I think I Googled this question about a million times hoping that someone had the answer. When can I hand in my resignation and really call myself a business owner? When can I shimmy out of that office once and for all?

What you don’t want to read is ‘there’s no definite time frame’, but there isn’t as, unfortunately, it’s reliant on external factors too, but there’s a hell of a lot of things you can set out to achieve to get you closer and here are the main ones I believe give you that green light to tell HR you’re off and thanks for the memories.

1. When your bills are met

Once all those essential bills were met each month with client work I knew I no longer needed to check the local part-time admin jobs every week. Instead, I used that time to continue networking, marketing and stalking new clients so I was earning more than enough to cover bills.

Don’t forget that ‘bills’ includes your tax and National Insurance. This self-employed ready reckoner is a useful resource to calculate your self-assessment tax bill if you’re UK based. Save it to your bookmarked websites now ready to see how much you need to be putting away in a savings account for HMRC.

2. When your employment is getting in the way

I worked part-time when I started my VA business and about a month in it became apparent I couldn’t do both. I was more than happy to put hours in in the evening for client work as my business was growing and my clients were happy with this too, but almost immediately after taking the job my social media marketing took off and clients were coming out of everywhere. It got to the point where I was working every evening until 10pm on client work and on my days off, and my employed role would have prevented me from taking on any more clients so, as I was able to meet the household bills, I left employment once and for all.

3. When client work starts to suffer

If being your own successful business owner is your ultimate goal then you need to ensure the ones who are making it possible, your clients, are given the best possible service you can give. If you see it’s starting to suffer then it might be time to let employment go and just concentrate solely on the business, whether you’re in a financially safe position or not. Sometimes you will need to take such risks in business and step outside of a feeling of comfort to enable you to go forward.

Consider this, if you’re not giving your clients an excellent service they may stop using you and probably won’t recommend you.

4. Employment is making you poorly (mentally, physically or emotionally)

I don’t think you’d be reading this if your every working day as an employee was wonderful. We all get days where we’d rather not be an adult, rather not ask how a colleagues weekend was or make tea for the shirker who never makes one back, but when work is controlling your every thought negatively, or if it’s having a negative effect on your emotions, mental or physical well-being then I think it’s time to seriously consider getting out.

You’ll understand more about why I feel so strongly about that in the final chapter of my book.

If you found this article of interest you may also find my free VA resources useful.