Why I Quit My Job To Pursue My Baking Business Full-Time

I just finished my last day at my corporate job. For context to those who only know me as a baker – I studied accounting in college and spent an entire summer studying to get my CPA.

I worked hard to get to where I was in my career. Six and a half years later, I quit my job as a digital client finance manager at one of top public relations agencies in New York.

Did I Hate My Job?

Did I hate my job? Did I have a terrible boss? Was my work boring?? Not at all! My situation at work could not have been more ideal for me. It combined my love of all things digital (including social media) and finance.

My boss was a wonderful mentor and I loved my colleagues. The environment was open and honest, and I felt respected and appreciated.

I was convinced I found my niche in the corporate world. It was wonderful in the beginning, but then Chelsweets began to grow, at a faster rate than I could have imagined.

Big partnerships (with insanely short timelines), TV appearances, an ongoing content partnership with the Food Network, and a book proposal (a story for another day) began to push me to my limit.

I never thought I would reach a point where I couldn’t pursue both my professional career and my passion for baking. I had always found a way to do both and cherished being able to do it all.

I loved showing the world that I could have traditional success in my corporate career and pursue my other passions. But, in the wise words of my friend Heather Maclean; “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Overcommitting and Underpreforming

I was working at my day job during the week, baking after work, filming on the weekends, and editing videos/blogging whenever I could find the time. I wasn’t sleeping enough and I had lost balance in my life.

I felt so run-down – I was operating at 70% all the time. I’m the type of person who wants to give her all to everything she does, and it became impossible to do so.

Being a perfectionist by nature and someone who wants to always be improving, this made me feel terrible about myself.

I’m sure to no one’s surprise, I hit a breaking point.

I had 5 big partnerships in a four-week span on top of my content partnership with the Food Network (4 cakes each month) – while also being out of town for two of those weekends.

I was working around the clock and I felt like I was losing it. I had a moment of clarity and realized, it’s time.

My Arbitrary Benchmarks

Originally, I had set some ridiculous goals for myself, thinking that once I hit those goals, then I would quit.

But in reality, I never thought I’d reach them. These included:

  • Making 2x my corporate salary doing Chelsweets (for the full year)
  • Paying off my mortgage (another long story…I bought a condo in Seattle a few years ago that I could rent out until I moved back to Seattle)
  • Having a consistent monthly income that I felt comfortable with

As I took a step back and realized how much my little baking business had grown, I was in awe of the fact that in 2018, I hit ALL these goals.

That’s when the gears in my head started turning. I hit all these while only doing it part-time.

Convincing Myself to Take the Plunge

It wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I spent years building Chelsweets to where it is now, months contemplating this decision, and hours analyzing my business strategy and financial position.

I went back and forth while getting to this point.

Was time to quit? No, I should stay in the corporate world I’d worked so hard to establish myself in.

I spent years studying accounting, and lost countless weekends working as an auditor at one of the biggest accounting firms in the world. Becoming a CPA was a big accomplishment for me.

Was I really ready to leave all that behind?

While being self-employed and running my own business is a huge accomplishment, I felt like it was less respectable than my corporate career.

That was one of the biggest mental hurdles I had to overcome.

I spoke with my fiancé, family and friends at length about it, and they reminded me that creating something out of nothing is an incredible feat, and that they would be there for me.

My mom even sent me a card the day I put in my 2-weeks notice, telling me that she and my dad were proud of me.

It sounds silly, but I cried when I read it. Their support helped reassure me that I wasn’t crazy for making this career change.

Defining My New Career

There also is the stigma of being an “influencer” or “doing Instagram full time.” In reality, I’m not doing either of those things.

I’m going to be developing my baking techniques, refining my filming/editing/photography skills, learning SEO and Pinterest strategy, and partnering with brands/media companies to create engaging content that people love to watch.

People don’t see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

They just see you post on social media, and know you have a large following. When people asked what I did for work, what would I say?

Am I a freelancer? An entrepreneur?? That I’m a baker but I don’t actually sell cakes or take cake orders?

me painting blue cake-2

Another huge factor in this decision came down to money, but not in the way you’d think.

To me, money means security. It comes from a lasting career and provides peace of mind. Instagram didn’t even exist ten years ago and I’m not formally trained in anything I do for Chelsweets.

Facing the Uncertainty

Is this really a career path? Will I still be able to support myself in ten years?? I mean, as a kid I used to count my money in my piggy bank every day.

I like money and the security that comes with it. What would I do when I didn’t know how much money I’d make each month? How would I live my life not knowing?

These are questions without an answer. The hardest part of the jump from my corporate job to running my own business was the fear of the unknown.

Despite all of this, something in my gut just told me to go for it. I am a huge believer in intuition and even with these worries, I feel like I’m making the right decision for myself.

I know I still have a ton to learn, but I feel like I’ve figured out just enough to be able to make this leap. I’m filled with nervous energy and ambition.

I’ve promised myself to give this my all so that when I look back, I’ll have no regrets. I’ll know I went for it and I did the very best that I could.

At the end of the day, that’s all you can do (the wise words of my Dad).

Let Me Know Your Thoughts!

