It’s time. You know you’re ready to leap into self-employment full-time.
For me, that was the easy part. What wasn’t so easy was figuring out how to leave well. I was terrified and overwhelmed.
Of course, I had some healthy fear about self-employment. Would my business continue to make money? Would I be able to find new clients? Would I go stir crazy at home alone all day?
But I was also really intimidated at the idea of actually quitting. Of walking into my boss’ office and saying the words: “I’m leaving.”
As frightening as it was, I did it. (And I’ve been super happy ever since!) But if you’re at that point, you may be in need of some support & direction. So here are a few suggestions for how to leave your day job:
1. FOLLOW CONVENTION
Be sure to do the expected thing here. Ask for a sit-down meeting with your supervisor. At the meeting, give your notice. At least 2 weeks in advance is preferable, and be sure to give him/her a resignation letter. Be sure to show up to that meeting on time and show gratitude for the opportunities you had with the company. And don’t forget to offer suggestions for how you can help with the transition. (This is in lieu of saying “Tell me if there’s anything I can do,” or “Call me.” When you leave, be gone. When you offer suggestions, you’re taking charge – rather than leaving an unfinished situation where there’s potential that they’ll call for free help after your final day with them.)
2. STAND YOUR GROUND
During or after your sit down meeting, people may feel comfortable sharing their true thoughts with you. They might tell you it’s crazy to start your own business. Or they might say they don’t believe in the idea and that it won’t work.
They may also try to entice you to stay. This is what happened to me. I was offered a promotion after I resigned.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t leave my day job because I disliked it. I left because I was drawn so intensely to the idea of being my own boss. The fact that I liked my job made what happened after my resignation all the more difficult.
So now I was standing at a crossroads – leap into the unknown, or stay where it’s safe with work I enjoy. And I spent a lot of energy in several follow up meetings feeling at a loss for words. I was struggling to explain, to these really amazing people, why I was leaving. And the team just didn’t understand the draw of self-employment.
Regardless of what happens after your initial meeting, just remember to stand strong. If you’ve decided to leap, then don’t spend energy trying to convince others of the merits of entrepreneurship.
3. CALM YOUR FEARS BY HAVING A PLAN
It will make it so much easier to stand your ground if you feel confident in your plans. Maybe you’ve chosen a quit date and you’re holding yourself accountable to leaving by then. Or maybe you’ve chosen a financial number and you’ll leap when your business gets there. Either way, planning will make the transition better.
4. WRAP UP LOOSE ENDS
This is a key part to leaving well. Finish up outstanding projects or hand them over to the appropriate colleagues. Get to inbox zero. Clean off your desk. Leave a manual if there are parts of your job only you know how to do. Basically, here’s what you don’t want to do: Resign and spend the next 2 weeks taking extra long lunches, secretly working on your side hustle and having in depth conversations at the water cooler about reality TV.
DON’T BURN BRIDGES
Once you leave, know this: it’s okay to celebrate, but don’t bad mouth. You can blog about how and why you left, but don’t speak poorly about your former place of employment. Be respectful and show gratitude for what it gave you. And maybe how it fit into that season of your life. Not only is it just good form, but you never know – maybe they’ll hire you as a contractor for them later!
It’s hard work making it to the leaping point. But with a little bit of preparation, you’ll feel more confident when you finally do resign. You’ll be able to walk away from your 9 to 5 with clear brain space. That will make you better available to your clients, and it means you’ll be able to hit the ground running on day one as a self-employed person