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  • Heidi Bender, 45, left her job in data management to run her thank-you note business full time.
  • She’s made almost her entire salary at IBM in less than a year and works less hours on her own.
  • Here’s how she worked out her finances and switched to entrepreneurship, as told to Robin Madell.

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Heidi Bender, a 45-year-old entrepreneur from Adrian, Michigan, about her career pivot from data management consultant at IBM to launching her own thank-you note business. It has been edited for length and clarity.

In March, I left my position as a data management consultant at IBM Watson Health making $78,400 a year to work on my website full time.

I started Tons of Thanks back in 2014. It helps people with thank-you note wording through examples and tips. I’ve since surpassed my IBM salary and am currently earning more money with the website while working fewer hours than I did at my day job – through the end of August this year, my website had already made $73,942 in ad revenue in 2021.

When I began the site, my goal was to leave my job in one year

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