If any of you have made a similar leap, or are thinking about it, I’d love to hear your experience or thoughts!!! 

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you think it will – I thought I wanted to be a Partner at an accounting firm or CFO when I first moved to New York and began my career, but sometimes the unexpected turns can lead to the most rewarding paths.

I’m hoping that’s the case for me and am excited to start this journey!

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168 thoughts on “Why I Quit My Job To Pursue My Baking Business Full-Time

  1. Congratulations Chelsea! What an amazing and inspiring story! I’m looking forward to that day to turn in my two weeks notice. I’ve been working for the government for over 12 years now. Job security and benefits are great but I started to question myself, is this what I really want? Started baking in 2008 just as a hobby and I stopped for awhile. In fall 2017, I woke up one morning and decided that I’ll pursue my love for baking and as a dessert caterer. Obtained all the necessary permits and licenses. My first holiday orders were mainly from family and friends. Four months later, I had my first TV interview about Valentine Sweet Treats featuring my handcrafted tartlets, aired on The Filipino Channel. The first half of 2018, I joined three bridal fairs to showcase my “micro-desserts” aka two-bite desserts perfect for weddings and events. From 0 followers on IG, I have 700 followers now. Woohoo!!! Summer 2018, another I was featured again on TV. Fast forward, I get customers from FB, IG and word of mouth. People were sharing links to my website, etc. But I’m at a point that I’m not happy with my job and would love to do my business full-time. Money wise, I’m not ready to take the leap since I have kids, great health benefits, stable income. But, I feel like this business won’t grow if I’m stuck in my 8-5 job. I want to do corporate catering, but how? I have a day job! I want to do wholesale (yup! I have a State permit to manufacture products)…but how? I believe that I have so many potentials but it’s stopping me because I have obligations to fulfill as a full-time employee. My third TV interview will be airing this Sunday so I’m super excited. And we’re taping my 4th TV feature next weekend in LA. I just can’t wait to wake up one day and celebrate my last day at work. Any tips/advice from you will be greatly appreciated. More power to you Chelsea!!! Please check out my IG, @sweetcondesapastries. ?

    1. Congrats on the amazing progress you’ve already made Melody!! it can be much harder to make the leap when you have kids. My best recommendation is to keep grinding, try to save up a nest egg that you feel comfortable with, then take your business full time! It sounds like that’s the path you’re already on!! I wish you tons of success, and am sure you’ll be baking full-time before you know it 🙂

  2. You’re amazing and have been responsible for why I decided to pursue baking again. I too am on the brink of putting my two weeks in for the corporate job I’ve been at for 9 years and have tossed and turned about when to do it. My mentor said, “You’ll know when it’s time to go because it will cost you more to stay, than to go.” Congrats on taking this leap of faith. God has it already all written so just enjoy the ride. Looking forward to seeing your growth and where this baking life takes you this year and beyond! Rooting for you! @karenokonkwo

    1. You’re too sweet Karen!! You’ll def know when it’s time, your mentor is so right!! Best of luck on your baking adventure too, and thank you for your support <3

  3. I am so excited for you to take on this field Full time. I have followed you from the beginning and always knew you would be successful and a great assist to this field. I meet you briefly at The Plaza. Just how sweet and in awe of me recognizing you told me “this girl will be great”. Congratulations Chelsea and all the best!

  4. You are such an inspiration to me! More than you will ever know. I am going through the same situation. Working full time at a bank, starting to build a great career and future. I LOVE my day job and everyone that I work with but I love baking also. I feel like I am drowning with work and don’t have enough time to perfect my skills. I know I have much more potential. I have been thinking about going full time with baking but it is a very hard decision and like you said, I feel ike my day job is more respectful. I am so happy for your success and I wish you the best! Your work is beautiful ?

    1. You are so sweet! it really is such a hard decision. But you’ll know when it’s right, you’ll just feel it in your gut!! This sounds so cheesy, but follow your heart and don’t listen to any doubts in your head <3 my brain is still trying to tell me I’m crazy for doing this, but I know it’s the right thing for me 🙂

  5. I am in the same exact situation as you are. I am a radiologic technologist, and have worked at a local hospital for the last 13 years. I carry our family’s health insurance (my husband is a sub-contractor), and feel my income is “my” security.
    Back-track 7 years. My twin sister made cakes for a long time. Where I worked, people would always order cakes through me, from her. She got Re-married and quit making cakes. People still wanted them, and would say “You all are twins, surely you can make cakes too”….after some coaxing, my first cake was a “Justin Bieber” cake for my nieces 10th bday! From there, it was on!!

    I am a completely self-taught baker. I have taken no formal classes or education. I immersed myself in blogs and videos…anything that would teach me more! I NEVER thought, in a million years, I would be where I am today in my cake business. It has been a “live and learn”, “Touch and go” situation when learning how to make cakes (when I literally only knew how to make a boxed cake mix ?)! God has been SO good to my little family. He has allowed us to have extra income when my husband’s contract work slows down. For travel baseball teams. For new baseball bats. That Coach purse I’ve been eyeing ?, as well as extra income when needed for everyday living expenses.

