Work-From-Home Solopreneur: How I Made The Leap As A Young Father

Right before the pandemic began, I did a fun podcast interview with Andy from Marriage Kids & Money, a work-from-home solopreneur. It was nice to connect with another father of two young children in the online world.

Andy took a leap of faith at a very similar age as me in 2012. Although my main goal for leaving finance wasn't to build Financial Samurai into a business, this site ultimately ended up generating supplemental income to help keep my wife and I away from work.

Now that I'm stuck at home, I've been spending more time understanding the online business world. It's truly fascinating to learn what some people are doing nowadays to make money online. Their websites are slick. Their marketing strategies are focused. And hopefully they are making good money as a result.

If you're considering becoming a work-from-home solopreneur, here's Andy's advice on how to make it happen.

You never know unless you try!

Becoming A Work-From-Home Solopreneur

Transitioning from full-time employee to a work-from-home solopreneur can be quite a big step for people to take. This is especially true as a young parent. Not only are we caring for our own financial and physical well-being but we’re also focused on protecting our spouse and children as well. 

Thoughts about this big decision had weighed on me for the past few years as I found a side hustle that I absolutely loved. I started a podcast and blog called Marriage, Kids and Money after a bad day at work in 2016 and treasured every minute I could spend working on it. 

At the same time, I was rapidly losing interest in my full-time career in corporate event marketing. I had been in the industry for over 15 years and felt I’d done a good job and climbed the ladder as much as I felt comfortable. It didn’t feel like there was much else I could do in my career or in the industry as a whole. 

One of the glaringly obvious issues with leaving my job was that I was only making $30,000 per year with my side hustle and $180,000 with my full-time career.

Further, that doesn’t include all of the incredible benefits my employer provided like healthcare, dental, paid vacation, 401k match, an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) and much more.  

So I had a choice to make … 

Work From Home Solopreneur: How I Made The Leap As A Young Father

Do I leave my cushy, well-paid, corporate job in hopes that I’m able to pay myself $180,000 in the future with my side hustle?

Or do I keep moving forward with my 9-5 career in corporate event marketing, keep pursuing financial independence and hopefully retire early?

After many discussions and encouragement from my wife, I chose to leave my career earlier this year. Here’s how I did it and what I’ve learned after 6 months as a solopreneur. 

The Steps I Took to Become a Solopreneur

1) Test your business as a side hustle first

It was important for me to know that I actually liked (nah, LOVED) my side hustle before jumping into it full-time as a solopreneur. This was something I was going to be doing with the majority of my work week going forward. 

With this in mind, I tested out my business as a side hustle for over 3 years before deciding it was right for me. This was 3 years of ups and downs, failures and successes and true moments of learning. 

I slowly but surely figured out how to take it from hobby in year 1 to side hustle in year 2 and 3. Those 36 months gave me a taste of what small business ownership really looks like. It was eye-opening and at the end of the day, I still wanted more. 

2) Wait until the kids are in school full-time

For the previous 7 years, my wife had been an awesome and dedicated stay-at-home mom. After our youngest child finished pre-school and headed off to kindergarten, my wife was ready to go back to work. As she explained it, she was just so ready to talk to adults again!

My wife and I loved the relationship that she had built with our kids. We didn’t want that to fade. So we decided it made sense for her to pursue a 30-hour per week job where she’d be able to pick up and drop the kids after school and not work late hours or evenings.

Through her previous experience and awesome network, she found a perfect gig that worked well for our family schedule. This helped our family by bringing in some good income to supplement my huge loss of income. 

3) Prepare financially for the Solopreneur leap

Outside of my wife’s new income, we wanted to make sure this solopreneur venture wasn’t going to put our family in jeopardy. That’s why we ended up saving over 12 months of expenses in a high yield savings account as a mega-emergency fund. This money in the bank gave us peace of mind knowing that if it took me a while to grow my income we’d be okay. 

Healthcare was another area we focused on to make sure we had the family protected. After researching plans and options provided through the Affordable Care Act, we realized we could get a plan similar to what I had through my employer. Because our family is in relatively good health and we have a larger emergency fund, we went with a high deductible plan to keep our monthly premiums lower. 

Last but not least, we focused on lowering our expenses in the years that preceded this solopreneur decision. One major way we did this was by paying off our mortgage in less than 5 years. By getting aggressive with our mortgage payoff process, we were able to lower our expenses and free up an extra $35,000 per year. 

Lessons After 6 Months as a Solopreneur

1) Owning a business is harder than being an employee

Now that I’m 6 months into this solopreneur venture, I’ve realized a few things. The first one is that when I was an employee, I did not realize the amount of benefits and perks I was provided. I definitely took them for granted.

The healthcare, dental and 401k plans are incredible. Now that I’m paying for these myself, I didn’t quite understand the monetary value as well as the emotional value of never having to worry about them. 

