9 tips for waving goodbye to corporate life

You have finally done it. The years of working in a corporate environment have helped you build the skills to get you to where you are now. The corporate world has so much to offer. Skills in relationship and time management, goal setting, process development, strategy, financial management. All of these things relate to building your own business. So, now that you have your business idea (or you may not have one yet) it is time to think about how you will manage the transition from corporate life to owning your own business.

1. Plan ahead

Even if you do not have a clear idea of what you will do once you leave your job, you can still plan things like your finances and living situation. Plan avenues you can follow that will help you make the transition. One such avenue is sounding out your boss to see how supportive they are of you moving on. A supportive work environment will make the move that much easier and is an established network you may be able to use once working on your own.

2. Lay the first stone

Having one client that you can rely on once you leave your corporate job may be the security, or sense of security, you need to make the plunge.

3. Manage your handover

You need to define your ending within corporate life. Establish a clear date with your boss at which point you either step back from certain duties or from the job as a whole. This also means creating dates in which the handover process is signposted. That is a corporate way of saying that the person replacing you needs to show that they can do your various roles by certain points of time during the transition period. This stops you from getting caught in the role for longer than is needed.

4. Back yourself

The period of time between leaving your corporate job to owning your own business will be one of the most challenging and confronting periods of your life. Back yourself. You have the skills and experience to achieve your goals. But don’t let your confidence give way to arrogance. Listen to the advice and critiques of others.

5. Seek a mentor

A mentor, whether someone you already know or someone you pay for advice, can help you in a range of ways. You may just need support in this transition period or a source of advice for the entire process. Check out our tips on finding a mentor here.

6. Beware the wall

An athlete pushes themselves to the point where they feel like they cannot go on any further, until they do. Lactic acid builds up in their limbs so that it feels like they are lifting slabs of concrete with each step but they persevere. This is called breaking through the wall. You will face an identical wall when the stresses of owning your own business challenge your self-belief. The first step to scaling this wall is to know that it exists and be able to identify it when it appears. Reading up on business management and having healthy relationships that you can rely on for communicating the challenges you face will help you get your legs over the top.

7. Invest in yourself

Before having left your job, invest in your weaknesses. If your current corporate job can help you strengthen your weaknesses, use these resources. Otherwise, seek outside training while you have the financial safety net. This can be in whatever area you feel lacking: financial management, leadership, self-confidence, businesses management, etc.

If you’re unsure of what skills you’re lacking, ask your mentor or current boss for guidance. There may be some obviously holes in your knowledge that you’re just not aware of.

8. Prepare for questions

Get ready for it. The employment market is hard enough to move around in as it is and you’re leaving? Are you mad? This is probably one reaction you’ll get when in the elevator, in the office kitchen or just about every other moment following your announcement to the company. Be aware that you will deal with both enquiries, jealousy, admiration and praise. Make it easier for yourself by being aware that people will have their own emotions and that their questions probably come from their own insecurities or curiosity. Avoid getting instantly defensive if someone challenges your decision. Instead, prepare a response to the sorts of questions you expect, the most common of which being, “Why?” If you can’t answer that then you may need to reassess. Your answer may simply be “I want to push myself beyond anything I’ve experienced” and that should be good enough for anyone who asks.

9. Give yourself time

There are too many articles and studies about how long it takes to form and break habits. Just be aware that the period immediately following your job will be the most difficult because you will have habits (getting up for the train) that you need to break. And there will be habits you need to form. Even if you take months to compose yourself and travel, that’s ok. Give yourself at least a year to pursue your business ownership goals before returning back to the corporate world.

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