As you know, last year I quit my job, left the corporate world and decided it was time for me to work on something of my own. I felt it was the right time for me. I had enough experience to understand how business worked and I was also unmarried at the time with no children. I’m well aware that priorities in life change when you’re married and have children so I wanted to give it a go while this window of opportunity was still open. Now, I’m married 🙂 … and I’m sure that children will be on the cards in the next couple of years so the clock is ticking! 🙂
As I reflect on my final 6 months in the corporate world I realise that I could have approached the things I did much more effectively to really help me move towards where I want to go.
My final 6 months in the corporate world was a very turbulent time for me, both personally and professionally. I spent the vast majority of it very sick. I had glandular fever and, once recovered, I was soon back into hospital to have tonsillectomy (not a nice thing for anyone, particularly when you’re an adult!). I lost a lot of weight and at my lightest I was 69KGs. It was also very hard-going at work with massive changes taking place, both in my team and also in the organisation itself. Huge workloads and dealing with change is tough in the best of times, and when you’re unavailable to work for a lot of that time due to illness it can create a lot of stress.
At this time, I also had the idea of creating my own business and realised that it was the best time for me to do it.
However, because there was just so much going on in all aspects of my life I was feeling very burnt out.
I know there are a lot of people that read this who are currently working in a job and have an interest in starting their own business. This article is for you. Below, I share 3 things I wish I had done prior to quitting my job which I hope can serve you well.
1. Built Up My Business
When I quit my job and left the corporate world I hadn’t really started my business. I had plans in place and had done some work on the website but that was about it. I was lucky enough to get my first couple of clients in the first month through networking and some solid hustle, but it would have been a lot easier if I had the business up and running earlier with greater traffic coming through to my website (the business uses an online model… you can check it out here: Graduate Jobs Australia).
If I were to do it again, I would run the business in the background for at least 6 months. This would have allowed me to not only grow the business but to test the business. It would have allowed me to speak with potential customers and get their input, tailor my packages and provide a better solution off-the-bat. It would have also allowed me to maintain more of an income rather than going from a six-figure salary to a zero-figure salary.
I think with everything going on at work at the time and with my own ‘before marriage and kids’ clock running down I made a quick decision to leave.
Even now, just 9 months after leaving the corporate world, I’ve built up the business to have over 50,000 pageviews per month and over 2,000 users. I’ve also now got some good client success case-studies which will make it easier moving forward. It would have been better to be where I am now and go into it full-time at this stage of the business which would have helped maintain a better income.
2. Spoke More Openly with My Employer and Colleagues
I kept my ideas to myself at work. I didn’t want others to know that I was thinking about leaving. I believed that if I told others about my plans then this would then give them reason to believe that I was not committed to my job anymore.
However, when I look back on it I feel it would have been much wiser of me to speak more openly about my thoughts, ideas and plans.
My team and the people in my organisation were fantastic in supporting each other. For example, we encouraged and supported managers in helping them create development plans for their team members which would build the capabilities required to get the team member to where they wanted to go… whether that was inside the organisation or not.
We understood the needs and desires of individuals and did everything we could to support them.
Even with this knowledge and being a key driver of it myself because of my role in HR, I still didn’t feel comfortable talking openly about my own ideas and plans.
If I were to do it again, I would have spoken more openly with my manager about where I wanted to go and the timeframes I desired to do it within. Not only do I feel she would have fully supported me in making it happen, I also feel it could have led to some fantastic and really insightful discussions on the business and how it could operate.
What I’ve learned since being in business for myself is that the amount of support you have is critical. It can be lonely working for yourself but when you have others that support you it’s great to bounce ideas around and take things to another level. If I used my last 6 months in the corporate world more wisely and spoke more openly about my plans I could have built up more of a support network with my colleagues. The clients of my business are corporates (I deal with HR professionals) so my colleagues would have been perfect people to bounce ideas with.
3. Asked For a Sabbatical
By the time I resigned from the corporate world I was so burnt out and stressed out that I felt I just had to move out and start doing something of my own.
