It’s been just over a year since I left steady employment in corporate America, jumped off a cliff and launched a podcasting start-up. My work is now more exciting and purposeful, but at times I’ve been scared and uncertain about what to do next.
There’ve been some painful mistakes that I don’t want others to make. So here are five things that I learned about making the switch:
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do as much as you can before quitting your corporate job to get ready for the future. Talk to an accountant or financial advisor. Form an LLC. Speak to friends who run their own businesses. Rehearse your new role and give yourself time to let the initial excitement wear off. Your current job might be boring, but since becoming my own boss I have a greater appreciation for that old regular, steady paycheck.
2. Once you’ve truly decided to make the move, tell all your close friends and family. From time-to-time, they’ll ask about your plans, making it harder for you to procrastinate or put your ambitions on hold. As one friend told me: “Stop talking about your dreams. Pull the trigger.”
3. When you leave your job – especially if you’ve held it for a long time – be prepared for a psychological shock. Your daily routines are in for a big change and so is your sense of identity. The startup you’ve given birth to is this organic thing. It will change you. Instead of being an employee you’re now an entrepreneur. In my case it was longtime network correspondent becoming podcast startup guy.
4. Don’t be a loner. Have a “no bullshit” committee. It could be your spouse or good friends. They will sound the alarm when you’re selling yourself short or getting in a rut. I know a guy who always gets his wife to negotiate prices on consulting gigs. She understands his true worth. He’s likely to underestimate his value and experience.
5. Remember that you gave up your day job to follow your passion. Put yourself out there every day, calling and emailing new contacts. Be good to people, especially to those you work with. Build a community around you. Stay true to your goals. But also know that you will make mistakes and be open to change. Unlike that big employer you’ve just left, you can turn on a dime once you’ve discovered the next big thing for your startup.
Richard Davies is Director of DaviesContent, a New York based firm that makes podcasts for companies and non-profits. For 29 years he worked as a news correspondent at ABC News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.