How to Leave Your Job and Start a Business - Avoid These Mistakes!


So, today you got up, got dressed and went to work.  It’s not that you hate your job exactly, it’s just that it seems a drudge.  It doesn’t spark your spark anymore.  You’re longing for something different.  You want to go from 9 – 5 to freedom.

So, you’ve formulated a plan – you’re going to quit your job and start your own business.  Well, before you put your plan in action, make sure you avoid these mistakes.

Telling everyone before you tell your boss.

Sure you’re excited, and you want to share – especially with your work friends.  Besides, they understand you, you’re buds, they won’t tell anybody – right?

OK – all together now – WRONG!  Your friends may not mean to spill the beans, but you know what Benjamin Franklin said – three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.  Someone will let something slip, or worse yet – they’ll only tell David.  You know David, he’s one of their besties – and he’ll absolutely keep it confidential.  Besides, he was so HAPPY for you!

Then it’s just a short hop skip and a jump from David to Sheila, and then from Sheila to Angela and before you know it, your boss is calling you into her office asking if you’re thinking of leaving.

Again, no one meant to tell your secret – but with people, it just happens, you can count on it.  So, talk to your family, or your non work friends if you want, but keep the secret to yourself at work, at least until you’re ready to talk to your boss.  If she finds out some other way, it can feel really disrespectful, and set the stage for a not smooth transition.

And speaking of transitions, the next mistake is failing to prep for the transition.  Your company may not have someone new in place for you to train before you leave – by the way, if they do, be really diligent and thorough in training them.  But if there’s no one to train, make sure you write down your processes, or create checklists around how you do your job.  It’ll really help the new person, it’s a nice thing to do, it’s great for your reputation, and it goes a long way in making sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

Now, along with prepping for the transition, make sure you don’t start to slack off on your responsibilities.  You’re still employed, remember – you have a job to do, the company and your co-workers are counting on you and your skills.  If you start missing deadlines, or submitting poorly drafted reports, or showing up late everyday – it’s just not a good look.  End strong, make sure they’ll miss you when you’re gone.

Now, I shouldn’t have to say this – but I’m sad to say – it comes up too often.

… three can keep a secret.  If two of them are dead.  Benjamin Franklin

Don’t take things.

And when I say don’t take things, I mean all sorts of things. Usually people think about things like office supplies (and no, you shouldn’t take them either – and you definitely shouldn’t use company supplies or equipment to work on your new business).  But it goes beyond office supplies.  Don’t take confidential company information either – like customer lists.  In fact, usually something like a client list, or proprietary company formula or process is legally protected as well.  It’s even possible that the company had you sign a confidentiality agreement.  I know – that was probably way back in the day – who remembers.  Well, the company will – and they’ll be happy to produce said agreement should you violate its terms.  Actually, you know it’s not a bad idea to ask for a copy of all signed agreements in your file – just so you have them for your records as well.

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Now, what’s that you say?  This all seems like a lot of trouble, and WORK, especially when you’re leaving anyway.

Well consider this entrepreneur less #1 – Don’t Burn Your Bridges.

As an entrepreneur you’ll find that opportunities can come at you from all sorts of unexpected directions.

For instance, have you thought about asking your current company to invest, support or even incubate your new business?  I know of companies that started just this way.  When the founder went to their boss to resign, it turned into a discussion about their new business, and ultimately the company made a small investment.  Well, I should say it was a small investment to them, but it was HUGE to the fledging business.  And it made all the difference in the early years.

Or, it’s possible your old company will become your first customer, or largest customer, or both.  Again, you just never know.  So the first thing to keep in mind as an entrepreneur – is to keep all avenues open, because you never know which one is going to deliver – for you and your business.

So, say thank you, be gracious, be helpful in the transition.  Continue to be dependable.  Don’t rub your new venture in your co-worker’s faces. Don’t bad mouth the company or your boss.

Keep all those bridges firmly in place.  In fact, polish them up a bit.  You may need them later.  And even if you don’t, setting them on fire just isn’t a good idea – or a good look.

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