October is a season for change, which is why I think it appropriate to share with you the story of a friend of mine who is considering changing careers. His story, I think, is a fairly common one: he works for a small company, is grateful for the opportunity they gave him when they hired him several years ago, but now thinks that they are not giving him the support he needs in order to do his job effectively. He feels as though he is constantly being asked to do more with less (or more with ‘not more,’ which is probably closer to the truth), and he’s starting to think more and more about the potential upside of becoming his own boss.
We had a long conversation the other day, and it occurs to me that a lot of people might be in a similar situation. So if you’ve ever thought about starting a new venture (whether that involves leaving a current employer or simply starting your own business from scratch), here are a few things to consider:
Work Up a Budget – And Plan for Unexpected Expenses
I was a carpenter’s helper in college, and the best thing I learned at that job was that things will always cost more and take longer than you expect them to. Your start-up costs will include rent, equipment, marketing and advertising, labor (because you honestly shouldn’t even try to do everything yourself), and you’ll need to account for that as best as possible ahead of time. Since perfect expense accounting is nearly impossible, I recommend taking your projected expenses and then increasing them up 20%. That should give you a decent cushion for whatever unexpected costs pop up.
Figure Out How Much Business You Can Bring With You
A lot of consultants start their own businesses by bringing a few clients with them when they leave their employer. If you’re in a similar position, ask some of your business contacts how many of them would come with you if you went out on your own. If you’re not in that position, the most common way to build a new career is to take on some freelance work until the amount of it reaches a critical mass. And no, you don’t need to tell anyone that you’re doing it, which leads me to our final point…
If You Are Planning To Leave Your Employer, Don’t Expect It To Be Pretty
If you’ve ever broken up with anyone who didn’t want to break up with you, then you’ll know the truth of this. The best you can hope for is that your current employer will respect your decision but not necessarily be happy about it. And they shouldn’t be, since your departure means they’ll have to do some work to replace you. But if your departure means that you’ll be hurting your employer’s business (and if you’re good at your job, chances are that will be the case), then you can’t expect them to be happy that you’re causing them a problem. If you wait until everyone agrees that it’s time for you to leave, you very well might wait forever. If instead you’re willing to power through that difficult moment, you’ll be able to put yourself where you want to be – either with another company or at the head of your own enterprise.
Making major changes like this often involve a healthy amount of discomfort. But comfort is overrated. I mean, you know what I do whenever I’m extremely comfortable? I usually fall asleep. And if I did that all the time – like, literally, all the time – then I’d basically be dead.
I feel like business articles shouldn’t end with the word ‘dead,’ but it’s October. It’s Halloween time. So I’m doing it. Dead!!!!