Creating Your Corporate Exit Strategy

by Deborah A. Bailey


For some people starting a business is a dream that they think will only come true once they leave their day job. For others, running a business and managing a corporate career is their everyday reality. Conventional wisdom says that you should start your business before you quit your job, however, doing both things at the same time can be a huge challenge.

Back when I was in corporate I worked in information technology. As a full-time employee it was next to impossible for me to start a business since I regularly had 10-hour workdays. My job often required night and weekend work, so there was barely time to have a real life, much less add a business into the mix.

Even if you have the ability to put in hours on the job and in your business, eventually you will have to make the transition into being a full-time entrepreneur if you want your business to grow. Otherwise your side business will remain just that, and you will never reach the potential that you dreamed of when you started it.

What you need is a plan to move into your position as CEO. Getting that regular paycheck can be very reassuring and provides a feeling of security that will be hard to give up. Having a timeline will keep you on track and give you the motivation you need to keep moving forward.

1. Decide when you would like to move into running your business full-time. Six months from now? Three months? One year? Set a date that feels comfortable for you.

2. Once you have your date, work backwards from there and determine what has to happen financially. For instance, do you need a certain amount of money for business expenses or to launch a new product? Once your salary is no longer coming in, how long will it take for your business income to fill that gap? Be honest about your expenses and how much money you need to cover them.

3. Start eliminating as much personal debt as possible. You may need to incur additional debt to put into your business, so get rid of as much as you can while you still have a regular salary.

4. Let your family know what your plans are for leaving your day job. Everyone has to be on the same page and know what is expected of them when the transition happens. It’s best to discuss any concerns now – don’t wait until you’ve left your job and then have to deal with issues around your decision.

5. Once you are responsible for creating and managing your own income, it is not the same as living with a paycheck coming in on a regular (and predictable) schedule. There will be fluctuations in your income (not to mention the different types of taxes and expenses involved). Take this time to do your research so that you’ll be prepared.

6. Depending on your business, being a full-time entrepreneur can mean spending much more time alone and as opposed to being in an office environment. Start networking and connecting with other entrepreneurs so that you can build a support system before you go out on your own.

7. Get clear about your vision for what you want to accomplish. Your business will be a reflection of you and your beliefs about yourself. Limiting beliefs will impact your business success. If you’re optimistic and stay open to opportunities, your potential will be unlimited. Need help as you make this transition? Consider getting a business coach to support you. All successful people have coaches and/or mentors and they are a critical part of an entrepreneur’s “power team.”

Starting a business takes courage and vision. By taking charge of your own destiny and becoming a business owner, you are stepping out of the mainstream and entering a life with limitless potential. Don’t be afraid to make your corporate exit, but plan it properly in order to insure your business success. 

This article originally appeared in Identity Magazine.

Deborah A. Bailey is author of two non-fiction books including, “Think Like an Entrepreneur: Transforming Your Career and Taking Charge of Your Life .” She's also the creator and host of Women Entrepreneurs Radio, a weekly internet talk show. Her fiction work includes a short story collection and a novel, available on Amazon.com. 
For more information, visit http://www.BrightStreetBooks.com.

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