It wasn’t until I was actually in the process of resigning that I asked for a sabbatical and unfortunately, with the short time-frame of my departure thereafter, a sabbatical was unable to be granted.
However, if I had been more open about my plans upfront and asked for a one-year sabbatical to test and build the business then I’m sure, with some planning and timing, the company would have been fully supportive.
Even though I’m now working for myself, a sabbatical provides a bit of a safety net. If all was to go wrong in the first 12 months of business than I could have had an opportunity of employment again relatively easily if there were roles available.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you’re currently working in a job and thinking about starting your own business, I encourage you to take my lessons learned and try these 3 things out:
1) Start your business on the side while you’re still employed. Build it to a level where you know the business model is viable and where you are earning a regular income.
2) Tell others about your ideas and plans. Bounce ideas around, create a supportive network and plan for your transition into entrepreneurship well in advance.
3) Ask for a sabbatical. Give yourself a safety net and a ‘foot in the door’ to fall back on if you need it.
What Are You Currently Working On?
So, I’d love to hear more about your plans and what are you currently working on. Do you have a side business? Are you thinking about starting a business? What challenges have you faced in getting started in business?
I’d love to hear from you so please leave them in the comments!
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Found your site through contact with Steve Roy.
I love your stuff and specifically this article.
I hope you bring advice as good as your articles when my writing career starts in July.
Founder of Work For Work’s Sake
Well done on overcoming those challenges, remember when we caught up in 2010 (from memory) you were killing the corporate career..
Glad to see you’re better as well too, do you feel part of it was to do with not following something you are passionate about?
I am working on building up a graduate career coaching site. One of my big challenges is validating products and who the person the product will be sold to i.e. employers or graduates
Keep up the great work
This is another Fabulous post. I really recommend the first tip. The other two, I must confess, is harder. Like you properly note, they might start thinking you would not be really dedicated any longer. As for the third, It is is not always feasible.
Generally, I would say No 1 is totally up to you while the other two, you just do all you can and, as third party is involved. And we all know all third parties go sometimes.
Sorry, the last paragraph was a bit jumbled up. This is what I meant to write:
Generally, I would say No 1 is totally up to you while about the other two, you just do all you can and hope it works out fine, as third party is involved. And we all know how third parties go sometimes.
Great post Brendan. I wished I had read this before I left my job. At this point in time, I would have to agree with point number two. I wished I had done the same. I’m the type of person who likes to keep things to myself so it’s a habit that was a little hard to break at first. Now that networking is the forefront of my business, I wish I had picked that up earlier.
Nonetheless, leaving my job is one of the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done so no regrets there. Just happiness and simply uncovering more of it as the day goes by.
Thanks for the reminder! 🙂
Number 2 is the hardest from a psychological point of view… it’s hard to say to someone that you want to leave while also staying motivated to continue doing your current job but I do think it has it’s benefits.
Networking is the forefront of most businesses so indeed, it is so important to be able to talk openly about it!
Keep it up and I look forward to seeing where you go with your business!
Brendan, I am glad I came across this.
I am currently preparing to quit my job (September) and I must say everything you say rings true for me. My side income mostly will be coming from a non-online business. However, I do need to also make sure that it has stabilized. I recently started a blog but I won’t be waiting for that pick up before I get out.
As for being open about my quitting at work, I am guilty of being secretive. Same fear of people looking at me funny. Going to try to engage a few colleagues that are close to me.
I will be taking my vacation days (whole of July) towards my quitting time so I can get a whole month of experimenting with my new personal schedule. After that I will go back and finalize my resigning process. Now that you mention it, I do need to see about getting a sabbatical and I am thinking it might be possible for me.
Thank you for the timely insights. 🙂
Congrats on taking the plunge to leave your job! Great idea about engaging a few close colleagues. I’m sure you have the best judgement for your situation.
Good luck with getting everything sorted. I’d love to hear how you go!