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

KristenUncategorized19 Comments

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.

19 Comments on “5 things your bridge job MUST do to help you start your business”

  1. Brad Kynoch

    This is exactly where I’m at… needing to make money urgently in a bridge job while I build my dream business. But I want to create my OWN bridge job rather than get hired as an employee, so I need it to be a building block toward my OWN dream business, yet still be fast at brining in money. Your timely article will help me out!

    1. Kristen Domingue

      Hi Brad, I want to challenge you here – do you HAVE to create your own bridge job? This will make the process of getting to your dream business even more difficult. The same amount of time and energy you need to find clients for the bridge job is the same time and energy you need to find clients for your dream biz. Being an employee may be precisely the building block you need. Consider it.

  2. Nikki Brocco

    This was an amazing and honest article. I too have had the dreams of just up and quitting so I can commit full time to health coaching. I often have to convince myself not to because I know I need income coming in so I can invest in education and coaches that will help me grow my business in a way that isn’t going to leave me bonkers about money. That being said though, I did find it interesting to learn that this part time job I have a loose leaf tea shop probably isn’t the most ideal bridge job. My income can be inconsistent ( haven’t worked in almost 2 weeks due to weather closings). And just when I think my schedule is going to be consistent, it usually isn’t. That is why I feel so frantic and stressed because I can’t predict what is going to happen next. I often take my home with me emotionally because of how stressful of an atmosphere it can be which leaves me resentful and without much headspace. I had originally had an agreement with my boss to not be floating around and not be asked to cover extra shifts, etc. but one thing or another happens and that doesn’t last. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place because I know I could negotiate it down to one day a week that I’m there, but I really need to work a little more than that to be comfortable. When I’m working 2 or more days, that’s when things start to get out of hand.
    It really makes me eager to change some things up and not feel so bad about having a job while I’m trying to make this business dream work.
    Very insightful blog here, so thank you SO much for it :)

    1. Kristen Domingue

      Hi Nikki,

      You are welcomed – glad you found it helpful. Please don’t feel bad about having a job while making your dream business work. It’s normal and helpful to have one. Glad you found this criteria helpful. By all means, get a better bridge job. So you actually have the resources to invest in your business (energy and head space.)

  3. karla

    great blog kristen! i used to see this at ladies who launch all the time. hands down the right bridge job could make or break you. health, wealth, love and prosperity to you always. and loads of laughter too! i’ve sent a few clients your way. hope they reached out! be well, karla

    1. Kristen Domingue

      Karla thanks so much! I really appreciate the referrals and the camaraderie. Thanks for staying in touch. And yes I agree – the right bridge job can make you or break you.

  4. Shara Raqs

    Kristen ! Great article! I just wanted to chime in because waiting tables in FINE DINING has been a Dream Bridge for me. I had a successful career of 10 years from Tech Start-Up, to global ad agencies. When I knew it was time to spread my wings and fly on my own, I got a the best waitressing gig in town (after not waiting tables since 2000) I have a consistent 3 day/wk schedule, make more than enough to cover my basics and rub elbows with amazing folk that swing by Clyde Common in the heart of a bustling city. I’ve served Green Day, Russel Edgington (from True Blood) sat after my shift and shared my Start-Up ideas with a executive team that just got venture capital and made some amazing friends in my actual city so I have a rockin social life *offline* When I was in college, I chose fine dining as my first job intentionally. Because I knew it would allow me to be in cool cities anywhere in the world and have a income stream while I focused on my dream.

    1. Kristen Domingue

      Hi Shara! Thanks for sharing. Awesome you found a bridge job that worked for you! Fine Dining can be quite an awesome experience. Scheduling consistency is the key. SO happy for you that you were able to nail it.

  5. Jenn Scalia

    This makes so much sense. 12 years ago I fell into Real Estate but I never really did it as a full time job. When I lost my comfy corporate job last year, I decided that going back to real estate sales would help me make money while I was building my business. But the hours are sporadic, just like the clients. The money is good when it comes (which is unpredictable). I always cringe when I think about getting a “real job” with steady income because I feel like if I’m working 40 hours somewhere else, that’s taking away from my building my dream. I’ve have multiple offers for freelance gigs, but I always turn them down because I start thinking, if I’m going to spend 15-20 hours writing, doing social media or marketing for someone else’s business, then I might as well be doing it for myself. Thanks for the reality check!

    1. Kristen Domingue

      Hi Jenn! You can count on me anytime for the reality check. I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but if you can work elsewhere for consistent pay and predictable time, it’s a leveraged use of your time and energy to make the kind of investments you want into your business. Go for it!

  6. Makesha Dixon

    Hey Kristen,

    Right now i am in my bridge job as a career counselor for persons with disabilities. I am wanting to transfer my job (which thankfully i can) back to my hometown to be able to move my daughter and I back home with my mom to save money. My passion is writing and life planning also, but I am terrified of transitioning back home where everyone has that “back home mentality”. I have had some success with interviewing with a national non profit as a feature writer and i really want to focus my attention there. However I wondering if I should just stay put here where i have more resources for my dream or back home where i can save more.

