As a business growth partner and strategist, a big part of what I do is help women build an economic bridge of freedom from their corporate lives to starting their own businesses. Usually the first step for them is a consulting business of some kind, although personal development coaching is a significant choice many are opting for as well. Anyone who works with me usually starts with a discovery call so we can figure out if a) we have the right chemistry together to accomplish ridiculously amazing things; b) whether their dream business is something I legitimately can (and want to) help launch; and c) whether starting a business IS the right choice, or if a different job, or different role is the best option. In short, nobody who calls me is super happy with their current situation, and our first encounter is figuring out what makes the best sense. Often people will ask me some version of this question; ‘Should I just quit my job and go for it, or should I launch my business in stealth mode and then quit when it starts to grow?’ So I thought I’d take some time today to look at the answer to this question, and why my answer may not be what you think.
First, you should be aware that there is a ‘sales script’ perfect answer to this question that I never use but have had applied very persuasively on me before. It’s a pretty basic formula and it goes something like this. Step 1. Find out all the things you WANT if you start your own business. Step 2. Find out all the terrible, sad, painful realities of NOT starting your own business. Step 3. Convince you that unless you invest in my program (TODAY because limited supply will add to your anxiety) you will NEVER have the things you want and the things you don’t want will heap misery on your head until you wish you had never been born. Step 4. Get your credit card immediately. So should you quit? Of course! You buying my course today will solve all your problems and if you don’t see this and invest, then you probably secretly hate yourself and don’t believe in yourself and you’ll never be successful and if you need to ask your partner you’re a big weenie.
Now…if you’ve had this done to you I know 2 things. One, it wasn’t by me and two, you deserve better. On behalf of the coaching profession, I apologize that that was done to you. Coaching and mentoring is a beautiful and powerful process that, like anything beautiful and powerful, can be misused and when it is it feels violating, intrusive, and abusive. A good coach WILL encourage you to stand for yourself and invest in yourself when it’s the right time and opportunity, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes someone really does want to say yes and wants reasons…that’s much different than a 1-2-3 emotional hijack.
Now, there are some GREAT reasons to quit your job and start your own business. Here are some of the best ones:
- You know that you know that you know that you were called to do this. You’ve maybe NEVER been satisfied working for other people. Maybe you’ve worked for yourself before so you understand the challenges and are eager to take them on. Maybe it’s just time, and you have that peace in your heart that another job is NOT the right move.
- You are motivated TO as well as FROM. We’ve all had bad work experiences. Maybe it was that toxic boss, gossipy co-workers, horrific commute, non-stop politics, meaningless work, inefficiencies. Yes, I could go on and on. Bad jobs are great teachers. They teach us what we don’t want and what we won’t tolerate. I do think though, that if escaping bad is your only motivation, you should probably give it some more thought. Do you have a vision for the good you’ll have if you do start? Are you aching to step out into your own power, using your own gifts, kicking butt and facilitating transformational changes for companies or individuals? Resentment can only fuel you so far. I encourage you to have a strong positive WHY before making the leap.
- You have some financial runway. As I’ve mentioned before, business consulting does not take a lot of capital to launch. All you really need is your expertise, a phone, and a computer. But if you’re going to miss your mortgage payment if you don’t get clients right away AND you have a steady job, well…that’s a lot of pressure. I don’t know anyone who makes good decisions out of fear so consider what will enable you to get to your goals fastest.
- You have a network. You don’t need a huge network to get started, but if you’ve in seclusion at your job to the extent where you really don’t have any meaningful LinkedIn or real life business or social media connections, that might be something to work on before you make the jump.
- You have proof of concept or at least a good idea of the market enough to know your business idea will land solidly. This can come from having done some freelance projects in the past, or just having consistently knocked it out of the park at your job or your networking events. Maybe you just have a bunch of contacts who have flat-out TOLD you that you should be doing this on your own and they would hire you if you were. If you have some legitimate reasons to believe your services are something people will readily pay for, I’m for one a lot more likely to endorse the ‘just quit’ model of starting up.
If you have a job, and want to start your own business and having read this far has felt like someone just pulled the plug on your dreams because you maybe don’t have all of the above, remember…you don’t need my permission or anyone else’s to start whenever you want! There are times when the right path makes no logical sense but it’s still the right thing. If that’s you, and you’re a praying or meditating person, then get quiet and look for direction on your next steps.
We have the idea that staying in our job and doing a ‘soft launch’ is the safer way. Many times it can be. For example, as I mentioned above, you won’t have the same financial fear nagging at you if you have a backup job. Actually, that’s about the only good reason to soft launch. I know for me, having that well-paying job as back-up meant I never felt the urgency to make it happen. Going through a layoff at the worst possible time in the world and facing financial devastation if I wasn’t successful lit a fire under me like nothing else. I really want to think I would have leapt out of the nest eventually, but I wonder. Be that as it may, it’s always nicer not to have to worry about money, and sometimes dreams do have to be put on hold if chasing them will literally endanger your family or your own basic food and shelter needs.
As cliché as it sounds, every situation really is unique. Some people have a lot of PTO and the ability to use it, and their consulting allows them a lot of virtual work with some schedule-able face time with the client. Some people have a lot of flexibility within their jobs so that it’s feasible to do the legwork while you’re employed. Other people are literally on the go for 9 to 10 hours a day in their day job, or their business model requires a lot of on-site time with their clients.
There really are so many variables. I know my tolerance for risk went from a negative, as in I didn’t even like spending money when I had a full-time job, to ‘YES! Life is too short!! Go for it!!’ But that’s because I have learned that when you step out in good faith, and you know that you know that you know this is right, and you’ve prayed about it, and the people who love you are on board (or at least don’t see red flags), and you have a passion and you need to start using it…I know that when all those are in place, everything will work itself out. Maybe not how WE exactly think it should, but it will. So yeah, if it were up to me, I’d tell you heck yeah! Go!
But I’m not the one who has to live in your head and in your life. You are. So I really can’t answer that for you. I’ve learned that when people ask me if they should just do it, I know that they really want to and they want that extra reassurance. I can reassure people that their business idea seems solid. I can tell them from my experience whether their particular niche has been an historically successful one. But I have to be careful as a coach because I don’t want to talk you into something you’re not ready for, even if I KNOW you’re sitting on a gold mine and you NEED to do this!! I can encourage, but I can’t push you because I want you 100% enrolled in YOU. Otherwise, it will create an unhealthy dependency on me to be the wind beneath your wings, and although I totally will be, if I’m doing my job right it’s like parenting, with the goal to make you self sufficient.
If you’re not tied to a 9-5 right now and you have that desire, my answer is usually an emphatic YES!! Let’s do it.
If you do have a 9-5 job…should you quit your job and go for it? What do you think?
Carrie Maldonado is a successful consultant, coach, writer, and wife...and three of her favorite people call her Mommy. Life is ridiculously amazing...but that wasn't always the case. Carrie can be reached for consultation here, and her video about getting started in consulting can be found here.