Do you want to escape 9 to 5, but you don’t know how to make it happen?

In early 2013 I decided that I’m not going to waste my life as a walking dead banker. I’ve had enough.

I knew from day one that I don’t fit the banking environment. But it took me some time until I was ready to cut the crap.

I needed to figure out first how to get a business running while working in my 9 to 5 job.

Here’s what I’ve learnt!

Start Out Today

When I started my first “business” in 2012, I did everything wrong. I founded a corporation with a co-founder before we had a single paying customer. I programmed a fancy website before we had validated our idea. And when my partner chickened out, I didn’t have the balls to do it alone.

It was painful, but I learnt an invaluable lesson for my second business: You don’t need to found a corporation. You don’t need a fancy website. And for sure you don’t need a logo or business cards.

Start out and add value to someone’s life. That’s it. Work around all the unnecessary crap.

  • You want to be an artist? Create remarkable art and offer it on eBay.
  • You want to be a published author? Write a kick-ass book and self-publish it on Amazon.
  • You want to be a consultant? Reach out to people and offer free consulting.
  • You want to be a lifestyle entrepreneur? Start a legit blog and create a digital product.

You don’t need any fancy stuff. You can start creating value today. You might be a bloody nobody in your industry. But nobody can stop you from producing value and finding customer. Be ballsy and get your name out there!

Failure is Part of the Game

Are you scared that you might produce failures? You don’t need to be scared! Failures are part of the game.

I fail every other day with things that are new for me. Every entrepreneur I know fails at least once in a while with new tasks.

It’s aggressive trial and error. Or better: aggressive trial and optimization.

You make failures. You learn from it. You do it better the next time.

Accept that you will produce failure after failure as a beginner. It’s better to produce these failures while 9-5 is covering your ass.

Nothing bad can happen to you. You don’t believe me? Think about the worst case. What is the worst that can happen if you stay away from unnecessary crap and focus on adding value?

Let me help you: nobody wants your shit and you need to step up your game until it’s good enough.

Walk the Walk Before You Talk

While developing my exit plan, I made a huge mistake. I talked with everybody about my desire to leave banking. As a reward I received discouragement and doubts.

Talking about your plans is a dangerous play. Neither your colleagues, nor your friends will understand your plans.

Keep the door closed for negative and discouraging feedback. Walk the walk before you talk.

Start creating value today. Find your first customer. Earn some money. And then you can talk about your achievements.

If you can’t execute your plan without external advice, talk with an expert. An expert is a person who has already walked the walk; a person who is busy living the life of your dreams.

Prevent Breaking Along The Line

Leaving 9-5 behind will kick you in the face at least once in a while. It will be tough and stressful. It’s your duty to protect yourself from going bananas.

A daily morning routine will keep you healthy and vital. It won’t take you longer than 60 minutes. The benefits will be overpaying.

Take A Cold Shower: Taking cold showers will wake you up and blow your brain fog away. No matter how long you train cold showers, it will never become a pleasure. Doing it anyway will boost your discipline and willpower. It´s the perfect start into a new day.

Meditate for 20 minutes: Mediation is the single best tool to control your thoughts and emotions. It will train your brain to be present in the moment. It will calm your mind. And it will make you unreactive to whatever happens during the day.

Vegetable Shake: Shit in, shit out. Your diet has a major impact on your mental and physical well-being. A vegetable smoothie is an easy way to cover essential nutrients. Use different dark green vegetables, and some fruits for a better taste. I use Brussels sprouts, broccoli and some mango.

Read for 20 minutes: Read books from people who have already walked the walk in your industry. You will learn invaluable knowledge. You will gain the right mindset. And you’ll realize that your plans are not out of this world.

Stretching / Body weight exercises: Do some stretching and body weight exercises to end your routine. It will set a great rhythm for the day. And it will energize your body.

While working 9-5, I was performing this routine first thing in the morning before I went to work. It was a brilliant start to a new day. Today my daily routine includes about 15 activities.

Don’t Waste Valuable Time

Be aware: The following advice will not qualify you as employee of the year. But if you’re planning to quit anyway…

Use every free minute during your workday to research your industry. Reach out to people in your industry (use the web portal of your email provider, not your company account). Write and edit documents in Google docs. Be creative and do what it takes.

You don’t need to feel bad about it. As long as you still produce results, nobody gets hurt. All of your colleagues are wasting time surfing and reading the news. You’re just using your free time differently.

If you have the opportunity to work from your home office: go for it. Finish your daily tasks asap. Produce decent results to fly under the radar. Work the rest of the day on your own plans.

The Right Time to Quit

I quit before I had earned a single dime from my second business. I never cared about failing or taking risks. But that’s me.

You have three options:

1. Quit tomorrow

You’ll figure shit out. Your mind will produce. You will do what it takes to survive.

