Get the map to quit your corporate job and build a business and life you love

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Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. 

This is excerpted from my recent interview with Lori Hildebrand @mycoachlori.  Lori is the authority in helping female entrepreneurs turn their side hustle into their full-time gig. She teaches motivated women to live with time and financial freedom, all while maintaining successful careers, and strategically transitioning to full-time entrepreneurship.  Learn more about Lori at

SmallBizLady: Is leaving the traditional corporate career path for a life of an entrepreneur realistic in this economy?

Lori Hildebrand: Absolutely. We live in a “gig economy” now! It’s simply a matter of de-programming your “traditional 9-5” mindset and reprogramming what works for you.

SmallBizLady: What should side-hustlers really be focused on in their very limited time?

Lori Hildebrand: When building a new business, cash flow is king. Focus on Income Producing Activities (IPA’s). These may not be the most fun activities, but you can’t have a business without it!

SmallBizLady: How can they maximize their time, without the guilt, while at work, working on the side-hustle, and family time?

Lori Hildebrand: Time blocking & focused activity is key. Your employer is paying you for a job, always stay on task at work. Your family and friends need your time as well. Discuss the priorities with your partner and children, talk about why this is important to you, and decide together what hours will be for business activities, and what will be for family time. Deciding together what our goals are, why you are building this business and how it impacts them (both now and in the future), will help everyone get on the same page. No guilt here!

SmallBizLady: How can side-hustlers stay motivated at the corporate job, when they’d rather be working on their passion?

Lori Hildebrand: Think of your JOB as your business loan and a place to build relationships. You never know where those relationships will lead later on. But knowing that you can show up, do a good job for your employer and draw a paycheck, while building your side-hustle on your own time, make it so much easier!

SmallBizLady: How do you know when it’s time to take the entrepreneurial leap?

Lori Hildebrand: I equate this to investing in the stock market, it depends on your risk tolerance, stage of life, and income requirements. Acknowledge where you are now, what is realistic and what you can push yourself to create. Do not compare to others, you never know what their life is like, especially if you are only seeing their social media version of life!  Once you are ready to get over your fear and make it happen, get to it!

SmallBizLady: For the woman that believes she’s limited by the many hats that she wears in addition to being a business owner, what have you done to ensure that your business doesn’t limit you but actually creates a platform for you to have it all?

Lori Hildebrand: Delegate!  In my experience, leverage is key. As women especially, we tend to feel the need to do it all. I am a recovering ‘do it all’ girl too, it’s one day at a time sometimes! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, in your personal life and business life. It’s ok to have someone clean your house, it’s ok to have child care sometimes, it’s ok to have a virtual assistant help you with your business systems and support. Take a hard look at the things in all areas of your life that are draining you, and get someone else to them. Leverage is critical!

SmallBizLady: What is the one action step that the attendees can implement right now to consistently generate bigger, better, higher profits?

Lori Hildebrand: People hold the money, you need to talk to people. If you are not making the money you want right now, stop what you are doing (including designing your new logo, business cards, website, social media posts, etc) and pick up the phone. Simply make a list of 20 people you haven’t talked to in a while and reach out to them!

SmallBizLady: How much money should you have in the bank, before leaving a corporate job?

Lori Hildebrand: This is another “risk tolerance” questions. I’m not going to give you a magic number that says when you reach THIS, now you can quit. Your life is your life, I don’t proclaim to be the expert in your life. However, you should know what it costs to live your life. What is the minimum monthly amount you need to continue your standard of living (including insurance premiums, deductibles, and emergency savings). When you have enough to fill in the gaps for the number of months you are comfortable with, that is your magic number. The key here, is knowing that number exactly. So you know when you reach it. Otherwise, it’ll always be a “someday” answer for you.

SmallBizLady: What is a realistic time frame when choosing your leave date?

Lori Hildebrand: When I made the decision to leave my corporate job, I had only been side-hustling for about 4 months.  I may have jumped fairly quickly for some people, but I knew I was ready to go.  You need to decide your date, and start hustling. When you make a real decision, there is no turning back, there is only forward. Decide what you really want, get through your fear and make it happen!

SmallBizLady: Are their ways to make the transition, in small increments, rather than all at once?

Lori Hildebrand: Absolutely! Reduce your hours, switch from 60 hours of salary to 35 hours of hourly pay. Or go part time (be sure you know how many hours of work keep your benefits going, if that’s important to you), ask to do contract or project based work. There are so many alternatives available now, you just need to research your company and industry and find out what’s possible!

SmallBizLady: It seems overwhelming to be managing so many hats, how do you handle it all?

Lori Hildebrand: The terms ‘single mom’ and ‘solo-preneur’ do not mean I do it all! Ask for support, you are not super woman and do not need to pretend to be. Child care, house cleaning, meal prep help, family, friends, co-ops, VA’s, accountability partners, bookkeeper, business coach, all help me live my best life.  All the hats don’t need to always sit on my head!

SmallBizLady: What’s the best/simplest way to set goals and see results that matter?

Lori Hildebrand: If you have your big vision for the year, break it down into quarters (12 weeks at time), then months, then weeks, then daily actions.  When you work backwards starting with the big goals, it’s much easier to see what actions you need to take to accomplish this. If you are a visual person, MindMaps are genius (google that if you are unfamiliar).  Finding your daily action plan to accomplish 1 quarter at a time is very doable for everyone!

SmallBizLady: Once the corporate job is behind you, it seems like the fear could take over pretty quickly, how can you keep pushing through the fear in those moments?

Lori Hildebrand: Fear is real, and you need to plan for it. The first day you wake up without a job to go to can be scary. But, by planning and setting yourself up with support (a business coach, accountability partner, action plans, etc) you can get out of fear by getting into action.

SmallBizLady: How can entrepreneurs overcome the potentially sporadic income, when they’ve been used to a regular paycheck?

Lori Hildebrand: Set yourself up to pay yourself from your business. Just like in the corporate world, people can get into the ‘paycheck to paycheck’ trap, as entrepreneurs it’s easy to slip into the ‘client to client’ trap.  Instead, focus on the business making money, and paying yourself on a regular basis (even if it’s a small amount in the beginning, it’s the habit to get into). Talk to your CPA or bookkeeper to help you establish this properly for you.

If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat:

For more tips on how to start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog


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