9 things I wish I knew before quitting my job to focus full time on my side hustle

Business Insider US
Kisha Smith.
Kisha Smith
  • Kisha Smith, 41, is the founder of KKS Financial, a financial advising company in North Carolina in the US.
  • In February, she quit her job of 15 years to focus on growing KKS from a side hustle to a full-time career.
  • Here's 10 things she's learned since then, as told to Jessica Milicevic.
  • For more stories go to

I left my job as a supervisor at a transportation and logistics company in February 2021. After working there for 15 years, I was restless to start building a business of my own. For seven years, I'd been slowly growing my own financial advising company, and when leadership roles shifted and I was faced with conflicting management styles at my full-time job, I finally decided it was time to dedicate myself to my own company instead.

I knew I'd be facing some challenges, but there were 10 things I didn't realise and quickly learned when I quit my job without a plan.

1. I didn't expect to feel so happy

Don't get me wrong; I was comfortable at my old job, but over time, I became deeply unhappy. I was used to the regular paycheck and routine, but between changed leadership and a waning passion for the work, I knew it was time to leave. When I did, I felt incredible joy.

2. I didn't understand how much time and energy it would take to run a business

Despite doing financial services as a side hustle for seven years, I had to go back to square one. I hired three part-time employees, developed my own SOPs, and created a business plan. I realised that my success was dependent on me, and me alone.

3. I didn't realise how much I'd enjoy taking my side hustle to centre stage

Over the past seven years, I had to keep my day job and side hustle separate from each other. After quitting, I was able to completely dedicate myself to my small business. The more I worked on centering my business in my life, the more alive I felt.

4. I learned to go above and beyond for my clients

I had to learn how to network, be more creative, and manage my time. As I've grown into a business owner, I've realised that showing up for my business means educating my clients. I have to put myself in a vulnerable place and share with my clients my own financial struggles, so that I can educate them from an honest place.

5. I didn't know I'd need a team to help me excel

When I left my job, I realised I'd need a strong team to help take my business to the next level. I hired a marketing agency, I met with other financial advisors, and I leaned on mentors to help build my business.

I even got a therapist - two of them, in fact. Caring for my mental health helped me transform my mindset because I'd been conditioned for so long to feel comfortable in unhappiness.

6. I was shocked I didn't miss the regular paycheck

I took about two weeks off after I quit because once the anxiety lifted, I felt exhausted. When those two weeks were up and I didn't get my regular paycheck, it pushed me to put in the work and get things going for my business. Still, I didn't miss my old paycheck at all because I was finally focusing on work I enjoyed.

7. I never knew how much branding and social media marketing would matter

I kept telling myself, "You're going to have to get creative, Kisha!" At first, I didn't know how to building my business online, so I studied everything I could find on social media marketing and branding and leaned on my team to help.

8. I didn't realise how much change I could bring to my own community with my business

At KKS, I started working with people who needed help with personal finances. Meeting with adults who knew little about managing money, I decided to not just help them create a budget and savings, but also to teach them the how and why of finance. In doing so, I'm helping to break generational cycles of bad money mindsets.

9. I didn't know how much my confidence would improve

I was the only minority woman in a leadership role at my old job, and it was all consuming. From running my business full-time, I've learned to set healthy boundaries and know when it's time to take a step back, whether from a situation or a bad client.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.