2. Quit after you’ve earned your first $

Start producing value, find your first customer, sell something, quit and scale. If you can find one customer, you can find ten. If you can find ten customers…

3. Quit after you can live from it

Produce value, find your first customer, sell something, scale it to a decent income and quit. It’s the slow but safe path.

It’s up to you!

You are the only one who knows how much pressure and risk you can take.


Working 9-5 is a tremendous opportunity for you. Use 9-5 to make your exit happen. Start creating value today, get your name out there, find your first customer, make failures and learn from it. The day when you’re ready to quit will come soon.


Sebastian writes on about his 10+ years self-improvement experience. He’s the author of the book Beat Your Laziness.


  1. Comment by Erica

    Erica Reply May 21, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Really good article! I’ve been so unhappy in my 9-5! I literally live for the weekends and finally I had the guts to say enough is enough! I just started an eBay business a month ago. I’m still learning but I’m actually making sales! Not much but it’s a start. I just ordered a large amount of inventory and will be increasing my listings big time. I will definitely do number 3 because I wouldn’t feel comfortable quitting until I’m making enough to cover my expenses. My goal is to at least go part time within the next 6 months or so (20 hours a week) then eventually quit!

  2. Comment by Graham

    Graham Reply February 4, 2016 at 8:46 am

    This is such a great article!
    It’s the exact process I’m going through right now.
    I was working as a banker for 3 years and it was so bad it was starting to damage my health.
    I took a leave of absence and realized I felt so much better dealing with the stress/challenges of starting a business rather than stress of the 9 to 5. I finally quit and am just going for it ( I also started a prior business with a co-founder that failed. It’s surprising how adaptable people are and what can be accomplished survival is on the line.

  3. Comment by mehdi xızıroğlu

    mehdi xızıroğlu Reply June 25, 2014 at 6:08 am

    i don t know what should i say now! i am a banker too, although my job is very very easy in central office of Risk mgt department as an expert, but i hate this fucking 9-5 ! and i am going to start my own business .its amazing for me that what you say in this paper that is all my feelings! really i pleasured from your paper(specially this part ***It’s better to produce these failures while 9-5 is covering your ass*** and certainly i will follow your notes. thank you very very much :)

    • Comment by Matt

      Matt Reply January 19, 2016 at 3:19 am

      Yes! I’m pulling the pin and leaving my job for good. In 2 years time. lol. I have done it before and I am doing it again. Why I went back to 9-5 I will never know. But life is about learning. This time I’m not in my 20’s I’m close to 50. But wiser I will go about it very differently. I am planning and creating behind the scene in my spare time. Slowly building my ‘other incomes’. Then wham! I’m gone and never to return to the grind. I liken it to digging a tunnel to freedom. It keeps you alive on the inside and provides a light at the end of the tunnel. Can’t wait.

  4. Comment by Leslie Howard

    Leslie Howard Reply April 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    That article kicked major a*s! :-) LOVED IT!

  5. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply March 21, 2014 at 5:24 am

    Yes, the beginning is almost always the hardest part, at least after the initial euphoria is gone and you notice that it’s still actual work ;-)

    But that’s exactly the period you have to keep at it — and learn and adjust the best way possible to what you know now (this is key!).

    If you listen and observe what people who are successful actually do, you’ll get the feeling for what works and develop your own profit plan. I think that’s one of the most important things to determine as fast as possible: what exactly will bring in the money.

    Blogging in itself can be a huge time-waster, also because growth usually takes some time, so that you need to have a profit/business plan and blogging is a supporting part of it, not the other way around.

    PS. I would not listen to the “guru” who says “Just build a website in a niche you like and the money will come.” :)

  6. Comment by Troy S.

    Troy S. Reply March 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    One of the hard parts is knowing who to listen to. There are so many gurus out there. Just build a website in a niche you like and the money will come. Sure, if you have 100K people already reading your blog.
    Stephen King’s next book will be a best seller. Because he is Stephen King and everyone knows and loves him.
    Neil Patel’s next venture will probably be a success because he already has a fan base.
    It is easy to listen to those who say it is so easy and forget to mention how they struggled at the beginning when no one knew them.

  7. Comment by Aqilah Norazman

    Aqilah Norazman Reply March 17, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Great post, Sebastian. And thanks Myrko for featuring him. Love the actionable steps especially walking the walk before you talk. Absolutely true, instead of focusing on trying to impress people, just go out there and do your things.

    Love the morning daily habits too. Going for a run does for me — first thing before my brain starts to switch on.

  8. Comment by lydia

    lydia Reply March 15, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Great link Sebastian! Thank u! <3

  9. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply March 15, 2014 at 10:10 am

    In regards to consulting, here is a way to follow up: Do a great job on the free consulting. Then do a testimonial with the person, building your authority. Then get paid clients.

