How to Convince Your Spouse to Let You Quit Your Job
Two years ago, I was running a mildly successful personal development blog. And by mildly, I mean I had 10 readers.
But I loved my dorky little space on the internet, and I dreamed about expanding it into a business with flashy digital products and helpful private coaching sessions.
I saw other people (younger people, grr!) getting paid good money for the work I was doing for free.
You know what would make this even easier, I thought. Quitting my day job as an editor!
It seemed like the perfect plan. By quitting my editing job, I’d get back 9 hours a day that I could devote to my startup business.
All I had to do was convince my husband Chris.
He had zero experience with entrepreneurship and was happy in his cushy corporate job. But my enthusiasm and starry-eyed expression must have been something to behold because he agreed.
So I sent in my resignation letter (I worked from home), packed up my Elements of Style, and dove head first into my life coaching business.
I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.
If your day job isn’t filling you with joy and happiness, you may be tempted to call it quits and start your own business. However, if you’ve got a romantic partner, then that decision isn’t solely yours.
But sometimes you need to be brave and trust your gut…and ask your spouse to trust you too.
Here’s how you can convince your spouse to let you quit your job.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s not about convincing at all.
Um, Don’t Quit Your Day Job
To show you how naïve I was, the idea of staying at my day job while I built up my business in my spare time never occurred to me.
Honestly, I’d gotten to the place of no return where I was so burned out and disillusioned that I needed a dramatic fresh start. No Plan B. No safety net. Just quit.
This is not a good way to start a business. In fact, this is a freakin’ terrible way to start a business!
Quitting a well-paying job is not something to be done on a whim. Let’s add getting a tattoo and having a baby on that list too.
I advise my clients NOT to follow my lead. This abrupt decision caused me and my family a ton of stress about money. I assumed my business would make me rich and famous in a month or two…maybe three. Sadly, this is a common entrepreneur mistake.
Most businesses take about 2 years to be considered successful, that is, you’re making the same amount of money as you used to be making at your day job. I finally reached that goal earlier this summer.
But let’s say you’ve done your homework, saved a chunk of money, and have researched all the benefits of working for yourself. Why is this a good decision for your family?
Here’s the thing: there should be no need for you to convince your spouse to let you quit your job. You should have a good enough case and tons of supportive evidence to back up why this is a smart idea.
No convincing needed.
And if you do need to stay at your day job for financial reasons, don’t use it as an excuse to half-ass your business work. I have numerous clients with day jobs, kids, and other obligations but they’re able to grow their own businesses with just 1 hour a day.
Prove It, Hot Stuff
If you’re serious about quitting your job, the you better act serious!
Show your enthusiasm for the work you want to do. This means no sitting on the couch watching reruns or staying in your pajamas all day during the precious hours you have to devote to your business.
As author Steven Pressfield likes to say, you’re either a professional or an amateur. What do your actions say you are?
When you’re first starting a business, you can expect to work more in the beginning as you’re getting things up and running. I used to blog daily to grow my readership, I read everything I could about being an online entrepreneur, and I spent days planning my growth strategy.
Prove to your spouse that you’re serious and create a detailed business plan including your products and services, marketing strategy, launch timelines, monthly/quarterly/yearly goals, and your budget.
Finally, a professional business owner is intrinsically motivated because she loves the work and is not starting a business to escape a bad job situation.
Bloom Where You Are Planted
It’s so, so tempting to spend a ton of money on your business when you’re starting out. You see your competitors with fancy website themes, cool graphics, CRM programs, and all the bells and whistles imaginable.
But if your business isn’t making any money, how can you justify those purchases? You could have the snazziest website in the world, but if you wind up with $3000 of debt you can bet your spouse will be none too pleased.
Think of it this way: would you approve of him or her dropping insane amounts of cash of a hobby, sports car, clothes, or the latest tech gadget? Probably not because those things don’t earn money. And until your business earns money, you can’t be spending willy nilly.
A common phrase I share with my clients is “Bloom where you are planted.” That means use what you got, right where you’re at now. It’s why I use MadMimi instead of an all-in-one CRM and why I use a StudioPress theme instead of hiring a professional designer.
You can still earn money using basic tools. Don’t underestimate what you can do without pulling out your credit card at every turn. Your spouse and your wallet will thank you.
This goes for your clients and customers too. My first clients were my friends who acted as my guinea pigs. They got free coaching, and I got glowing testimonials. Those testimonials led to paying clients and helped position me as an expert.
A quick way to get money when your subscriber list is small and you don’t have many readers is to work with the folks who already know, like, and trust you. In my Entrepreneur Editor Experience program, I help my clients send warm letter campaigns to make easy money even if their businesses are tiny.
