Leaving a corporate job to start a business

Sacrifice. That’s a word that gets used a lot when talking about building a business of your own, and this is for a good reason. Leaving a career in the corporate sphere means one thing: sacrifice. No security, no benefits, no annual leave, no superannuation, little support. This is one of the biggest hurdles for successfully building a business after an extensive corporate career, and it keeps many from ever doing so. So why do people take the plunge, regardless?

There is some indefinable quality to owning your own business that drives individuals to make the plunge. It may simply come down to ‘being your own boss’, but it is more likely that those who have developed a career in corporate roles acquire a significant amount of skill, knowledge and people management abilities to be confident that owning their own business can be a challenge unlike anything they will encounter within a corporate role, and a challenge that can benefit from their years’ of experience.

The considerations and technical aspects of moving from the safety net to the big bad world of entrepreneurship are too large to list in full, so here are some of less considered aspects to the career shift that can help you succeed.

Expect and account for the lows

Success in a new business is never straightforward, and it never follows an unbroken trajectory. The initial months or even weeks may see you acquire clients/customers very quickly, giving you a false sense of success. Coming from a position within the corporate sector, it can be easy to assume that growth is natural and unbroken, as the goodwill and scale of the companies you may have worked for have provided you with the belief that growth is a given, as long as certain steps are taken.

Unfortunately, this is not the case when building your own business. For no good reason and for no fault of your own, your growth may suddenly dry up after a short time or take a long time to even show signs of appearing when first starting out. Account for the roller coaster ride that can be the initial stages of a new business as no business is self-sustainable from the start.

Now is the best time to do what you are doing

Working in a corporate role today does not necessarily mean what it once did. Underemployment has become a major aspect of our economy, even when unemployment rates fall, which means that job security and financial security become as much of a burden on workers’ mindsets as they would for someone building their own business.

This means there has never been a better time to build your own business. Governments and businesses have never been more supportive of entrepreneurs, aware that the diversification of the economy relies on small business owners. Knowing this may help reassure you that you are not necessarily swapping ‘security for risk’ in leaving your corporate career to start a business, you may, in fact, be building in more security for yourself (in fact, you almost certainly are). This knowledge breeds confidence, and this confidence will help you succeed.

Your constraints and goals are entirely up to you

KPIs are no longer set by your manager, but by you. It is a freedom worth enjoying, and what ‘being your own boss’ is all about. It also means that you don’t have to set yourself ridiculous targets, which you may struggle to meet. Building a business is hard as it is. Creating goals that do not align with the reasons why you left your corporate career is a sure way to shoot yourself in the foot.

With the knowledge that success in your new business will fluctuate, you can set yourself goals that reflect the lifestyle you want to pursue. In a corporate career, expectations are made of you, which means you can enjoy the freedom to not set your own goals, but live up to others’ expectations. However, this means you risk focusing on things like your own financial growth, rather than your career development. When starting your own business outside of a corporate career, you can shift your focus to incorporate other goals into your planning.

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