If you dream of being your own boss and are still working in a full-time career, this blog post and podcast episode are for you! 

This episode was inspired by two of our Master Shopkeepers members, Kate and Kristin. They’re both working in full-time careers and are store owners. They recently asked me a series of questions about how I took the leap from full-time, steady-paycheck-employee to going all-in on entrepreneurship. 

Let’s dive into their questions.

How Did You “Do It All?”

I have to give credit to my sister and business partner. If she didn’t have the flexibility she had or the willingness to be there when I couldn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are with The Salvaged Boutique. Aside from that, I honestly don’t know HOW I did it. I did it by having absolutely no life (or very little). 

I was working SO many hours trying to open the store with my sister, to the point of exhaustion. What propelled me, though, was that I was excited about it.

My husband didn’t come into my life until after we opened the store. While he has seen most of my shopkeeping journey, he wasn’t there for all of it. Once we started to form our little family—me, my husband, and my bonus son, Logan—they ultimately lost the most. I was lucky that my husband did so much to support my dream. 

What Were Some Lessons You Learned?

I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned on this journey. One of the big lessons I learned was that I could hustle when needed. And while I don’t think the hustle mentality fits everywhere all of the time, it does serve a purpose when you’re opening a business.

I learned that I have some amazing people in my life. 

I learned that the urge to become a full-time entrepreneur was never going away—no matter how much I suppressed it. After 20 years of pushing away the idea that I could be an entrepreneur, I’m so glad I finally listened to myself. 

What Would You Do Differently?

I genuinely feel that the path I took is the path I was meant to take. If I had to do anything differently, though, it would be to work on my mindset a long time ago! The tools I’ve been given through the past three years of coaching would have been so helpful earlier in life.

While in my career, I listened to many podcasts on mindset, particularly focused on intuition. But I didn’t know what to do next. 

I remember thinking I wasn’t ready to fully commit to what they were teaching on these podcasts. And I felt a lot of resistance and fear from my brain, so eventually, I stopped listening. 

If I had shifted my thoughts—meaning if I had broken myself free from all that programmed thinking—who knows how far I’d be on this journey? But I don’t like to live in “what ifs.” Instead, I can accept the way it all played out. I hope that sharing my experience will help others get out of the vicious cycle in their thinking.

How Did You Manage Both Your Full-Time Career & Your Store?

As I mentioned earlier, I did it because I had so much help. Not just from my sister with the business but from my now-husband, too. Once we started dating, he helped tremendously with everything. He did all the dishes, the laundry, and the grocery shopping because I was just so busy.

My brother-in-law and my nephew (who now works for us) did so much labor to help us get the store open. Other friends and family members helped out, too. The only way I managed it all was because I had so much help.

In my former career, not only did my work shifts change constantly, but I would spend entire days at work and then do MORE work. There were grueling 14-18 hour days. When I ask myself, “how the heck did I do that?!” I think the answer is just lots and lots of black coffee. 

How Did You Manage Family Life on Top of Everything?

About two years into shopkeeping, my bonus son Logan came into my life. He is, hands down, one of my biggest blessings. 

I realized that if I chose to work another six years to full retirement in my original career, I would miss out on so much of his life. I knew something had to change, and Logan was a big part of my decision-making process. 

Five years later, I’m so grateful. I would have missed spending quality time with him driving back and forth to his activities, tucking him into bed, and the incredible conversations I’ve had with him. I would have missed sporting events, vacations, and special moments. 

At the beginning of my shopkeeping journey, I didn’t manage things well. I was awful at planning and even worse at time management. And because of my work priorities, everything was out of whack! 

I remember going on our first vacation with my husband’s family. We were in a beautiful home by a lake…and all I could do was sleep. I was so exhausted and tired of dealing with people that I couldn’t participate. 

Looking back on it, I was a shell of who I am. Thankfully, I’m much better at managing my time at work and family life now.

When Did You Realize You Could Quit Your First Career? What Did It Take Financially?

Even if I didn’t realize it at the time, I spent years working toward entrepreneurship. After opening the store with my sister Karen, I got a taste of what could be—and kept working towards it. 

I knew that I had to rely on ME if I wanted to spread my wings and be my own boss. I had no cushion and no one to rescue me financially. So I started paying off debt and building a nest egg.

By the time I left my career, I had no credit card debt, no loans, and no car payments. I had built up a savings account that I could lean on for 12-18 months. Getting to that point was difficult, and it took years. 

And I did that while bootstrapping two small businesses. The Salvaged Boutique and Savvy Shopkeeper have always been profitable and paid me, in some way, since day one. Bootstrapping meant no investors, loans, or debt to build the businesses—everything was done in cash. 

I was focused on building profitable businesses because I NEEDED them to be profitable. I wasn’t going to leave a full-time career with great benefits and a steady paycheck for entrepreneurship without that profitability in place. That was a big driving force for me. 

While I was doing all of this, my now-husband was preparing for an eventual change in his career. After years of wavering and saying, “Am I going to leave? Am I going to stay? I can’t leave. I can’t possibly do that. I can’t afford that,” I drove him crazy with my indecision. Finally, he gave me some much-needed tough love.

His tough love, paired with the encouragement and support from my Mamita (my Mom), my sister, other family members, and some really good friends, helped me finally take the leap. 

It All Comes Back to Your Numbers and Your Mindset

Understanding your business and numbers is SO important if you’re considering full-time shopkeeping. 

What is your business generating in revenue and profit? What will or could your business generate if you were full-time? Would that amount support your pay needs?

Christie, a member of Master Shopkeepers, recommended the book Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff. She said that this book “has a lot of good key points and metrics. I believe they use 60% as the amount of current day job income your dream job should be making before jumping into it full-time. They also talk about having a fully-funded emergency fund first.”

I don’t think I was at 60%, if I’m completely honest. But I knew that my expenses were at the bare minimum. I had enough confidence in myself that I KNEW I could increase the revenue in both businesses to pay myself what I needed at the time.

One of my most popular free resources is the Sales to Salary Calculator. If you want to replace your income from work or have a break-even goal, this tool will help you understand what your business needs to generate so you can pay yourself that number. 

Between mindset issues and financial fear, it took me decades to build up my courage and 3-5 years to build the financial runway I needed. I now know that it doesn’t need to take anyone that long! 

I jumped and took a leap of faith. Faith in my brain that I could do it, I would be okay, and that I had some incredible people around me to cheer me on. Luckily, improving my mindset even more came later. And I pat myself on the back every day for doing the work. 

If you are feeling the pull to be a full-time entrepreneur, I get it! For me, the financial runway was front and center because my mindset wasn’t there yet. The financial cushion was what I needed to give me forward momentum.

Resources

Timestamps

  • [04:21] How Did You “Do It All?”
  • [06:01] What Were Some Lessons You Learned?
  • [07:54] What Would You Do Differently?
  • [10:26] How Did You Manage Both Your Full-Time Career & Your Store?
  • [12:13] How Did You Manage Family Life on Top of Everything?
  • [16:20] When Did You Realize You Could Quit Your First Career? What Did It Take Financially?
  • [20:04] It All Comes Back to Your Numbers and Your Mindset

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