Quit Your Job to Start a Business? 6 Must-Do Mindset Shifts - Christine Kane

We love the storyline that goes like this: When you have your own business, you can:

√ Live in your pj’s.

√ Go to the gym whenever you want.

√ Take random afternoon hikes with your dog.

√ Run errands while the rest of the world is at work.

This is the fun part, right?  It’s freedom!


And…I’ll let you in on a secret that me and my Uplevel coaches are passionately serious about: (Yes, we’ve helped hundreds ditch the cubicle.)

The true test of whether or not you’ll succeed at running a business is not how much you crave freedom.  That’s a given.

The true test of entrepreneurial success is your mindset.  With freedom comes responsibility.  So when you leave your job, you must make internal changes.

Here are the 6 mindset shifts our clients have found to be the game-changers of becoming full time entrepreneurs…

Mindset #1 – You must be the C.E.O. of Y.O.U.

When you were an employee, you had a boss who did all the boss-ish things bosses do.

Now that you’re the boss, you’re discovering what those things were. You’re now the one to create the strategy.  You’re the one to set the schedule. You’re the one to manage this unmanageable thing called YOU. (I devote an entire module to this in my Uplevel Your Business Program. It’s a big deal.)

This might sound like “duh,” but it might be the hardest part of the entrepreneurial journey, especially when you realize you’re the worst boss you ever had.

Mindset #2 – Deadlines and accountability.

When you were an employee, you had nice tidy timelines, milestones, deadlines and meetings. You even had a manager to keep you on track.

Now, it’s just you. And your millions of ideas. And The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel just a click away.

Learn to manage yourself. Set clear deadlines and get accountability with a coach or a mastermind or even an online membership.

Mindset #3 – The internal impact of external appearance.

When you were an employee, you had to, you know, not wear pajamas to work.

And yes, I know. Your yoga pants rock.

But the thing is, it’s possible to take this too far.

Dilbert - Clothing optional

There’s a psychology to looking the part.  This doesn’t mean Spanx and pantyhose. But you may wake up one day and look in the mirror at your cat-hair covered yoga pants, unwashed hair and fuzzy slippers and wonder if, just maybe, the way you are treating yourself could be having an impact on how your business treats you.

Mindset #4 – “Smart” is not enough.

My client Robyn is brilliant, with an ivy-league degree (several) to prove it. She left a six-figure salary at a prestigious corporation to start her own business doing the same consulting she did in corporate.

When she came to Uplevel last fall, she’d completely log-jammed. She was embarrassed, and she was secretly questioning everything…especially herself.

What went wrong?

Robyn had to market herself. (Yes, even as an introvert.)

I taught her that having the skillset, the service, and the smarts is only ONE part of having a business.  Marketing is the other part.

Step-by-step, we showed Robyn a few totally doable marketing systems:  How to identify your ideal client. How to own the value you deliver. Knowing the specific results you offer.  AND – being able to communicate that clearly in all of your materials. And how to do this CONSISTENTLY.

Did it work?

Well, Robyn had no clients when she started in Uplevel Academy last October. Three months into this year, she is 80% of the way to her revenue goal for the whole year. She decided to set a bigger annual goal – and it’s still first quarter!

(Oh yeah. Keep an eye on your inbox next week. I’m doing a free training to teach these very strategies.)

Mindset #5 – Letters mean little.

When you were an employee, your email signature contained an array of letters after your name. All your degrees, certifications, and validation of your title, role and position.

Now that you’re a business owner, no one cares. They care about themselves. They care about the results they get from working with you.  And this is what must be communicated in your marketing.

If you’re in love with all your letters, by all means use them.  But now that you have a business, you need to learn how to communicate your value in other ways. This is hard. It requires that you dig deep and move beyond a convenient string of letters no one understands.

Mindset #6 – The Investing Mentality.

At your job, you may have said things like, “I’ll go to that event when the company pays for it.”

Being a business owner means you have to drop the mindset of “spending” money and own the mindset of “investing in your results.”  This means recognizing that you ARE the company that pays for it. And you must invest in your learning and growth, because you are its biggest asset.

Employees rarely have to make this kind of hard decision. Someone else usually makes it for them. You are now that “someone else.” Discover the power of investing in you.


Okay, peeps, help someone out! What’s been your biggest mindset shift moving from employee to business owner?

  • Terry

    Hi to you,

    In one of your LinkedIn posts few days ago, you mentioned: Don’t Wait…and you went on to detail them:

    Don’t wait for permission , perfection, certainty, for discovery… where can I find the article blog with the rest of ‘ don’t wait for’ ??

    Many thanks.