Nurture Your Changing Partnership
When you nurture your business, it will grow and develop into something new. As you can imagine, when you earn money on your own, your relationship with your spouse will change too.
You must remember to nurture your partner and continue to reconnect when your relationship dynamic is shifting.
He or she might feel weird about you earning money on your own without a big corporation supporting you. Your partner might have secretly wanted to start a business also but was too scared.
Handle these feelings of uncertainty and jealousy by planning date nights and one-on-one time together. Remind your spouse that your relationship comes first, no matter how successful your business gets.
My business has gone through 2 years of triumphs and failures, but now I’m thisclose to earning more than my hard-working, loving husband. This is something that never would have been possible if I hadn’t quit my corporate job.
But more importantly, it never would have happened without his unwavering support and belief in me. He knew what I was capable of long before I believed it myself.
This post focuses on Step 4 of the Life Editing Process, Rearrange Everything Into a Perfect Flow. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.
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I don’t think I ever seriously thought about quitting my day job and running my own business beyond the vaguest idle day dream… until my day job quit me. When I learnt my employment was coming to an end, I started planning on taking a year out to do a fun Masters (in literary translation). Then somehow within 3 weeks of my last day at work I’d had the opportunity to go in on the dream I never dared to dream could come true, and the keys to a shop.
Three years on and the money is starting to come right (I’ve helped the household budget out by doing the odd bit of contract work in my professional field here and there). I have my own cottage industry business, and am in partnership in a retail store that is ticking along nicely. I’ll admit that I do spend more time than planned on the couch tending to my social media networks, but I’ve also realised that’s because it’s easy when you’re self-employed to work until you drop, and then that’s the result. I’ve got my plans to fix that in the new year simmering away already, and I’ve already got my husband trained to periodically check in on me with what my production schedule looks like to make sure I’m focusing enough on the right areas of my business.
I count myself blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband. While financially we’ve sometimes had to tighten the belt and question the long-term viability of my businesses, a big risk we took this year is paying off and he is almost as enthusiastic about what I do as I am. Seriously, I don’t know how I’d survive without him making sure I’m fed (literally: he does most of our grocery shopping and cooking these days).
Over the years we’ve been together, we’ve jokingly worked out an arrangement for our household roles: he’s CEO, while I’m CFO, CIO and COO… but I reckon he can add chief cook and bottle washer to his job title now. 🙂 To some extent these roles extend into my business too. I’m everything in my sewing business, so it’s nice to have someone to consult with when I need help making a decision about something – and to keep me on track and honest with myself about how I’m doing.
I think my number one tip for making this work is that if you think this might be something you one day want to do, start out ahead of time by getting your mortgage (if you have one) way ahead on payments. It makes it much easier if there’s not so much money coming in for a while if you don’t have to worry about getting behind on that. And when things are a bit leaner, don’t wait until you run out of money to work out how you’re going to pay for things next month. Always be looking 2-3 months ahead at least. Every so often we sit down together and number crunch our bank statements, and from that we make our budget decisions.
Secondly: maybe don’t dream that you’ll be working shorter hours… but do plan to make sure you don’t overwork yourself. I know that sometimes I’m not getting enough time to spend with my husband, but I make sure he knows that I appreciate everything he does to support me and my business. If I’ve got a lot of admin to do, sometimes that becomes our quietly together time. He’ll often sit beside me in the evening surfing the net while I’m doing sales reports. It’s not perfect, but it’s really not that different to sitting side by side watching telly (which we almost never do).
Ooops. When you’re typing in the little comment box it’s hard to see just how much you’ve written. Apologies for the novel!
Oh Sage we have too much in common. I too quit my job without a backup plan. It was then I started blogging and never looked back! Glad you too the leap, even though it was a risky one! It is proving in time that it was totally worth it!
Sage advice. Again. It’s best to grow your new business while remaining employed so you can accomplish many preliminary steps before jumping off The Income Cliff. And the experience you get doing that confirms or disproves the wisdom of your choice for the future.
Reading your blog, and the lessons you learned through life-experience, always educates me.
Thanks, Ally! If I could do it all over again, I would have saved more before quitting my job.
It’s funny because I always admire people that have the guts to quit a job without having something stable on deck. I think it shows confidence and I always was impressed with people that say that they deserve to be treated better and valued more. With that being said, I could NEVER do that myself for many of the reasons that you discuss. There have been so many times that I’ve wanted to get up and walk out but I know that would backfire on me and I’m not one for instability. While I do not have a spouse I can definitely understand how helpful this advice is to those that do 🙂
Hi Sarah! I admit, it is super liberating to quit a job on the spot because you know you deserve better. But it can be incredibly difficult without a plan for how you’ll pay your bills.