46-Year-Old Used This 4-Part Strategy to Quit Her Job and Start Her Own Business — Now It's Brought in Tens of Millions

Photo by Kat Harris

In 2009, Amy Porterfield was the director of content development at Anthony (Tony) Robbins Companies. Between the regular paychecks, paid vacations and promotions, she liked the job just fine. But when it gave her the chance to meet people building online businesses, she realized, "I want freedom," she says. "I wanted to work when I wanted to work, where I wanted to work, how I wanted to work," just like they were doing.

Porterfield ended up quitting her job that year to found a social media business and eventually started creating online courses. In 2019, she launched the Digital Course Academy, which teaches users how to build an online course business itself.  

"I've helped over 50,000 students," she says, and she's generated tens of millions of dollars. She also started the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast, which has been downloaded nearly 50 million times, according to her site.

Porterfield, 46, and based in Nashville, Tennessee, recently released her first book, "Two Weeks Notice: Find the Courage to Quit Your Job, Make More Money, Work Where You Want, and Change the World," a guide for those working a 9-to-5 keen to start their own business.

Here's how she was able to build her own successful career as an entrepreneur.

'I had to choose my exit date'

When it first occurred to Porterfield to found a business, she began looking for direction. She asked herself questions like, "What am I good at? Where have I gotten results? What do people ask me about all the time?" she says.

Once she narrowed in on social media, Porterfield put together a four-part "runway," or exit strategy from her 9-to-5:

  • "I had to choose my exit date," she says. "I knew that if I didn't choose an exit date, I was never leaving." She decided on six months and put it on a Post-it note on her mirror where she could see it every day.
  • "I had to look at my finances," she says. She calculated how much money she actually needed to pay all of her bills, then figured how many jobs she'd have to take within the new business to cover her expenses.
  • "I made sure that I told only three people," she says: her husband, her mom and her best friend. "When you tell too many people of your dreams, they're going to tell you all the reasons why you shouldn't do it."
  • Finally, even while still at her day job, she dove in. She learned about her new business by finding resources about it like podcasts, books or calling anyone who could help. Then she dove into the actual work on mornings and weekends "just to get my feet wet and bring a little money in," she says. She also wanted to test the viability of the business.

"When I got to the six months, I left even though I didn't have as much money in the bank as I wanted, even though I was still terrified and not sure how I was going to make this work," she says. "I wanted to stay committed to myself."

'How are you creating those digital courses?'

While running her social media business, Porterfield started experimenting with another way to help people run theirs ― creating a course teaching them how to do it.

She spent about $3,000 on the first course and sold it for $297. "And at the end of my little launch, I made $267," she says, not even enough to cover one unit. "I cried for an entire week," she says. Eventually, she went back to the drawing board and launched a second course, then a third. She continued to build her repertoire and quit the original social media gig in 2011.

After running her digital courses for nine years, she realized there was one thing people kept asking: "How are you creating those digital courses?" she says. That's when she had the idea for Digital Course Academy, which includes video lessons, PDF guides and live Q&As.

"It was the biggest launch I'd ever done. The best feedback I've ever gotten. And the testimonials started rolling in." She's been selling it for just under $2,000 and teaching it ever since.

'What's the lesson here?'

When it comes to her latest venture, the book, Porterfield hopes it'll help people build their own runway to leaving a 9-to-5 and starting a business. "I wanted to write the book I didn't have when I was first starting out," she says.

As they make their exit plans, she'd tell people that "every single step of the way, when I was still in my 9-to-5 job getting ready to leave, I felt all the doubts, all the fear, all the trepidation," she says. So it's OK if they feel those, too.

Plus, she'd remind people that she messed up a lot along the way. But those mess-ups were ultimately opportunities. They gave her a chance to ask, "What's the lesson here? What do I need to learn and what can I do better?"

Check out:

This millennial mom built a $1 million business by 33—here's her advice to other entrepreneurs

This 34-year-old mom's Etsy store brought in nearly $160,000 in 2021: How she built her side hustle while working full time

Single mom earns $10,000/month on Outschool: 'I would have never been able to make as much money as a regular teacher'

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