Sarah Klongerbo and Cassandra Ruppert lifting their arms in the air in Spain

Why I Quit My Job (During a Pandemic) to Start a Business

Sarah Klongerbo and Cassandra Ruppert lifting their arms in the air in Spain

I quit my job.

During a pandemic. 

While my husband is still taking a below-average salary as he builds his own business.

Am I crazy? 🤪

Probably . . . but I’ve also thought this through more than you’d think. 

Let me walk you through that thought process — and why I believe I’ll be not only okay, but even, dare I say, better off.

Why I Quit My Full-Time Job

It’s not that I didn’t like my former employer.

Quite the contrary. My boss was empathetic, my coworkers were fun, and I was given plenty of opportunities to grow.

So why quit?

I had a creative itch I needed to scratch.

That’s the best way I can describe it. 

Vague, I know. Idealistic, certainly.

But if you’ve ever felt that sense of unsettledness, that spark of intrigue, that persistent curiosity of “What else is out there? Am I really pursuing my passion(s)? How can I use my talents and skills to truly make a difference in this world?” … then you know what I’m talking about.

Before I accepted a full-time job at the digital marketing agency where I worked for the last six years, I served as a freelance writer and editor alongside my two part-time jobs at a clothing boutique and a visual arts center.

There was something charming about that life. Fresh out of college, living in a downtown loft with my best friend, dating a new guy (now my husband)… I was, at the time, well suited for the spontaneous. 

But I knew it couldn’t last forever. As Troy and I approached marriage and all the responsibilities that being an adult presents, I sought something more stable.

I found that in my agency job. 

Initially hired as a creative content strategist, I became the agency’s internal content editor and then our marketing manager, all while continuing to create deliverables for our (mostly automotive) clients.

I was treated well. I was content.

But always, in the back of my mind, was that little creative itch, like a tag you forgot to take off.

I knew I could attempt to fulfill my creative desires “on the side.” I often set personal goals for myself to start blogging again, or submit a piece to a literary magazine. But I wasn’t disciplined enough to make my creative writing a habit. 

I already spent all day on my laptop. The last thing I felt like doing after dinner was open it back up.

Then, a few years ago, I got a wild idea.

What if I started designing websites?

After all, I now had a background in both copywriting and digital marketing. Website design was something that was different enough from my daily work but related enough to make sense as a part-time pursuit. 

And it was creative, in a way my current client work simply wasn’t. 

So when my husband, founder of Fisheye Marketing, mentioned he had a lead looking for a basic website (which Fisheye doesn’t offer as a service), I tentatively raised my hand.

Fast-forward a couple years, and I have now designed several websites for clients in various industries. And I’ve loved it. 

I get to blend my writing and design skills with my desire to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives. I get to work independently on projects I enjoy while also working one on one with clients whose businesses I’m helping to grow.

It’s pretty rewarding.

My mental bandwidth can handle only so much, though. On top of my (at least) 40-hour workload at the agency, I could typically work on just one or two side projects before getting burned out from staring at my screen. 

Yet I found myself drawn more magnetically to these new endeavors — not just because they fed my creative hunger, but also because they felt more purposeful. I was able to see how my services could literally serve others, how my work could bloom into something bigger and more beautiful than I’d dreamed. 

So, after much deliberation, prayer, planning, and pillow talks with my husband, I eventually decided to take the leap into full-time freelancing. 

Here we go. 😅

“And then the day came, / when the risk / to remain tight / in a bud / was more painful / than the risk / it took / to Blossom.”

– Anaïs Nin, “Risk”

Why I Believe Everything Will Be Just Fine

“How were you even able to take that leap?” you may be asking.

Two words, my friends: safety net.

Contrary to how it may appear, I didn’t completely throw caution to the wind. My safety-seeking husband has made sure of that. 😉

Here are just a few of the ways we’ve prepared for my career transition:

  • We saved all the money I’d made from my web design projects. This additional income hadn’t been built into our household budget, so we squirreled it away in a separate account. Now, I have a little pot to dip into if I need to buy business supplies or if I have a slow sales month.
  • I got a part-time job. Starting in 2021, I am working about half-time for Till Agency, a company specializing in social ads for creative businesses. This position not only provides an extra cushion for our budget, but also allows me to flex my copywriting muscles and maintain a connection with a team of fellow creatives.
  • My husband’s business is growing. No, he’s still not making the salary he deserves, but the days when I get to claim being the breadwinner may be numbered. Troy couldn’t have started Fisheye without my steady income; now, I wouldn’t start my new venture without his.
  • We’ve been (mostly) responsible with our finances. Our money management could always improve (just ask us after we’ve returned from a trip 😬), but Troy and I do take an intentional approach to our finances. We save, we invest, we give, we pay off debt. These practices — and blessings from our families — have put us in the rare position to be able to take a risk like this. And we don’t take it for granted.
  • We prayed about it. A lot. As followers of Christ, we believe in the power of prayer. Not that God is going to pour blessing upon us no matter what (that’s not the gospel!) — but he will grant peace to those who ask for it. So we asked for it, fervently and frequently . . . and we got it. 

“What is the Christian understanding of work?. . . [It] is that work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties . . . the medium in which he offers himself to God.”

– Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor

Why I’m Writing About It Now

I can hear the objections, folks.

“What makes you so sure this is going to work?” 

I’m not. I don’t know whether I’ll book enough clients or make enough money to support the lifestyle / family / generosity we want to achieve.

But I do know that the Lord has a plan for me, that he’s blessed me with unique gifts and passions that are meant to be used for my good and for his glory. 

As an Enneagram Four, I need to know my work is both artful and meaningful. This career move is just another step of faith toward that desire for significance. 

As my former boss said, graciously, about my decision to leave, and about her own decision to leave her former job: “If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it.”

#NoRagrets, man.

“Isn’t it a little presumptuous to say all this before you’ve actually proven yourself as a business owner?”

Yep. Trust me, I do not think I have this whole thing figured out! 

I simply want to be vulnerable and brave, as my girl Brené Brown would have it. I want to be honest about the wins and the losses — while they’re happening, not years after. 

I want to have a real-time account of launching a business, not only for my own records, but also for anyone else who is considering or is currently taking a risk of their own. 

I hope this blog can be a place of encouragement, inspiration, and education as we learn together how to build our businesses.

“Why should I care?”

You don’t have to! Go ahead and click that little X in the corner; I won’t be offended. (Well, the Enneagram Four in me probably would be, but if you do it quietly, I won’t have to know.) 😉

I’m just putting this content out there for anyone who might happen to care. (Hey, Dad.)

Look, I’m not saying everyone can, let alone should, take a risk like this. I recognize I have a special opportunity here. 

But that’s exactly why I feel the need to seize it.

And while quitting your full-time job during a pandemic is definitely extreme, there are other ways to work within your passions, to live creatively, whatever career you’re in.

This blog is an attempt to uncover those ways, those shiny gems of creativity and purpose hiding just beneath the surface — those “strange jewels,” as Elizabeth Gilbert calls them, “within us all.”

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to discover those jewels — that’s creative living.”

– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Follow Along My Journey!

If you do happen to care about this new-business roller coaster I’ve just boarded, well, come join the ride!

There’s plenty of room. 🎢

Join my email list for updates of my journey to becoming a business owner (gulp) — plus useful insights related to writing, web design, and digital marketing for creatives.

I’m not one for fluff, so I promise to send only the info I believe is actually substantial.

See you in the inbox, or back here on the blog!

Why I Quit My Job (During a Pandemic) to Start a Business

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