business and creating your life on your terms, that some of the challenges are well worth it.

    I remember when I started my business almost 28 years ago, I was working for a corporation. At the time, we had two babies, my husband was freelancing, and all of our medical benefits were through our job. So for a while I worked at my job while I launched my organizing business. But there came a point when I was working 24/7 and I knew I had to make a decision. I crunched the numbers, did some future forecasting and went over things with my husband and entrepreneur father. I was scared. After my dad looked at the numbers and listened to my ideas about the future, he said, “Go for it!” And I did. Never turned back.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on October 26, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      Linda, thank you for sharing that! As much as I know about you, I’m always learning something new.

  4. Avatar Janet Schiesl on October 26, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Great advice. Starting a business is difficult but so rewarding as well. I’d never go back to working for someone else.
    To your point about taking a leap of faith, I have a friend who offered me this advice when I started my business. She said, “you are never going to do this full-time, until you do it full-time”. It was good advice for me.

    • Avatar Janet Barclay on October 28, 2020 at 8:51 am

      Ooh, I like that! Your friend made a very good point. It’s one of the things Arlene Dickinson says in her book All In (see my review in Related Posts below).

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