There’s a monumental shift taking place in the American workplace: people are quitting their jobs in record numbers. Up to one-third of people joining ‘The Great Resignation’ say they want to be their own boss.
I understand their motivation. I had my own ‘Big Quit’ moment just over 15 years ago when my wife and I started our own business practice. I had a master’s degree, fifteen years of experience in broadcast journalism (including stints at CNN and CBS), and two years at a global public-relations firm.
I left a six-figure job and a prestigious title as vice president of media training. I was excited and optimistic. I was also nervous and anxious because we had a new mortgage and newborn baby.
Today my oldest daughter is 16-years-old, we’ve moved to a bigger house, and our business continues to thrive and grow. So would I recommend it to others? While I never stand in the way of anyone pursuing their dreams, there are four things to consider before you leave a stable job.
1. Stay put if you’re learning new skills.
Being your own boss means that you’re in charge of finance, marketing, social media, design, technology, etc. If you’re learning new skills in your current company and you’re surrounded by very smart people, then stay put. Take the opportunity now to learn the skills you’ll need to succeed later.
I know several people who worked directly with Jeff Bezos at Amazon. They say it was the most demanding period of their careers, yet many stayed for years because they were learning something new everyday. They carried those teachings to their own startups, some of which grew into large, publicly-traded companies.
Great entrepreneurs are constant learners. If you’re still learning, be patient. You have plenty of time to pursue your dream.
2. Create a mission.
Every company has a mission statement. So should you.
I started my own business to write books, deliver keynote speeches, and coach CEOs. I needed a mission to drive me. I decided to be: “The communication coach for the world’s most admired brands.”
The mission drove me to reach out–not to small companies, but to big ones. After I was hired to coach C-suite executives at Silicon Valley’s legendary tech company, Intel, I used it as an anchor client to attract others. Today I can say that I’ve worked directly with senior leaders at seven of the top 10 “most admired brands.”
A big, bold mission will drive you and provide the fuel to overcome the setbacks and hurdles you’ll encounter on the way to the top.
3. Build a network of cheerleaders.
Surveys show that entrepreneurs are happier than wage-earners, but far more stressed. Bottom line: Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it on your own. Find a support system of cheerleaders to lift you up during the low points.
Your confidence will be tested. For example, I quit my job to write a book. Since it was one of my first books, the advance was very small. An acquaintance was shocked when he heard that I took what amounted to an 85 percent pay cut to write a book.
He badgered me with questions that shook my confidence: What if it doesn’t sell? How will you pay your insurance when it runs out?
I called one of my cheerleaders, a friend who left a corporate finance job to run his own wealth-management firm.
“Tell me, did that guy read any of your book?” My friend asked.
“Well I have. It’s a bestseller. Now go back to writing.”
A little tough love and support was all I needed to lift me up.
The book I was writing, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, became an international bestseller. I’ve written nine more books that have been translated into more than 40 languages.
Build a network of cheerleaders to lift you up when the naysayers bring you down.
4. Follow a calling, not a hobby.
I’ve met countless business professionals who turn their ‘hobby’ into a business. Very few succeed because a hobby isn’t a calling. A hobby is something you pursue for pleasure; a calling is something that pursues you and refuses to let you go.
A billionaire venture capital investor once told me that he invests in entrepreneurs “who are so completely captivated by an idea, they simply cannot imagine living their life without pursing it.”
This investor took a risk on founders who were so obsessed with their ideas, they simply couldn’t be stopped. Those ideas turned into PayPal, Google, and Airbnb.
When you follow a calling, it’s not ‘work.’ It’s who you are.
By all means, follow your dreams. Just make sure you create the conditions to give yourself the best chance to flourish.