Three Tips for Leaving Your Job to Start or Grow Your Business
Humans are social animals and are hard-wired to want to stay part of the pack. Throughout evolution our very survival relied on us being part of a close knit community. We hunted together, raised our children together and fought off predators together.
We are, and will always be, stronger together.
So what does this mean when you want to break out of the pack and go your own way?
Leaving your job or profession to start your own business, whether it’s in a similar or completely different field, will involve you navigating invisible social barriers you never thought existed.
In this episode I share three tips to help you navigate the sometimes tricky situation of going your own way.
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Podcast: Play In New Window
At the time of recording this episode it’s the start of 2020. A new year. A new decade!!
There’s a new energy that’s led to so many of us reflecting on where we are and where we want to go. I’ve found myself over the past few weeks reflecting on my true calling, where I want to focus my limited energy to make the biggest impact, and what work best aligns with my happiness and wellbeing goals.
And I know I’m not alone.
The announcement by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Megan Markle that they intend to step down from their position of senior royals to become financially independent and essentially go their own way has rocked the world.
No doubt for many reasons, including opinions that the decision and way the couple announced it is disrespectful to the Queen, self-absorbed and simply not what we expect from a prince, who not too long ago was third in line to the throne. He was born into a live of privilege and duty and a large portion of the public expect that he should fulfil this duty.
But on the flip side, why does it bother so many people that the couple want to go their own way, carve out a future as part time royals who are able to work and follow their passions, and step back from the media frenzy for a chance at happiness?
I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for the couple to first, make this decision and second, act on it.
Their situation reminded me of the time when I announced to my family that I was starting my first online business, Sustainababy, over ten years ago. I was unhappy in my engineering career and couldn’t see how I could juggle parenting a newborn baby with a senior role in a leading resources company, all while living in a tiny town in remote South Australia. So I created an alternative, an innovative online eco-parenting resource that supported parents to raise their children with the environment in mind. That business (that I ran from my loungeroom in this tiny in the desert) went on to win multiple state and national awards in innovation and sustainability, and put me in a position financially to easily resign from my engineering job at the end of my maternity leave.
It all sounds great now, but the process of telling my family and pulling away from my engineering tribe was difficult and very isolating.
One comment that still hurts was from a close family member who said “You’re a silly, silly girl to toss in your engineering.” At the time I’d worked in remote Australia for 11 years, in tough male-dominated work places and I’d completed my Master of Science in the evenings and weekends, while working full time. I’d worked incredibly hard to build a successful career and yet that career didn’t align with how I wanted my transition to motherhood to be. I was deeply unhappy and had very strong intuition that I needed to start my business and go my own way. The push was so strong that I couldn’t ignore it.
I showed my husband my business plan and he was fully supportive. Of course he could see the risks, but his opinion was that the risk of not starting my business and returning to engineering at the time was greater in regards to my health and happiness. His support was all that I needed and so I went for it.
But the break wasn’t easy. It was isolating and downright lonely at times. Furthermore while I had the support of my husband, I didn’t have the support of most of my family members (including my mother). This really hurt and I held a lot of anger around this for a long time that impacted my relationship with them.
I also didn’t surround myself initially with others on a similar journey. Mostly because I didn’t know any online entrepreneurs and the networks and coaching that is available now simply wasn’t available in 2009. I was in the first wave of online businesses and over time I became more lonely and isolated as a result, compounded by the fact I was working from home around my babies. The freedom and flexibility was perfect but my need for social interaction and support (i.e. being part of a tribe) wasn’t being met, which took a toll on my mental health. This improved in latter years after I joined a mastermind and found my tribe of entrepreneurial friends, but for a long time was really hard.
So if you’re thinking about leaving your profession to make your side hustle your main hustle, you’re ready to dive all in to your business, or you’re already all in with your business but are struggling with the aftermath of leaving the pack behind, these tips are for you.
Three Tips for Leaving Your Job to Start or Grow Your Business
1. Crunch Your Numbers
Deciding when to make the jump is a critical step in setting you up for success and for most of us, deciding when to jump comes down to if you can afford to take the jump financially.
Take the jump too soon and the pressure for you to perform and provide for yourself or your family may severely impact your wellbeing, with long term consequences like adrenal fatigue or burnout. Making business decisions from a place of financial stress and fear is never a good idea.
To minimise stress ideally stay in your job until your business can replace the income. You would typically need to make three times more income from a business for it to be worth the change.
The other factor to consider (and number to crunch) is time. Will leaving your job place too much pressure on you and make you sick OR will it create the gap for you to fill quickly with your real passion?
2. Plan Your Announcement
So you’ve crunched your numbers and have decided that you’re ready to jump. The next step is to announce your decision to those you wish to tell. This might be close family and friends and your employer.
Advising your family and employer face to face and before you announce anything on social media is strongly advised as a mark of basic courtesy and respect. Don’t be like Harry and Megan and announce on Instagram first! You’ll then be back-peddling to mend relationships.
You also don’t need to tell everyone everything that’s behind your decision to jump, but they will want to know why. Stick to why the move is important to you and simply ask them to respect your decision.
And recognise that your decision will trigger others.
This may be other colleagues who are unhappy in their roles and wish they could take the jump too, but are held back from fear. Or it could trigger an entire organisation which is likely if you’re a medical professional going your own way or royalty!
You may find, like in my case, that your close family don’t support your move, but try and see where their stance is coming from. My mother’s comments came from a place of deep love and concern. She saw how hard I had worked for many years to establish myself as a respected environmental engineer and the many sacrifices I had made (like moving away from my family to live in remote settings around Australia to build my career). She honestly believed I was throwing it all away and didn’t want me to make a big mistake. While I wanted her blessing more than anything in time I understood that she couldn’t give it initially out of her love and care for me.
3. Find Your New Tribe
The transition from an employee to entrepreneur / self employed will take time and the transition will be much smoother for you if you surround yourself with like-minded people. Tap into business support and mentoring services provided by your local Council, join free communities for entrepreneurs or invest in business coaching and/or join a business mastermind.
Building a business is a contact sport. You need your supporters. And in my experience, there’s no better supporters than those who are playing right alongside you. Switch your colleagues that you would have had in your job with other entrepreneurs building their businesses and you’ll be stronger together.
Mastermind buddies understand your world when your family and partner may not. When you join a mastermind you seriously upgrade your friend list with a group of positive friends with a growth mindset who will stand by you in the good and tough times of life and business.
If you’ve already made the jump and are focussed on growing or scaling your business, my Conscious Business Circle might be a good fit for you.
Going your own way and leaving your job to build your business can be a tough transition to make. By crunching your numbers before you take the leap, planning your announcement, accepting that your decision will trigger others and finding your new tribe you’ll be best placed to thrive on your new path.
Over To You!
How did you navigate the transition from employee to entrepreneur? Did you find it smooth sailing or did you miss the comradery and safety of your job? Were your family supportive? Share one lesson you’d pass onto others who are making the transition below!
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