Maybe You DON’T Need a Safety Net

No Safety Net

There’s a common piece of advice that floats around the startup community: ‘Build up a safety net before you take the leap/quit your job/start your business/whatever.’

It means you should make sure you have some cash in reserve before you make any drastic alterations to your income, such as quitting your regularly-paid job to focus 100% on making money through an online endeavour. Six months of living expenses is commonly cited as the smallest amount you should have in the bank.

It’s sensible advice, of course. If you have a few months’ worth of cash in the bank before you quit, you’ll have more of a ‘runway’. That’s the amount of time you have in which to start making more money than you spend.

The longer your runway, the more time you have to figure out how to make this work. More time to plan, prepare, think, etc.

So common sense dictates that a longer runway is better, naturally.

But what if it isn’t?

Now I’m not saying everybody should quit their jobs IMMEDIATELY to throw themselves full swing into building a business. There are lots of factors at play. If you’re raising children, I’d say that having enough money to feed, shelter and clothe them is more important than your burning desire to do your own thing. Ditto, maybe your business idea is crap and will never make you any money, but you don’t know that yet because you haven’t tested it. You should probably figure out if you can actually make money doing this first.

But you know what? If you’ve already made some money for yourself, doing what you want to do — you can make more.

And having a shorter runway may be the catalyst you need to get your fucking arse in gear.

Any time I have a panic and think I’ve gone insane by starting my own business, I remind myself that, Hey, plenty of fine people have already given me money to do this. So I can find more.

When I quit my job, I had like, three clients. Maybe. I forget. Anyway, one of them was paying me £5 per article, which is obviously abysmal. But they were giving me five articles per day, five days a week, and they didn’t show any signs of slowing.

That’s £125 per week. Not much, but it was enough to get by on, because I had rigorously cut all my expenses. I reasoned that I would find more clients easily enough, and that I would find better-paying clients too. And I did — on both counts. It wasn’t long before I ditched that £5 client.

There have been times along the way that I have thought, Oh shit, I need to make some more money soon or I’m going to run out.

Sure enough, I’ve always managed. Because the thing is, when you NEED that extra money — need as in, ‘not going to be able to afford food if I don’t get it’ need — you can bet your fucking life you’re going to do everything you can to get it.

It’s easy to be lazy when you have a lot of cash in the bank. It’s easy to think, ‘Oh, I can relax a bit for now, because I’ve got the next couple of months covered.’

You’ve probably heard the story of how it took me ten months to actually start my business, despite the fact that I had quit my job in order to do so, right? I credit this entirely to the fact that I had several thousand pounds in savings, so I didn’t need to get started ‘just yet’.

It wasn’t until I’d blitzed through my savings that I actually did anything. I definitely don’t recommend blitzing through your savings just to get to that point.

But if you’re ‘waiting’ to quit your job, waiting for the perfect moment to finally launch yourself fully into your business, ask yourself this: Do you have a legitimate reason? Or are you just scared?

Fuck yes, you should be scared. This is a big deal. But maybe a big hit of fear is exactly what you need.


If you’re interested in becoming a freelance writer but don’t know where to start, I can help! Registration is now open for the November session of The Quickstart Class: How to Become a Freelance Writer in 4 Weeks with No Prior Experience. I’ve also launched The Self-Study Edition, which could be for you if going at your own pace is more your style and you want to get started right away. Click here for more information and to sign up.

YA LIKE THAT, HUH? SUBSCRIBE ⤸
Twice-monthly emails featuring:

  • My private tales of life and biz
  • Links to my latest blog posts
  • Other good shit from the web
  • Subscriber-only deals
  • Never more than 1 email a week, because fuck that.

    8 Comments

    1. This is me. This is me slowly saving money so I can grow my escape fund. This is me slowly saving money so I can grow my escape fund and finally leave my full time job. But you’re right, I could leave now. I think ten years’ of having a regular pay cheque, doing 9 – 5 stuff has seduced me into thinking consistency is the best and safest way to earn money. But you’re right, Karen. Actually, fight or flight is actually better. The fear of not having a salary would kick me into action and do more. Plus, I would have time to do more! Argh!! I’m getting there :)

    2. Today I felt this fear, and it launched my ass into gear. The feeling of having more than enough $ in the bank SOUNDS good on paper, but it actually produced more complacency and lack of action on my biz goals than anything else. And, ironically, produced MORE anxiety in my for not taking action.

      I like what Paul Mort says: Taking action is the biggest cure for any anxiety or fear.

      1. I remember feeling like this at one particular point last year, and it launched me into action. I scored three big jobs that lasted me several months after that. If I hadn’t felt the fear, I probably wouldn’t have done. And now I’d be living on the streets. Ha!

    3. Yo go girl. I quit a few months ago with about a 2 week runway and I’m married with 3 kids! When you have to hustle, you have to hustle and you WILL get business. I just wrote on this exact thing yesterday, lol. I think fear is what keeps so many people from taking the leap, in fact, I know it is. Once you leap though, the net will appear, as long as you get off your ass and make it happen! Thanks for speaking up!

    Comments are closed.