If you’re really lucky, making the financial shift from employment to owning your own business isn’t an issue for you because you either aren’t currently working, or you can “afford” to quit and just launch into working on your business, full time.

But if you’re like the vast majority of the people we’ve trained to have successful businesses as Virtual Assistants, that’s not your story.

In your story, you need to work to make money to, in part or entirely, provide a home, food, necessities and some niceties for yourself and maybe for a family.

For you, making the financial shift to owning your own business has to be done verrrrrrry smartly, because you can’t afford to do it any other way.

So I’m going to share how to do it smartly. Fair warning: the first part of this is likely to be depressing as all get out, but I want you to know the reality of what you’re considering. And I promise to give you some good news after.

To start, the question you need to ask yourself is:

“Given my reality (needs for money, care I provide for my family, etc.) what do I need to do to get from here to where I want to be?”

Some people think they’ll work full-time and build a business in the evenings and during weekend days, transitioning from their job when their practice brings in enough money to replace what they were making, dollar for dollar.

Talk about a hard row to hoe!

First, to make enough to replace your current income, dollar for dollar, you’d likely have two full-time jobs—your employed position, and your VA practice. No one can sustain those kinds of hours for very long. Especially while engaging in self-care. And if there are kids who need attention. And a spouse. And maybe furry beasties.

Second, people, generally speaking, work during their daytimes. Even if you found clients who would be ok with you working on their stuff in the evenings and weekends (and there are those who will be just fine with that!), they are generally going to want to talk with you, at least interview you, during the day. So availability—even occasional—might be a barrier to making that work.

It can happen, but what I want you to know is that it will be far more difficult, and it will take far longer for you to have the practice you want.

What you most need to transition is financial reserves—a cushion of money that you can dive into if you need to. Most people don’t have that. Again, if you do, fabulous! You can actually stop reading this right now and go on with your day.

But if you know that you don’t have financial reserves, read on. Because as part of your plan to get into your own business, you’ll need to consider how you’ll want to build those reserves. It’s because of those that you’ll be able to quit your job, work as a VA, and have the cushion you need to pay the bills and live on without putting your family in jeopardy, or making yourself sick with worry.

When making the financial leap from employment to self-employment, you need to do it smartly. It's ok to stretch but never ok to suffer.

And in the spirit of transitioning smartly, there are really only five ways to do it:

#1: Quit your job cold, and work full-time in your practice

Unless you already have fabulous financial reserves, or a partner/spouse/family to support you, this would never be a smart way to transition, and I don’t recommend it. Having said that, I’ve seen people do it, and do it successfully. My former VA Marie, did just that. And it worked wonderfully well for her.

#2: Keep your current job, change your lifestyle, put away the money you save until you have some reserves

Usually, this involves moving to someplace less expensive (I’ve known people to sell their houses!), cutting way back on what you spend, living on a tight budget, etc. The money saved begins to build your reserves.

#3: Keep your current lifestyle, get a better paying job, put away the extra money until you have some reserves

The “extra” that you put away is the difference between what you earn now and what you used to earn in the old job.

# 4: Keep your current job, keep your lifestyle, get a second job, and put all that income away until you have some reserves

If you have the energy to do a full and part time job, this may be a quicker way to build some reserves. And, you can work as a VA, part time, to earn this income, if you choose. But remember, it’s probably faster to go get a part-time job, than to work to find clients who are willing to work with you part time. In the time it would take you to find those clients, you could already be earning at a part-time job. See what I mean?

Lastly—and the one that may make the most sense, depending on how much income you need:

#5: Quit your current full-time job. Find employment that will give you a steady part-time income, and work in your VA practice two full days per week

In this way, you have income, and you have specific, defined time to work on building your practice. This time could make it far easier and quicker for you to build it.

An alternate to #5: put yourself on contract work sites like Upwork.com. While the money is rarely “good,” you do get to stay at home while you do it. And being there means that every moment you’re not engaged in a project, you can be working on building your practice the way you really want it to be. Another option would be to look for companies that employee people to work from home.

What I know for sure

If you want to be a VA badly enough, you’ll find a way that will work for you. It’s ok to stretch a bit financially, but it’s not ok for you to really struggle… and it’s certainly not ok for you to starve or put your family at risk.

Be sure to talk with your family, and plan how you’ll transition from where you are now to where you most want to be; whatever path you choose will have to work for all of you.

And this is a great time to let the Manager step up and help you be smart. The other two want this badly, and can be very noisy and foolish in their attempts to get what they want. Let The Manager be in charge now, and work to create the smart plan for transition.