    • Christine Kane

      Hi Terry – I teach this at my retreats. I call it the 8 Waits. And they are permission, perfection, certainty, discovery, rescue, passion, purpose and signs. I don’t know if there’s a blog post about that. I started with only 5 when i was first seeing this pattern in clients – but added three more to turn it into the 8 waits. 🙂

  • Saundra

    I haven’t quit my job yet, because my company cannot sustain me. My biggest shift is confidence and marketing are my biggest areas. I have no problem negotiating a salary with a company, but I have a difficult time with charging my clients market rates. Also, I am challenged when it come to marketing. I’m still working that out. I often times look for someone to cheer me on with good job, or you can do it. In this world of self employment you have to do that for yourself.

  • Kelly Nice

    Great reminders of what it takes to get our freedom and to sustain it! I haven’t made it out of the cube farm yet, but step by step I’m working toward it.

  • Lucy Creegan

    Hi Christine,
    I haven’t been employed for 19 years by anyone else. I’v been working for myself part-time for the past 4 years. I chose to be a stay at home mum with my 4 kids but went back part time with full flexibility 4 years ago. So no big transitional changes really, apart from the major one in investing in myself and holding myself accountable for my progress and actions. That’s still a heck of a journey but so worth it. And the role-modelling to my boys of 19 and 18 and girls of 16 and 12 is amazing.

  • Mags Mc monagle

    Staying motivated and fighting the urge to give up… is the hardest .

  • Patrizia Brandellero

    I really laughed out loud reading this… in my pyjamas! This is probably the biggest mindset shift I still need to operate. It is not because I am no longer employed in a golden cage that I am nobody, and that I don’t deserve to treat myself well, that I am worth less, or even worthless. Thanks for these inspiring blogs. Particularly this one, I realise that my experience leaving a full time job to freelance is probably my biggest gift to the world, how can I market myself with that experience? Hmmm… thanks and looking forward to the training.

  • Linda Lee

    Thank you immensely for this information. I have quit my job before a couple of times to go into business. I fell into almost every one of the examples on your list. Now I think in the next six months I’ll be ready again. I want my coaching business to really take off. My husband and I had workshop yesterday that really went well. I also realize I need your training program as well.

    Linda K. Lee
    Atanta, Georgia

  • Myra Oney

    Self management was key in the beginning. Realizing that I had to set a regular work schedule, calendar block so things got done, eat regular healthy meals, keep my office neat and organized and, oh yes, shower and put on real clothes (clean jeans and a sweater) before I arrived at my desk. Basic stuff, but gets you into the right mindset. Basic, but necessary to create the right vibe. Now it’s the next level and taking on scary things like networking and really focusing on growing my list. I have classes and workshops scheduled and people are coming, a definite win.

  • Chelsia Berry

    Depression, anxiety, inconsistency are my biggest problems. Then once I get started again, I’m run over by fear and procrastination.

    • Christine Kane

      Chelsia – I relate and feel deep compassion. You might be surprised to learn how many entrepreneurs struggle with these behind the scenes. For me, it’s always about setting the bars low, using timers to celebrate completions (as opposed to requiring the perfect outcome — I celebrate showing up instead) – and I make sure I eat and exercise so that I’m setting up my body and well-being to support my creative work. Otherwise, those mindsets you’re describing can really run the show. Is there one small gesture or habit you can set up just this week to support you?

  • Mary Duggan

    I loved my job, and it wasn’t my decision to leave it. That said, it was what I needed. An insight that really crystallised at our M-Club retreat this week was that it did not call me to be my higher self. The journey of creating a business from nothing, gradually getting clarity on what I can offer and finding my ideal clients is not easy and certainly not a straight trajectory. But oh, it is so rewarding. And I could not have made this journey alone. Thank you for all your help, support and ass-kicking!

  • Brenda Rose

    The biggest shift for me was learning to trust God and believe in myself enough to go out and make it happen. 10 years later He still provides for me every month and has helped me to grow in ways that I never imagined.

  • Bongiwe Mncube

    I’m still employed but having my side hustles. Learning from you Christine, I’ve become a Vision Board Master in South Africa. I applied the expert status and there is power in there. I get invited by women’s clubs, youth organizations etc. That has led to my business hosting monthly events as as Vision Board Master.
    Thank you to you. I love your teachings you are so empowering.

    • Christine Kane

      That’s really cool Bongiwe! What a great thing you are doing! Thanks for sharing – 🙂

  • Florinah

    Eye opening indeed. Being your own boss certainly moves you out of your comfort zone. One needs to rebrand and mind makeover is vital. It is not only dressing the part but also thinking the part to ensure success of one’s own business.

    • Christine Kane

      Florinah – you’re right! And I’ve discovered that the “thinking the part” piece continues to evolve as you Uplevel. The work continues!

  • Lotte

    For the time being, managing me in an efficient way seems to be the hardest 🙂 . Marketing oneself, communicating clear the provided value added seem also very challenging, you are right. All the 6 things you identified are so true. I just can’t wait to see your free training :-).
    Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Christine Kane

      Lotte – The great thing is to first understand THAT this stuff is challenging and that we’re not naturally wired to know this! Then you can make plans accordingly. Not everyone is a hardcore driver type – and as such, we just need a bit of self-management!

