Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Dear Coach Joan
I’ve been, working for 10 years in a company that provides business-to-business services. I have great relationships with my management, customers and colleagues. And
I have been promoted several times. The problem is, I’ve reached my ceiling in terms of compensation and responsibilities.
And I feel the entrepreneurial bug! I want to go out on my own.
What kinds of things should I be considering before making the big move?
Susan in Santa Rosa
Congratulations on your successful 10 year run. You’ve clearly demonstrated a number of positive capabilities and skills to have earned several promotions and built strong relationships. That said, there are definitely considerations to make before going on on your own. Here are three essential dimensions of entrepreneurship to consider:
- The Resources: You have been accustomed to a regular paycheck. Your focus has been on doing the job and getting a very regular paycheck. Once you quit, the paychecks stop and that can be shocking and frightening. You need to consider how much money you have saved to carry you through a period of business building until you would once again have a regular income. People typically need to have at least 6 months of expenses saved. And benefits: Is your company providing your with health insurance and other benefits? Make sure to factor in those costs, too. Do you plan on taking out a business loan? Do you have a partner that you share income with? Look carefully at the consequences of leaving a regular paycheck behind.
- The Work: What exactly will you be providing to clients? You have to be very clear on what you service and value-add are. And exactly who is your target audience for these services and how will you reach them? You mentioned that you have good relationships with the current customers for the company. Do you plan on taking some of those customers with you as you go out on your own? This can potentially be a very sticky situation. In many industries you sign non-compete agreements which prevent you from taking customers away from your employer. Please check into that. If you have lined up other clients, that is great, and avoids any legal troubles. Several of my clients who were employees started to let their network know they’d be available independently and were able to line up contract opportunities before they gave notice with their employer. For instance, one woman was a marketing program manager and she had colleagues at other companies who needed to hire her services but the new clients were in companies that did not compete with the employer she was leaving.
- Your Professional Style: You mention that you have an entrepreneurial itch. Are you sure you have the skills and mindset needed to actually run a business on your own. Consider things like: working from home, alone or getting a shared space, self motivation, the lack of daily group interaction, the lack of management for guidance, structure and development. Many people who leave the corporate world also anticipate how they will: get the needed socializing, professional interaction, training and growth opportunities, building a network of shared professionals focused in a similar skill/industry area. Susan, it is wonderful that you are looking to move forward and grow as a professional! I do caution you that there are a lot of things to consider and manage in making a transition of that magnitude. You also want to make sure you have a support system for the ups and downs of running one’s own business. And you might want to consider engaging with a business coach or even a mentor who has gone the route you are considering. Please do some careful homework and research, and when the time is right and you are ready, GO FOR IT! As I always say: READINESS + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS All the best, Coach Joan