Outside of those benefits, there was also the advantage of having the following departments:

  • Accounts Receivable
  • Accounts Payable
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • HR
  • Accounting

Honestly, that list could go on and on. These are all roles that I now have to assume as a solopreneur. If a client doesn’t pay me on time (or at all), then I’m on the hook for hunting down that money. Or if I need to onboard a new freelance team member, that process is on me too. 

Below is a detailed analysis Sam put together on how much you need to make as a solopreneur to replace your day job income. It looks like you might need to make 60% more as a solopreneur to stay even due to all the benefits.

2) Outsourcing is important because you can’t do it all

I know I need to do all of the roles I listed above (and more), but I quickly realized that I couldn’t. Unless I wanted to work 80 hours per week and risk hating my “passion,” I needed to get help. 

One of the first areas I outsourced was accounting. Being a numbers guy, I figured I could handle this. Much to my surprise accounting was quite different from personal finance. Now that this task has been fully outsourced, I feel much happier knowing it's being handled correctly by a professional. 

The outsourcing continued from there! I hired writers, editors and even support for social media. The work quickly became a lot easier, but the profits became a lot more slim. 

Now, I’m working on finding a balance of outsourcing some of the work that I feel unequipped to handle and taking on the tasks I know I’m well-suited to manage. 

3) Pivoting is crucial in times of change

With the global pandemic and our current recession, I’ve had to adjust my business plan so many times during the last 6 months. What a year to start a business!

What worked well last year, doesn’t work as well this year. So as the economy is pivoting, I am as well. 

My in-person speaking engagements have transitioned to virtual financial wellness seminars. When revenue from site advertising dipped, I looked to my network for freelance opportunities to bring in additional income. 

I’m so thankful for that network I’ve been able to build as well. I truly believe your professional network is more important than your net worth. As a newbie small business owner, my network is the reason I’ve had any success whatsoever this year. 

Is Solopreneurship Worth It?

You might see these two lists of preparations and learnings and think, “Woah, that looks like a lot of work!” And to that, you’d be right. I’ve worked very hard to learn and grow so that my small business becomes a big success in the future. 

I don’t expect to be where I was with my former career salary-wise for at least another 5-10 years. After all, it took me 15 years to get there in the first place.

Even with our income set back over the past year, we were able to increase our net worth to over $1,000,000. This is an awesome milestone for our young family. I sure hope it lasts!

In truth, income is not my driving factor anymore. It’s more about the lifestyle that I’m creating. One that is focused on healthy living, family time and doing work that I love. 

I absolutely love every minute I get to work on my solopreneur venture. I don't want to go back as an employee any time soon.

Do I miss the benefits, perks and healthy paycheck? Absolutely!

Would I trade it for this new lifestyle I’m in the process of building? Nah. 

But who knows what tomorrow will bring? With this rapidly changing economy, I may need to pivot back to being an employee. And if I do go back, I’ll feel proud knowing that I gave it my best shot as a solopreneur. 

-Andy, Marriage, Kids & Money

Follow Up Questions For Andy

I hope you guys enjoyed Andy's guest post about being a work-from-home solopreneur. Going from making $180,000 down to $30,000 was a similar ~80% income decline I took in 2012. It's not easy to make such a move without a lot of planning and support!

I'm confident Andy will surpass his previous day job income if he commits to his business for 10 years in six years time. Working from home is definitely a permanent trend.

Here are some follow up questions I had for Andy. Feel free to ask any questions you have about the work-from-home solopreneur life as well in the comments.

How will you know when it's time to go back to work? 

No matter what, I don't think I'll ever return to corporate event marketing. I worked in the industry for 15 years and I thought I did a good job. I'd like to leave it at that. 

If my solopreneur business ends up being a flop, I suppose I'll look for a job in a new industry. I would start that search when our family emergency fund drops down to 3 months of expenses.

My dream of growing my online business isn't more important than my family's well-being. 

What is the hardest non-monetary adjustment you've had to make?

With the global pandemic, the hardest adjustment for me has been having my kids at home every day. My goals of working uninterrupted on my business during the day while my kids were at school were wiped away in March.

Having the kids at home and not a lot of places to go has been rough on our marriage too. My wife and I crave quality time together and we're not getting it lately. 

Any tips for solopreneurs for how to make more money/get more clients etc?

I recommend connecting with a network of people who are likeminded. These can be other folks in your industry or just people who are working on a similar path as you.

Doing this in the form of a weekly mastermind can help you stay accountable to your small business goals and it's also helpful to bounce things off of smart people when you don't have co-workers anymore.

Readers, are you considering becoming a work-from-home solopreneur? Please let us know in the comments below.

Start Your Own Website

Every business needs their own website. Here's a step-by-step tutorial showing you how. Not a day goes by where I'm not thankful for starting Financial Samurai in 2009. I ever would have imagined being able to engineer my layoff from a well-paying job in 2012 to just write and be absolutely free.