  • Michelle

    Okay, this was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you for always being “witchy” that way. 😉

  • Laura Rothenburg

    Thank you Cristine for this post
    I have to admit I am a technology refused saying that what I mean is my forte is not on the technology side, by being in my own business I have learnt so many things as being a one man band has been hard but also exhilarating. Keeping myself motivated to achieve all the business requires is not the problem but and I say but ‘THE MARKETING’ now that’s an enormous task, one I would like someone else to take care of. However, winning clients to take my classes has not been easy and a website yet to be finished is another matter.
    So this summer I am setting up a kids summer camp in the creative arts but have recruited some teachers into help which gives a sense of a team. This is what I miss most when I was working. The team work, working to an ultimate goal. So really for me I would like to build a permanent team very soon. The other thing is being self relient on creating the cashflow and keeping the big picture as the goal, visualisation is great and sheer determination is my path.

  • Robin Barr

    Love this, CK!! You “hit the nail on the head”, as always 😊

  • Amy Kay Watson

    Being an employee is such a great place to hide out away from the inner critic. If I felt unsafe, I could just pull back into my office, close the door, and futz around with a spreadsheet or a word document. Safe, safe, safe!

    Damn, I miss that some days.

    Now when I feel unsafe, I have to confront myself. I have to do my work. I have to sit down with my inner critic and hear her out, engage her in conversation, thank her for her input and then send her on a coffee break while I listen to other parts of myself for awhile. I have to be intentional about giving voice to those other parts so I won’t crumble in on myself. If I don’t take the time and do that work, my list of projects and tasks becomes a treacherous forest that I’ll do ANYTHING to avoid.

    Doing the work means I’m continually growing. Having a job meant I could let that slide for a few days, weeks, months, and even years.

  • Lucie Bland

    A lot of the content in this blog post resonated with me on different levels. First, I’m doing a lot of work to change my money mindset to invest in myself and my future results. I’m an Enneagram 1, have been a student for 7 years and then worked in the field of wildlife conservation, so spent years being a tight ass. Now I am changing my mindset by investing in my learning through UpLevel Cafe and using my business to fuel my career retraining, as my current employer does not do professional development. I also really enjoyed the piece about marketing being a service. I love serving people and I’m excited to connect with them over my offers, so that mindset makes marketing feels less sleazy.

  • Nicole Clark. LMSW

    This post is right on time! I’m resigning from my job on 5/31/16, and while I’m completely excited, #6 resonated with me the most. I definitely need to get review the systems I currently have in place to make sure they will truly work for me (I started my business over a year ago while working full-time.) I’m also working on really using my authentic voice to have a better connection with potential clients. I believe as I became busier with my 9-5, I was so drained that I did the bare minimum when marketing my services. I really need to have a heart-to-heart with my business. Thanks for writing this, Christine!

  • Patrice A Federspiel

    For me, working ON the business rather than IN the business is still the hardest part. It’s so much easier to work in the business, and when I’m feeling low or worn out, at least I know I’m getting something done. BUT it would be so much better if I took better care of myself and didn’t get “worn out” so I could work ON the business to improve my future.

    So perhaps, self-care is really the hardest part for me. Making the time to take better care of the “goose that lays the golden egg”.

    Thanks Christine for another great nudge foreward!
    Aloha, Patrice

  • Julie

    For me, there have been two major transformations. The first was being disciplined again. My company culture was not one of high performance, big ideas or accelerated decisions. I purposely dulled down my intellect, my pace and my passion to fit in. I didn’t realize just how much until I was on my own in business. Quite frankly, I had gotten lazy from spending seven years in an environment where I couldn’t exercise my energy. I needed to reignite my drive and passion. It took about six months, but now I’m back to my old self, cranking out really create work really quickly, accelerating my actions and decisions, and being disciplined with my time and energy – to include getting up early again and accomplishing more than I have in years.

    The second was getting back to the true me. That meant reconnecting with who I really am and shedding the persona of who I needed to be to fit in at the company. I’ve learned that I’m a chameleon who’s damn good at morphing myself to fit the situation or what I believe people want to see in me. I’m really good at persuading and convincing others with my communication. So good that they believe they know who I am and what I stand for. But I’m just playing the part or the devil’s advocate.

    Reconnecting with what I stand for, how I roll and speaking in my authentic voice has been the biggest growth opportunity by far. I realize that it’s important to be intentional and deliberate with my words, that they define me. And being me in the world is exactly who I need to be, in my life and business.

  • Lynne Watts

    Hardest thing hands down was learning to network and market in a personal way. I was great at sending out email blasts about my newest offering but learning to personalize it and offer my coaching to people in a way that resonated with them personally while developing a relationship has been the biggest eye opener. Great post!

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Lynne! And yes, being fully IN (and really – you could say “intimate”) in your marketing is a huge part of success – and it’s so scary at first. But hey – look at you now, baby! 🙂