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Why it's Not a Good Idea to Quit Your Day Job Just Yetby@scottdclary
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Why it's Not a Good Idea to Quit Your Day Job Just Yet

by Scott D. ClarySeptember 28th, 2022
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Fiona Smith is a self-proclaimed money expert and the Millennial Money Woman behind the popular blog of the same name. She quit her corporate job at the height of the pandemic in 2020 to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. Starting a business is no easy feat. It's hard work, long hours, and often requires making some tough decisions along the way. Here, if you're thinking about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, I've rounded up some tips and tricks from her interview that I found super helpful.

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Since all hell broke loose back in 2020, I've discovered my new favorite topic – people and businesses who made it big while everything else was falling to pieces. You've probably noticed the way I gravitate toward those topics in my newsletter. It's just so inspiring to hear from people who take a risk and go all-in on their business idea, even when it's terrifying to do so.

There's a certain pink-haired blogger I had the pleasure of interviewing last year who started her business from scratch. Fiona Smith, founder of the Millennial Money Woman blog, chose the height of the pandemic to finally pursue her entrepreneurial dreams – and her success has been nothing short of astonishing.

But even Fiona will tell you that starting a business is no easy feat. It's hard work, long hours, and often requires making some tough decisions along the way. So, if you're thinking about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, I've rounded up some tips and tricks from her interview that I found super helpful.

Ready? Let's dive in. (And yes, the title will make sense soon!)

Fiona Smith's Foray Into Entrepreneurship

Fiona Smith is a self-proclaimed money expert and the Millennial Money Woman behind the popular blog of the same name. She takes a down-to-earth approach to finance topics, making money know-how accessible to everyone – not just the MBAs.

Her beginnings were humble, though. It was a family catastrophe at ten years of age that gave her the desire and drive to be self-sufficient; her grandparents lost all of their hard-earned money due to poor financial planning, and ended up working through their retirement years as a result.

“As a young child, when you see something like that happening, it will definitely have an impact on you," Fiona explained. "Some people might shy away; others might be curious and want to explore, why did this actually happen? And how can you prevent that? And I was that person.”

Fast-forward ten years. Fiona had graduated to begin her career in finance, and she was climbing the corporate ladder, desperately in need of respite. 

“I did have a job in corporate America. I worked there for probably 12, 15 hours a day. Worked on weekends, too. It was cutthroat, and it was in finance," Fiona lamented. 

Every day, I am so grateful to be far away from the dreaded corporate ladder. It was confronting to hear about the number of thankless hours she'd put in – and for what?

“I think the media likes to portray that when you work really hard, for really long hours, you're rewarded with a lot of money. And I don't think that was really necessarily the case, especially for me, because you feel like your freedom is taken away. Especially for young millennials, freedom is something that we want.”

The Tipping Point

Like many corporate employees, Fiona reached a point where enough was enough. The pressure pot was fit to burst. All work and no play was finally more than she could handle (and fair enough, too). 

Having heard about blogging through her corporate job, Fiona had begun to think about how she could apply her expertise to something other than her soul-sucking day job. She started toying with the idea of starting her own blog as a way to share her knowledge and help people avoid making the same money mistakes she'd seen her grandparents make.

“In May of 2020, that's when I pulled the trigger and I started the blog. I worked probably over 120 hours a week – it was ridiculous. It still is ridiculous. But it is absolutely my passion. I love every second, and I really see that it's making a positive impact.”

And that was it; the end of her first career, and the beginning of something truly incredible. Here's how things escalated:

  • Fiona started the Millennial Money Woman blog and began writing articles about personal finance topics like budgeting, investing, and debt repayment. 
  • She quickly amassed a following of engaged readers who were interested in her refreshingly relatable take on money matters. 
  • Fiona expanded onto other platforms; her Twitter blew up, her following grew by over 1000%, and her other platforms soon followed suit. 
  • Celebrities and personalities began recognizing her work, which only amplified her message and reach. 
  • Fiona was able to monetize her platform and quit her day job to become a full-time blogger and financial educator.

In 2022, Fiona's brand has grown to the point where she was asked to be a regular contributor for Forbes. She’s also been featured in Forbes, Invezz, Oberlo, Budgets are Sexy, and a variety of other financial publications and outlets. 

Her website, themillennialmoneywoman.com, was listed as a Top 50 Personal Finance Blog and is currently one of the One of the fastest growing personal finance blogs globally.

Pretty cool, right? I could tell from my chat with Fiona that she's one of the most hard-working, passionate, and driven people I've ever had the pleasure of speaking with. She didn't have this much success because it's easy – she put in the graft and made things happen. 

Fiona's Tips to Entrepreneurial Success

If you're going to take tips from anyone, take it from the people who start with nothing and build something incredible. Here are some of the best wisdom nuggets I pulled from our interview. Enjoy!

Don't Quit Your Day Job (Yet)

See? I told you it'd make sense. 

But seriously – how often do you hear these unbelievably glamorized stories where people quit their jobs on a total whim, impulsivity at its finest, and end up becoming wildly successful? It happens, but it's not the norm. And Fiona doesn't think it should be, either.

“If anyone has the vision to start a company, first do your industry research. The worst thing that can happen is you end up quitting your job, and then figure out it's actually not what you like to do.”

When Fiona first planned to start her blog, she didn't just impulsively quit her job (although I'm sure the temptation was there). She took a step back and thought about what her vision would look like, and how she would feel about it post-realization. 

