According to the many entrepreneurs I have interviewed, the leading cause of stress and fear when someone is starting over or changing careers is not having a solid, detailed plan.
Imagine this: It’s Friday. You just quit your job. Monday morning rolls around and you’re not sure how to start the first day of your entrepreneurial life. That’s stressful!
Imagine instead, that you had a detailed plan and everything was already in place. You know exactly what to do the first day your business is open. Sounds better, right?
One of the best ways to uncover what needs to be included in your plan is to learn the details of the business from another business similar to the one that you are starting. It’s also a great place to practice the skills you will use in your new business.
Back in my corporate days, I did not realize what a gift it was when the company invited me in to be a guest speaker during their training seminars. Initially, I resented that they pulled me out of my territory to perform an additional task for which I would not be compensated. Little did I know that this inconvenience was the training ground for what my business would be in the years to come.
While it seemed onerous at the time, the training director always insisted on going over every detail of an upcoming seminar with me. He did this of course, so I would know the context of the training and how to integrate what I would be speaking about. Essentially, the head trainer was providing me with a template that I would use in my business many years later, even though I did not know it at the time.
As you plan on moving to a different job or having your own business, you will no doubt be using skills that you picked up during your working career. Before you jump ship though, ask yourself, “What can I learn at my current job that will benefit me in the future?”
For example, let’s say you’re worried about obtaining customers and marketing your business. How does your current company obtain customers? You can observe the process and engage those involved in meaningful conversations. Remember, your goal is not to copy exactly what your current company is doing, but to look for ideas and processes that are transferable to the business you have in mind. If you’re planning on competing with your company when you leave, be very careful not to copy anything or take anything proprietary. That would be unethical and it could possibly land you into legal trouble. You’re looking to learn general business principles that you can apply. Make sure you don’t steal any ideas that can be construed as industrial espionage.
It is my belief that you should do everything possible to leave your current job on good terms. One of the best ways to do this is to go out of your way to do the best job possible before you leave. If you can give your employer enough notice to hire your replacement and then spend time training that replacement, it will go a long way towards building good will. This can pay off handsomely by leaving the doors open for you to use your former employer as a referral and possibly even to do some consulting work with your old company. Too many people burn bridges when they leave. Try instead to build one.
Think of your current job as the training ground for your next career. Make sure you pay your tuition by doing the best job possible. And before you turn in your resignation, create a solid plan and know how to implement it. Do this and you’ll get a better night’s sleep once you open your own shop or move onto your next career.