  10. Comment by Ludvig Sunström

    Ludvig Sunström Reply March 15, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Nice post, Sebastian — one that is practically applicable and doable for most people. Not just another “you-can-make-it-if you-try-posts” for dreamers.

    “You want to be a consultant? Reach out to people and offer free consulting.”

    — This is probably the most feasible alternative, at least to begin with. I know a few people who’ve done just this, and simply by doing it they’ve started earning 50 % more money and had more freedom. But they were hard workers before quitting, of course.

  11. Comment by sebastian

    sebastian Reply March 15, 2014 at 1:04 am

    @lydia: llydia you just found yourself a possible solution for your problem. If you’re willing to invest some time and effort, you can create a blue collar business.

    You’ve already validated the market! The next steps are not as frightening as they might look.

    -> How to Make Side Money with a Blue Collar Business

  12. Comment by lydia

    lydia Reply March 14, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you! It took about 3 weeks, but I advertised cleaning/housekeeping $20 an hour. I love cleaning, so it is easy for me. I got a request and today cleaned my first client home! 3 hrs for $60. Not bad. This is just a means to tie me over. I think if I could do a couple things that I love, I’d be set! My dream has always been to move to a Florida Beach. My goal is to do it this June. My kids are excited about new beginnings. I’m moving in the right direction, so excited. The beach and sunshine is where im happiest, where I am at peace. I know the possibilities are endless, I know things will fall into place. I’m ready for the 2nd half of my life ;))) thank you so much for your support and I’m so happy I found your page. You always seem to write about things so appropriate for me at the perfect time. ;)

  13. Comment by Patrick

    Patrick Reply March 14, 2014 at 5:40 am

    Definitely give it a go!

  14. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply March 14, 2014 at 4:59 am

    @Jeremy: Yes, as long as you learn something and use this in your next attempt, you will make progress and eventually succeed.

    @lydia: Good luck and lots of success to you. Hope this site can contribute a little here.

    @sebastian: From my experience I believe point (2) finding customers should eventually be point 1 in priority when you plan out your lifestyle business. The best first question is not alone:

    What do I want to do? Or what can I do best? (this is part of the puzzle)

    The first question is:

    What need can I fulfil (that people would pay me for)?

    So what is the profit plan? And is it really good? Have you put enough thought in it?

    It’s a learning curve here of course. Which is also true for time-consuming side-tasks that create low value. Those tasks are probably learning material as you said so eloquently with failing is part of the game. But over time it gets clearer what the high-value and what the low-value tasks are. In the beginning, building the business up, are also high-value tasks.

  15. Comment by sebastian

    sebastian Reply March 14, 2014 at 12:11 am

    @Myrko Thum:

    thanks for having me!

    Running a lifestyle business comes around with tons of time-consuming side tasks. They all have in common that they hardly create any value.

    As you mentioned, it`s key to focus from day one to the core of the business:
    1. Add value to somebody`s life
    2. Find people who are willing to pay for it

  16. Comment by lydia

    lydia Reply March 13, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    I’m on my way ;). I have walked away from good money. I could no longer work where I cannot grow as a person. I did the first choice. Just quit. Felt liberating. No, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, or where. I do know that leaving what wasn’t working was the first step. I am a single mom, 2 kids. I have a mortgage and bills like everyone else. When you give yourself time to regroup and you are happier, you’d be surprised how much can be accomplished. You will be surprised at the talent, passion and drive you have inside.

    • Comment by SHERIKA

      SHERIKA Reply May 31, 2016 at 6:16 am


      I am there with you as well. In the process of walking away from good money because it seems to now stifle my full potential. I have developed a passion for a new business venture and feel like I need the freedom to regroup and gather new ideas to get this going completely.

  17. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply March 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for your guest-post and for that experiential knowledge, Sebastian.

    I think the key message here is to get going right away with the CORE of what you want to do. And that is creating value with the thing you want to create eventually. Go right for the main goal. Don’t get sidetracked and over prepared.

    To all readers: Is founding your own lifestyle business something you would like to read more of here?

  18. Comment by Jeremy

    Jeremy Reply March 13, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    “Start out and add value to someone’s life. That’s it. Work around all the unnecessary crap.” ==> So true.

    “Walk the Walk Before You Talk” ==> I would say be careful with who you share your plans with instead. Telling the right people can actually be beneficial. You just have to choose them wisely.

    The thing about failure is that we need to realise it is absolutely necessary. All successful people failed numerous times and on very large scales before achieving anything great. Even J.K. Rowling attributes her strong foundations for rebuilding her life from being “rock bottom.” You just have to learn something from your failures and keep going.

    Fall 10 times? Get back up 11.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go top