Quit your job
In a smart and professional manner, that is. Create an Exit Strategy. I am proposing you create a six-month Exit Strategy Timeline. This will give you time to determine what you want to do, prepare for the transition and be good to go when you wake up one day and find yourself self-employed. I will also create a timeline starting with January 1 and ending with June 30. When Independence Day arrives, you can celebrate your career’s Independence Day.
You can have a party. You can have a ribbon cutting at your place of business. You can have cake and behave as if your new baby was coming home that day. Invite friends, neighbors and professional contacts. Start your new career with a bang.
You can follow this timeline. I am creating an exit strategy timeline checklist and leaving it online at www.cameronparkcomputer.com/escape/Exit-strategy-timeline.doc
January: Review your relationship with your employer
- Review your personnel file. Verify the vacation and sick time you’ve accrued and at what rate you are accruing. Look for any derogatory items in your file. Seek out the author and ask for either an explanation or retraction. Write a memo that contests everything the author said. For example, suppose someone complained they saw you drinking alcohol on company property. Write your memo contesting their claims. Write that either you have never consumed alcohol on company property or it was at a social event (holiday party, new customer celebration, etc.) and your boss granted permission. Be honest. You may need your employer as a reference. Make sure your file paints you in a positive light. Anything derogatory must be outweighed by something favorable.
- Look for any noncompeting contracts. They may be in the personnel file or they may be somewhere else in the boss’ or HR office. Someone will probably ask: “Why do you want to know”? Tell them you may be starting a business someday.
- Get the insurance details. Find out how much you and your employer (combined) are paying for your insurance. Make sure this amount includes what you (combined) are paying for your family.
- Get your own copy of Escape the Cubicle. If you borrowed this from a friend, thank them for letting you borrow it. You should have your own copy. You can make notes in the margins and dog-ear pages. You’ll have access to this book 24 hours a day. It is available in paperback at modest pricing. Make a small investment here and get your own copy.
February: Sharpen Your Saw
- Read Escape the Cubicle (again).
- Write your Definite Mission.
- Decide where you want to do business. Yes, this includes checking the cell phone service, Internet coverage and tax structure at the place you want to open up shop.
- Do your SWOT Analysis. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. I cover the SWOT Analysis later in this book. You can download my SWOT Analysis form for your personal use now[i] or finish reading the book and then do this checklist.
- Create your elevator pitch and remember you are currently employed but looking at changing careers. You can start yours with: “I am researching creating my business which will…” Remember, you’re still in the cubicle. You have to honestly share that info whenever sharing the elevator pitch or explaining why you bought these books. Be accurate and honest.
- Become cheap. Start stockpiling cash for your business. Cancel any vacations or large personal purchases. You have better uses for that money. Frugality is a habit. You need 21 days to embrace a habit. Make personal frugality your first.
- Make gift requests count. My family publishes Christmas lists. I asked for a Sprint gift card. I received one and used it to buy a new phone.
- Create an entity. This includes registering your Internet domain name(s) and official business name. Establish an e-mail address at one of your domains.
March: Establish your social media presence
- Create accounts at Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’re too busy or uncomfortable, hire a professional to do this for you.
- Get a professional picture in electronic format. Upload this to your profile at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and any other sites you choose.
- Create a Blog. Establish links between the blog and the services I describe (above). If you’re too busy or uncomfortable, hire a professional to do this for you.
- Establish some mechanism for storing your passwords. I recommend using an online free password manager called LastPass. It’s not the only one out there; something is better than nothing. Finding yourself handicapped because you cannot log in to a web site is downright silly. Do not let this happen to you. I made more money in 2009 helping people recover from lost and forgotten passwords than I did killing viruses and malware.
April: Get business-class tools
- Purchase a smart phone that lets you send/receive e-mail, take pictures, surf the web and backup data to a computer. You won’t always be at a desk. Customers will assume you are usually available.
- Buy an accounting package. I recommend QuickBooks. You can run your business on this. Spend time learning it. If you’re too busy or uncomfortable, hire someone to do this for you.
- Get a business-class computer. The primary factor here is price. The business-class computers I resell cost $900 and last 5+ years. You should expect this from a tool that you will use to run your business. I’m not talking about a $300 big box netbook special here. I’m talking about a business-class computer that you will use exclusively for the business. Buy a $300 special for the kids. That will help keep them away from your business-class tool.
- Use an offsite backup mechanism. I discuss offsite backups and the cloud at length in this book. Review both strategies and decide which one you will embrace. Remember, something is better than nothing.
May: Become legitimate
- Create a web site or hire someone to create the web site for you. Since you’re starting out, you do not need a fancy one. You do need one that works, has correct grammar and presents your company in a positive light.
- Get professional business cards. You may be surprised at how cheap they become when you order 1,000 or more.
- Catch up. I gave you a lot of work in February and March. Use free time this month to catch up.
June: Wrap up loose ends
- Find a small business owner support group in your area.
- Find small business advocates online. In addition to my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter connections, I have found Wall Street Journal Small Biz at Twitter. Subscribe to this list. You can also connect with me at these three sites.
- Filter the negatives. You’re starting a business here. It is no easy task. Filter negative news from your life. This includes the nightly network news, political talk shows and useless sitcoms. You can find intelligent and positive sources of information both online and on TV. This will be a tough habit. Be strong.
- With at least two-week’s notice, tell your boss you will be leaving the company. Be strong. Do not accept any counteroffers.
- Do not go to the bar with your coworkers.
[i] You can find the SWOT Analyses for two entrepreneurs at http://cameronparkcomputer.com/escape/SWOT-analysis-for-petes-plumbing-and-daphne-dance-company.pdf
From Escape the Cubicle