    I have made cakes that have been taken all over the state of KY, and surrounding states! Almost everywhere I go, someone mentions a cake or a piece of work they’ve seen of mine. With that being said, the entire cake business is hard work. It’s not something you can do just “some of the time”. It is hours of standing on your feet, returning messages and questions. Ordering what you need for that cake next week. Thinking about “Will I be off the weekend of that big wedding cake?” (As I still work occasional weekends at the hospital). My two boys are used to me standing in the kitchen all evening, after working a long shift at the hospital. All of their friends know their mommy makes cakes! Their teachers, apparently, count themselves lucky to have one of my boys as a student (they know that means cookies, cake pops, cupcakes and cakes at random and on holidays)!!

    I have prayed for a long time for God to show me the way, To open my eyes when it’s time to take my business to the next level. I’m still waiting, and I know it’s in HIS time. ?.

    I am so happy for you and for taking that HUGE step!! It’s so hard for change and not knowing what’s coming next. I’m sure you’ll do GREAT!!! Congrats!

    1. I totally understand where you’re coming from. So few people truly understand how hard it is taking cake orders…it’s so much more than just making a cake! And I love that you’ve learned as you went, that’s how I still feel to this day! it’s like, will this work? Idk but I’m going to find out!!!

      You sound like an incredible baker, and like you’re on an upward trajectory! I wish you the best of luck with your baking business <3 And thank you for your support!!!

  6. Chelsey, keep your CPA license active and should you ever “get bored” with this exciting twist in careers, there’ll be many other opportunities. Wishing you continued success! DeAnna

  7. So excited for you! I am a cpa too and worked at one of the big four for 4 years, my last day of work is this Monday. I’m staying home with my baby girl and working on a certain baking project.

  8. Congratulations! I literally just started by own side business last week and have set some high goals to be able to quit my day job. I am excited, i’m Nervous, but I also know it’s going to be hard work! Best of luck!

    1. that’s awesome!! Knowing it’s going to be hard work, and you setting solid goals for yourself is half the battle 🙂 Best of luck with your side business!!! And thank you!

  9. Chelsey- as someone who has been following you for about a year, I wanted to congratulate you and tell you how happy I am for you!! I can’t imagine how hard it was for you to decide to leave behind something you worked towards for years. Plus leaving behind an office with awesome coworkers and managers couldn’t have been easy.

    But, as others have alluded to- just look at the wording you chose in this post. You refer to finance as your career, but to baking as your passion! Now you’ll have the chance to surround yourself with people who share your passion- and I’m sure that will be an incredibly rewarding environment. (Plus your finance skills will definitely come in handy as a self-employed person!)

    You’ve clearly made the right choice. I’m looking forward to the content you’ll put out now that you’re fully dedicated to pursuing your dreams!! Best wishes!

    1. Thank you Maggie! That is a great point; baking is definitely my passion 🙂 You are so sweet, I really appreciate your support!!

  10. You bless a lot of people with your videos and baking tips and blog. Your sweetness just shines through. You will be blessed by being a blessing. No worries. Fear is a liar.

  11. Congratulations Chelsea! I will look forward to seeing your videos more frequently, and am sure that your creative life will over shine your corporate one in due time. I can totally see you with your own show on Food Network!!!

    1. Thank you Vicki! I am so excited to see what I come up with this year, now that I’ll have a little more time to think about things 🙂 And maybe one day, a girl can dream!!!

  12. Congratulations! This is so inspiring to read. As a homebaker who works full time and is trying to grow my business and social media presence this is amazing. I look forward to fulfilling my passion and hopefully following in your footsteps!

    1. Thanks Rachel!! You really can achieve anything you set your mind to! All it takes is a little (or A LOT!) of hard work. That’s what I’ve always told myself 🙂 Best of luck with your baking business!!

  13. Congratulations on this new path of your journey! It is exciting to hear about how you made this decision. You have such great cake ideas and make everything look so easy and you are so encouraging to others to give it a try especially with all of your tips and how to do it. Good luck!

    1. Thank you Mavis! That’s the goal, hoping I can inspire others to bake, and have them find the happiness I found in my kitchen 🙂

  14. I am super proud of you! I own and operate a small home based business (doesnt even remotely pay the bills lol) BUT i do enjoy it 🙂 trust your gut! its the best advice you can give yourself. our goal in life is to NOT WORK and get payed for it right? and if you love what you do…. you’ll never work another day in your life ;)….. now go make a cake and show me how much i suck at baking lol

    1. Hahahhahaha so true Roger!! Baking definitely doesn’t feel like work 🙂 I’ve got lots of fun cakes in store for you this year!! Stay tuned!

  15. Congratulations! I think it is a wonderful achievement that you have been able to make your hobby and passion as your main source of income! It’s something that I would love to do one day and I think why not do it if you can!! As you said with social media it seems like you are worried that when it fades out that your business will fade out but I really don’t think that is the case – you can always build on from here and combine your accounting knowledge with your baking and if worst comes to worst I’m sure you will have no trouble finding a job back in the corpate world. Congratulations again, I look forward to seeing more from you ?

Let me know what you think!