Leaving the comfort of a secure paycheck to launch your dream business can be terrifying. You're not just facing the possible loss of money, time, and stability, but also the risk of embarrassment, failure, and a possible white-flag retreat to the very place from which you came.
To make hard even harder, you have to quit your job. A very direct decision of confidence and implications that require bravery, boldness, and belief in what you're doing.
But on the flipside, having a career you hate can feel like a death sentence to your happiness.
We spend a majority of our lives working. 47 years to be exact. That's 12,190 eight-hour days. It's a stubborn truth that needs a dead-on stare. It's a truth which leads us toward two options:
We can build our dream or we can be hired by someone else to build theirs.
As individuals, we must decide what type of person we are. Do you have a dream burning a mountain-sized hole in your soul? Something you feel called to, pulled to, and almost irresponsible to if you decided to ignore it?
Are you passionate about something? I'm not talking about what excites you either; I'm talking about an idea or vision so deeply embedded into your heart that you're willing to suffer to see its success.
If you're nodding your head, then this article will help you. If your work life has been stripped of joy and excitement, then this article is for you. If you're ready to leave well and make a calculated leap toward self-employment, then this article is for you.
Quitting your job with wisdom is a delicate balance, but building a business and a plan that's qualified to replace the security and income of your former career is an art. Below I have provided three simple steps for you to consider.
1. Never sink your ship when you're too far to swim.
More often than not, aspiring entrepreneurs ditch their job too early. In my experience, people should view their career as the boat to carry them safely to their startup. If that boat sinks too early, you might drown. If that boat crashes into the dock, your startup might fall apart.
But the key takeaway is: Spontaneity without wisdom is reckless.
You might be thinking, "Well...what qualifies me to sink my ship?" I've helped over 2,000 people start their own business. My general recommendation for safely quitting is made up of three elements.
- An extensive and vetted business plan (discussed below)
- Four months of personal expenses in savings
- 100% of your businesses startup costs in savings
For example, if your personal expenses are $3,000 per month, I recommend having $12,000 in savings plus a $1,000 emergency fund. Let's just say you're hoping to launch a creative agency. Your well researched, thoroughly thought through, 10-25 page business plan (again...more details below) calls for a certain number of marketing dollars to earn new clients. It also calls for a new website and video, and a new laptop and a few office supplies for a total of $5,500. It's my opinion that if you have the total $18,500.00 (personal expenses + emergency fund + startup costs), it's a great time to sink your ship safely.
2. Never burn bridges you'll likely cross again.
Quitting well is an art of emotional maturity. While it may be difficult to view your unpleasant job in a respectful manner, the way you leave should feel like you do. Again and again, I witness people not only sink their ship, but also light it on fire.
Good judgment has always taught me to resist the urge to burn bridges. To put down the torch and lower your pitchfork.
Relationships are important, and the ones you don’t think you’ll ever need again, you often do.
When leaving, treat your boss how you would want one of your future employees to treat you. When the time is right, the plan is set, ask for a meeting with your supervisor. While the standard is "two weeks notice" for resignation, I suggest giving your employer 30 days.
As for your reasoning, there’s no need to make-up excuses or stories about why you’re leaving. Be transparent about your decision. Offering constructive criticism that may help your employer to begin implementing changes in the workplace. But generally, it is better to give your notice unless specifically asked for your opinion merely.
At the same time, even if you are asked for your opinion unless you’re legally bound, you don’t have to go into the specifics of your decision for leaving. Furthermore, avoid venting frustrations about the company, colleagues, or your supervisor. Take a diplomatic approach that can leave the door open for a possible referral or even your return at a later date.
But most importantly, don't take the hate for your job into your new venture. Leave whatever bitterness or relational strife you may have behind. The journey you're about to embark on will require a healthy mind unencumbered by the weight of a petty past.
3. Unprepared climbers never reach the top.
Hating to work for someone else doesn’t make you capable of working for yourself, but it does make you qualified to try. And I'm in the business of giving people who try, the best chance at success.
Over the years, I've related starting a business to planning an expedition up Mount Everest. It costs over $25,000 per attempt, it requires over 500 hours of training, one year of planning, and only 49% of climbers reach the summit.
Since 2005, I've launched eight businesses producing over $25,000,000 in revenue. I've written a Wall Street Journal bestselling business book, and I'm a trusted advisor to brands like Adobe, Facebook, Panasonic, Chick-fil-a, and The Ritz-Carlton.
I've failed and succeeded. I've been embarrassed and proud. But if I had to narrow down the thousands of decisions and tasks required to launch a successful business, it would be these:
1. Clarity Through Conversation
I laugh at people who think if they share their idea, someone will steal it. As you'll quickly learn, ideas are cheap. Execution is expensive. The first step and the most efficient way to refine a business idea is to share it with 25 people. Yes, have 25 thirty-to-sixty minute conversations. Get detailed with people. Let them blow holes in your framework and press against your conclusions.
I can't tell you how many incredible ideas and brilliant pivots have birthed out of my personal conversations with friends, family, and strangers. Remember, it's always cheaper to let a questionable idea die than it is to let your pride push you into launching with an idea not strong enough make it.
2. A Better Chance Begins With This...
Years ago, a study a by Clemson University proved a comprehensive business plan provided an entrepreneur with a 250% increased chance of going into business. Most people are confused about business plans. They believe they're only for attracting investors or borrowing money from banks. However, the purpose of a business plan is to cause the proprietor (you) to understand the details of the business intricately. If done correctly, it becomes an extraordinary experience of preparation you can't manufacture any other way.
While there are hundreds of ways to write a business plan, I've written a variety of articles and podcasts on the topic that can help you get started. I also provide a more detailed solution for you below.
3. Start Date & End Date
A dream without a deadline is merely a wish. Sitting around for months contemplating your vision is often a passive tactic to avoid commitment. But need I remind you that you're not getting any younger. Today isn't a rehearsal. This is your life. For that reason, let this article be your formal permission to set the date in which you'll quit your job and start your dream.
But like pancakes, this point has two sides. While it's the utmost importance to establish your dream date, it's of equal significance to designate an end date. A date on which, in maturity and wisdom, you can say, "This isn't working." A decision based on an absolute inability to meet the demands of your personal survival. As you may know, I am a firm believer in starting businesses without debt. Living on credit cards and personal loans has a pretty brutal track record for burying its victims.
Similar to Mount Everest, there's a moment when the leader says, "It's time to start. Let's leave in the morning" and in some instances, the shrewdness to say, "It's not safe. We're not going to make it. Let's turn back." Having the courage to define both of these dates, the metrics which support them, and the discipline required to stand by them isn't easy, but it's the fastest way to the top.
Looking back on those I've helped quit their career and chase their calling, the average timeframe is 3-9 months. From idea and organizing finances to educating themselves and full-blown charge up the mountain. Although I've seen a variety of successful businesses launched in shorter periods, this timeframe is where I default.
If you're someone who has a dream, a business idea, or blog concept but just don’t know where to begin, let me help you. Over 2,000 students have turned their passion into a profession with my 12-month, go-at-your-own-pace entrepreneurship curriculum. This isn't a get rich quick scheme; rather it's an affordable alternative to business school or the typical "guess your way to success" program that leads people to failure. If you're interested in learning more, consider my video below.
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