    Scared in South Carolina

  7. Elizabeth Elkins

    Hi Kristen!
    This article definitely spoke to me, however I am still having a bit of a dilemma. I am currently in the process of building my dream business, as an Enneagram Consultant. Realistically, I think it will take me about 3-5 years until I am able to fully support myself in that business. In the meantime, I have been waiting tables for all of my post-college and post-graduate school years. The positive sides are that I am able to call my schedule, I have a very consistent pay-check, I get health insurance, the environment is beautiful, we serve delicious, organic food, we have a high-profile clientele which always keeps things interesting, and for the most part I enjoy the people I work with. The negative sides are that everyone I work with is about 10 years younger than me and in a different stage in life, I am no longer interested in going out and meeting guys. I am engaged, and looking forward to getting married, and excited about having an adult life. Also, everyone I work with, managers included, is completely drained by the job. In the next couple months, half of the staff is leaving. Also, the customers have gotten very entitled and lack grace and tact. But, mostly, I am just DONE. For the past year, every time before I go into my shift I meet so much resistance. It is always struggle, and is very soul-sucking. My current dilemma is: do I stay at the restaurant, and continue to pour all my energy into creating my business? Or do I search for a new bridge job that will give me more sanity to continue to work on my business for the next 3 years?
    Any advice is much appreciated.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Mandalyn McClelland May

      Hi Elizabeth!
      Since Kristen has not responded I hope you don’t mind if I do :)
      I find your description interesting in that you are able to paint a picture of both the best and worst parts of your job – reading it, my impression is that you can see it both ways – about 50/50 whether you feel positively or negatively on any given day.

      What we focus on, expands!

      My question for you is: from your perspective, is the balance positive or negative? (You may want to ask yourself that question during a day off, rather than at the end of a shift.) Are you able to experience gratitude for your consistent paycheck, health insurance, excellent food, and positive clientele? In particular, gratitude that you are able to support yourself and fulfill your needs for shelter and safety while working there? When you have a trying day at work, can you flip that negative energy into gratitude that you are moving forward with your new business into your new life?

      It also sounds like you have a potentially unique opportunity to build clientele through the people you are serving now. If you are 10 years older than your co-workers, so much the better. You stand out because you have the desire to move forward, and you know what your goals are. Be willing to talk about what you are building. Allow yourself to view the people you are serving as your peers, and future clients. I’m not suggesting that you become overzealous or market yourself in a way that interferes with your work, but having been a server myself, I know that there are times when a patron asks about you – and you now have a chance to respond with excitement about the business you are building.

      Finally, if you are able to set your schedule, do you have the capability to ‘wean yourself’ off of this job over time? Can you flex your hours so that you are working 4 days a week, and giving a full day (or, two) to your new business while still leaving one day off for yourself? Create goals for yourself and your business that are short term and achievable – stay excited about what you are doing, and that may help you more than searching for a new bridge job would at this time.

      It sounds like you are already on the road to success. If you can keep your energy focused on that road, you will be surprised at how opportunities line up for you!

      Good luck,


  8. Emily Amarnick

    Hi Kristen- This post made my day! I found it at exactly the perfect time. I’ve been exploring some possible bridge jobs while I grow my health coaching/personal chef business. Thank you!


  9. Mack

    Hi Kristen,

    Thank you for this great article!

    I few months ago I found a perfect job for my current situation but I did not have a name for it…and now I do…MY BRIDGE JOB. :) I got a job in a bookstore and I work 3 days per week, 6 hours a day, no stress, cool atmosphere, meeting cool people and access to all the literature I want. Yes, I do live frugally for the time being but I do not worry about my monthly expenses, while creating and building my own thing.

    Thanks again for this insightful and, in my case, validating post that I am doing the right thing.

    All the best!


  10. Brigette Carrington

    This article really spoke to me. I would love to find a bridge job so I can leave my full time job that I dont like. I really have no money saved up, but still I want to make the move to a job that is less stressful and closer to where I live. This is not easy but I am looking and hoping to find that bridge job that will allow me to continue to meet my monthly obligations and continue to build my business and get my first client soon.

  11. elle

    you’re awesome. thanks for being so in-tune, and sharing as freely and openly as you do -may you attract and manifest the most clear and desired of your hearts love(s). Thank you. ( also read the post about re-filling of the well to get your creative juices flowing…ie trip to paris – was great ) Thank you – AGAIN. Heart 2 you. 😉


  12. Micaela Barrios

    This is such a great article. It’s such a simple tip, but there is a lot of that “quit your shitty desk job” mentality that drives people (including me at one point) to abandon the security of a steady income.

    Makes me appreciate my own bridge job a lot more! :)

  13. Pingback: 3 Common Myths About Changing Careers. - Kristen Domingue

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