“I did my industry research first, while I was still working in corporate America. I decided, yes, this is what I want to do, then I quit and poured 110% effort into this blog.”

You don't have to stay at your current job until your startup reaches round C of funding, but you also don't have to be so hasty that you jump ship before you're even sure if it'll float. Do your research, make a plan, and give yourself some time to build up a solid foundation before making any drastic decisions. 

“Shadow a couple of industry experts on their day-to-day job; see if that's something that you truly enjoy doing." From there, you'll know if it's something you want to pursue as a full-time career. 

Switch Your Money Perspective

There's no doubt that the first few months and years of entrepreneurship are a hard slog financially. I won't sugarcoat it. It's not just the bootstrappers who go through this, either – even people with generous funding have to be mindful of their cash flow.

But here's the thing: you need to change your perspective. Rather than comparing your yearly income figure now to the income you had as an employee, look at your growth. 

“Has my revenue from the blog actually matched, equaled, or exceeded what I earned in corporate America? The answer is no. It has not," Fiona told me. "However, as an entrepreneur, I think we're able to see very early on in terms of whether there is growth potential. And the answer – at least for my situation – is absolutely 100% yes.”

See how that instantly reframes the situation? In corporate, Fiona was earning more. But the growth was stagnant. On her blog, she was growing so much it felt hard to keep up sometimes. 

“I was definitely not earning at all what I was earning in my corporate job. But it increased by 600% within just one month, and it increased again by another 200%.”

Now, it isn't a case of throwing caution to the wind. You'll still need to be mindful of your spending and make sure you're not overindulging, as Fiona pointed out. 

“I have an emergency savings fund, which I'm certainly using here and there. And I recommend it for viewers who are considering transitioning over into their own business.”

Tap Into Growth Mindset

I've talked about Dr Dweck's work on fixed vs growth mentality in plenty of my newsletters by now, so I was thrilled to hear Fiona say that part of her success has come from adopting a growth mindset herself. 

“It's the mindset that separates the successful from the unsuccessful. Growth mindset is for someone who does not believe their talents are fixed; they can improve. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, is someone who believes that putting in hard work is actually a weakness, because it means you don't have the natural talent to become successful.”

This is by far one of the most pivotal changes we entrepreneurs can make to our mindset. If you're not used to it, it can feel like you're faking it until you make it – but that's okay. You've got to continually remind yourself that any skill you don't already possess, you can learn. 

And when you're starting out, there are a *lot* of skills you don't yet have. Fiona says there are three main steps to adopting a growth mindset.

“I think just realizing that you have the choice of changing from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset is such a huge step. The next step is actually trying to read and learn more about what it takes to unlock all of those areas and keys to success."

“The third step is to actually start implementing little daily habits to enter into that growth mindset. So for example, I put little sticky notes on my bathroom mirror. So every morning, I'm reminded of some of the things I need to do and think in order to enter into that growth mindset.”

Have you got more of a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Let me know in the comments below.

Find Yourself a Mentor

Scream it from the rooftops – if you don't have a mentor, find one! 

Mentors are *invaluable* to entrepreneurs. They've been there, they know the ropes, they can help you avoid mistakes, and give you advice when you're feeling lost. This is one of the first things Fiona did in her entrepreneurial journey; I'd urge you to do the same. 

“Before even thinking about money at all, what worked well was finding a mentor. He taught me some of the basic steps that I would need to work and focus on in order to build a successful business down the road," Fiona shared.

Remember my newsletter that focused solely on the benefits of mentorship? I wish it didn't feel so buzzwordy to say so, but mentorship is your key to success. It really is. 

“Find a mentor who's willing to give you the time and help you jump ahead of the rest of the game. I personally think that mentors are the ultimate shortcut in life; they can give you so much advice, and help you save time, energy, and money.”

Challenge the Normal

And finally, my favorite tip of all – be brave enough to do things completely differently to common perceptions. 

I feel like this is an especially important thing to remember for entrepreneurs. We're constantly surrounded by this hustle culture that tries to prescribe us a one-size-fits-all answer to success, and it's just not true. You have to find what works for you; and that usually means doing things your own way. 

For example: think about the classic Silicon Valley invention, the kind of things you see walking into Shark Tank. They're usually some whacky gadget that makes you go 'huh, you just solved a problem by creating a new one.' Why do we assume that entrepreneurship is about squishing two things together and calling them an innovative new product? 

“You don't need to reinvent the wheel to become a successful entrepreneur," Fiona said. "You don't need to spend hundreds of thousands to create an actual brick and mortar store. You don't need that. You can do it right from home.”

Fiona's a testament to this, of course. She's also an avid realist who understands that while entrepreneurship has its incredible perks, it isn't some glamorous fairytale that lets you float through life on a cloud of rainbows and butterflies. 

“I thought entrepreneurship was 100% incredible and glamorous, because you have the freedom, and you get to be your own boss. And to some extent, I think it's true; but I always have to make sure to cater to my audience. So although I'm free, I'm not exactly free. There's a lot of work, many sleepless nights, and it's like you're married.”

I'll second that, Fiona!

Wrap Up

This was such a fun newsletter for me to write, because I feel like Fiona touched on so many points I feel strongly about. Put it this way: I'm not surprised at all that she's made it this far. With drive, intelligence, and ambition like that? She's going to make big waves.

Thanks for tuning into the newsletter once again, and don't forget to check out the podcast episode if you haven't already. (Hint: Fiona shared some of those money saving tips she's so famous for!) Until next time. 

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