You just never know what might happen if you try. Back when I started, I had to hire someone for $1,500 to launch FS. Now you can launch in under 30 minutes for less than $3/month with Bluehost.

Invest In Entrepreneurs As Well

Taking a leap of faith to become a work-from-home solopreneur is hard. You may want to keep your day job and invest in private growth businesses instead. This way, you get to have brilliant entrepreneurs work for you. Or you can do both! I certainly am with $500,000+ invested in venture capital funds and my own business, Financial Samurai.

To invest in private growth businesses, check out the Innovation Fund. It invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm extremely bullish about. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI!

The investment minimum is also only $10 while most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. You can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much. 

Related: The 10 Best Reasons To Start an Online Business Today

17 thoughts on “Work-From-Home Solopreneur: How I Made The Leap As A Young Father”

  1. Financialslot

    Thank you for always inspiring us to launch out on our own. One of the reasons I started my blog was the inspiration from read your story and this has helped me to stay focused. Andy’s story is also a morale booster that will hardwork and focus we can make our dreams come true

  2. Good work, Andy. Here’s my quick story to help fuel the stoke of this community. I made the leap in 2015 and it was the best decision of my life. I had saved a bunch in my 9-5 so I could have a long run way and took the following year to “engineer” the best solopreneur business I could conjure that would fit my stay-at-home-dad lifestyle. No employees. No overhead. Scalable. It ended up being an Amazon FBA brand. Launched in 2016 and sold it in 2018 for 7-figures. It is possible, my friends. Plan. Then go for it.

      1. Sorry for the late reply!

        Re: Tax rate – It was all capital gains tax because it was an “asset sale”. I was able to split the all cash deal to spread over 2 years to distribute the load and lower the cap gains brackets from 20% to 15%. I definitely considered rolling into an Opportunity Zone to punt the taxes, but I wasn’t comfortable going from a life changing business sale right into a large real estate investment.

        Ultimately, I knew the taxes were going to hurt so I built the business to a size to handle the large burden at the end. Even though I knew it was coming, writing those massive checks to Uncle Sam was brutal. Taxes were much easier to swallow back in the w2 withholding days, but we ain’t go back there anytime soon!


  3. This is an inspiring article and a path I hope to replicate in my own over time. Im only a few months in and still have no idea what I am doing, but I know a lot more than I did before I started!

  4. Andy, awesome article. Thanks so much for sharing.

    May I ask what equipment and software you use to run your business?

    I’ve pieced together a few components to make my website operational. I switched from Drupal to WordPress so that I did not have to rely so much on programming language I don’t have time to learn. I don’t have enough money to pay for the email marketing excellence that is ConvertKit, so I braved the labyrinth that is Amazon Web Services and came up with a way to send emails at 1,000 for ten cents. I can’t trust myself to podcast until I can prove I am committed to blogging, but I am always highly curious to read about the behind-the-scenes components behind people’s success. To the extent that you can, I hope you might share a few tools you use to make your business run smoothly.

    1. Sure thing!

      I went with WordPress too. It is simple and intuitive.

      Now it all depends on your site’s focus, but a few of my favorite FREE tools are:

      – Buffer: Helps me schedule my social media activity throughout the week
      – Canva: Making graphics easily and for free
      – Calendly: Scheduling calls, interviews, etc for free

      I hope this helps!

  5. Andy, thank you for sharing your perspective; the good and the not so good! I especially enjoyed reading about the lessons learned during your first 6 months as I am thinking about pursuing a solopreneurship. I can only imagine the many challenges you have faced starting your own business during a pandemic. Congrats on the transition and wishing you the best as you continue to build and grow!

    1. I appreciate those kind words Erica! Yes, the global pandemic was NOT in my 2020 business plan – haha

      Good luck with your solopreneurship goals!

  6. Financial Freedom Countdown

    Congratulations Andy! Agree that test driving your entrepreneurial gig before taking the leap is the best option.

  7. Thanks for sharing your story Andy! And congrats on going out on your own. It takes a lot of courage to do something on your own.

    How have you and your wife managed to juggle home schooling for your kids while working? Do you have any tips now that you’ve had to find a way to make it all work for many months now? Are your kids at an age where they’re pretty good at independent play?

    1. We’re in the “middle zone” of parenting. Our kids are young but they are developing independence. Zoey is 8 and she’s much more independent than my son Calvin who just turned 6.

      We’ve relied on my parents for support a couple days per week, a sitter for another day and then Nicole and I swap on the 4th day. So right now, we’re both working around 30-ish hours per week.

      We’re hopeful school will be back in the fall!

      One thing I’ve learned during quarantine is that giving each other breaks is crucial. Giving Nicole a break to meet up with her girlfriends or just relax can be great for her AND the entire family. Same goes for me.

  8. Thanks for sharing your story Andy. Can you share how much you guys pay for your health insurance high deductible plan and whether you can deduct the expense from your business?

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