5 things your bridge job MUST do to help you start your business

by Kristen on February 7, 2014

Certification in hand, and high on my new-found health I decided – It’s time to quit my full time job. I just graduated from the health coach training and was certified to actually do my dream – coach people. I had healed my diagnosis of lupus completely, and I liked the power in knowing that I could change someone’s life for the better.

Today I want to tell you the truth about bridge jobs – what they are good for, what type to get, why you need one, and why you shouldn’t plan to “hope the net will catch you.”

But before I give you the goods, I want to share with you how one very bright young woman (me) had to learn this simple lesson the hard way.

When I left health coaching school in 2006 I was at a crossroads at a job I loved very much. I adored the people. I was doing something I loved. And the work was meaningful for me. I was also making more than I ever had.

However my role at the organization needed to shift to better serve the needs of my department. There were an entire set of things I’d need to learn in order to assume my new role.

While logically it seemed like a smart idea to learn what they needed me to, keep my job and health coach on the side, there was something inside of me that just plain didn’t wanna do it. I wanted to move in the direction of coaching. And this new role seemed to take me away from it, not closer to it. Ahhh, youth.

Simultaneously, the opportunity to move to San Francisco with my partner came up – a city that was FAR more into holistic health than Boston was at the time. Plus, our SF rent was half the rent that I was paying in Boston. (Gotta love rent control.)

I felt the universe was telling me to just go for it.

I left my consulting job with no real plan and no significant savings.

I leapt.

And the net did not catch me.

That year I struggled. I had just enough for groceries, rent, and public transport. And that was it. I had a business coach for 4 months to teach me how to make money, but learning the marketing strategies, business model, making sure I had the right target market, learning why I was different than every other health coach in town, and getting the confidence to just start selling my work…? That took longer than 4 months to learn.

And while that process is dramatically shortened by having a coach, I hadn’t saved enough to invest in a coach AND support myself when I had to learn something by doing it and things didn’t pan out.

This means there was A LOT of pressure on myself to get this perfect from the start.
(sound familiar?)

When things didn’t quite work out as I thought they would, I did my affirmations, my positive thinking, and my inner work to attract money, but these things alone weren’t enough to make a net appear.

When I say I struggled, what I mean is that I was dependent on my partner when I hadn’t made the money I needed for basics. It was awful. And I was constantly ashamed. (Read as: not a great client magnet.)

This went on until my partner and I realized if I was going to keep doing this work, I needed someone to teach me how to run a business. And one month, we agreed that I’d take the little money I had and put a down payment on long-term support.

And it’s only in hindsight now that I understand the power of a bridge job.

Now I’m not a business foundations teacher. But too often I see people who want my branding support but have no resources with which to invest in their business. They have some savings but are terrified to spend it. And they have some support from their partners but they are too proud to ask for more (or too far in debt.)

If you think you can just quit your job and then start a business at home and it will in 90 days or less start supporting you, itself and the lifestyle you want, you’re wrong. It won’t even happen in 6 months. (I thought it might, but I’ve since learned that’s very, very, very rare.)

Even if you’ve saved up 6 months of expenses or a full year of expenses, you still need a bridge job.


Because you need to invest in your own education, marketing, and team in order to grow your business. Getting a website done does not a business make. And you don’t want to lean into your savings (which I see happen far to often) in order to invest in your support.

The clients I see who lean into their savings are wracked with guilt about it. And are terrified they’ve made a mistake when the money doesn’t come back to them right away. There’s this number in their bank account that gets smaller and smaller before they bring in any new money, and as a result, their fear is fertile breeding ground for scarcity mindset. (Also not the most client-attractive.)

Whether you are well saved, or not saved at all, bridge jobs are your wings while you make the leap.

A bridge job is an interim job that pays for your bare necessities while you build your dream business.

Having watched my clients who have bridge jobs (and seen the error in not having one myself that first year) I’ve noticed that people with bridge jobs grow their businesses faster and with more ease. I’ve also noticed not all bridge jobs are created equal.

If you’re thinking of getting a bridge job, here are 5 essential things to look for:

1) Your bridge job provides a consistent and predictable paycheck.
This paycheck should cover your basic needs to live every month. It should be the same amount every time so you have no surprises. And it should also come at the same intervals (monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.)

2) Your bridge job provides predictably consistent hours.
This ensures you are FREE. You aren’t waiting around on them to give you a schedule so that you can then try and schedule your life and getting your business up and running. My clients who’ve had to wait around for schedules are troubled by the way they can’t really plan to leave town, go to conferences, network, or schedule their own clients. And in turn, their businesses grow much slower.

3) Your bridge job allows you ownership of your mind and time when you leave.
When you walk out of the building, you don’t want to drag your bridge job with you in your mind and heart. This shouldn’t be the type of job where your boss has your cell phone and calls you when you aren’t there, or where you are working on it when you aren’t there.

4) Your bridge job isn’t a career and isn’t full time.
It’s more like 20-30 hours so you have time and headspace to work on your business.

5) Your bridge job isn’t another side business that requires you to find clients.
If you have to go out and find people to pay you (all forms of free-lancing and contract work) then it’s not a bridge job, it’s another business. You want to keep your headspace free to start the business you’re actually passionate about.

My clients’ best bridge jobs are things they’re overqualified for and bored doing. Why? Because in moments when they aren’t fully engaged, they can think about the business they’re passionate about and do some things to get it off the ground.

Many of them had full time jobs in one industry and switched to part time jobs in a different industry because it met the criteria they needed. This bought them the time they needed to make sure their business was viable. And you’ll want to have as much time as you can to figure this out without needing to jump back into full-time work because you ran out of savings or burned bridges with your partner or other financial support system.

And to be explicitly clear if you’re still wondering what’s a bridge job and what’s not, by default this criteria rules out the majority of jobs in these categories:
• Retail jobs
• Waitressing, bar-tending and almost everything in the food and beverage industry
• Freelancing
• Yoga teaching (or any other modality requiring you to chase hours and build a following)

The best kind of bridge job is the one where you sit at a desk at an office works with your strengths. If you’re anything like me, your heart just sank a little bit. Office work?! That’s so not me! I wanna do something I’m passionate about!

I totally get it. But this is where you have to put your big girl business owner panties on and look at your life holistically and over the long term:
Passions or not, if your bridge job works with your strengths the job will be easy for you, and that’s what’s important. Save your bandwidth! You’ll need it! You’ll be challenged and outside of your comfort zone enough with almost everything you do in your new business. And your bridge job will DEFINITELY allow you to grow that business faster by allowing you to invest in the right mentorship and team.

Do you have a story to share about a bridge job? Something that worked out like magic or didn’t work out at all? I wanna know! Tell me about it in the comments.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }