If you've ever worked for a company and have been afraid of losing your job this post is for you.
For some, a corporate career can work. There are many advantages including good benefits, stock options, career progression and association with a named brand. But if you are like me, a corporate career can become unbearable.
A Corporate Career Can Turn Into a Nightmare
That dream, however, all too often turns to a nightmare in which you can feel trapped, stuck in a job you don't like, with long commutes, long work hours and the loss of freedom to build a life on your own terms.
I spent 20 years working in a corporate career. I spent 10 years working for a corporate training and consulting company and 10 years as an HR professional for a global organization.
For me, it seemed that every couple of years the organization I was working for would feel a need to reorganize and I would be wondering.."am I going to lose my job?"
If you're like me, at some point you begin to fantasize..."what if I had my own business?"
The idea of leaving corporate and starting your own business can be daunting. 50% of all new businesses fail within the first 5 years. A bit of caution about starting your own business seems prudent but don't let prudence be your prison guard.
Building Your Exit Strategy Will Give You Back a Sense of Control During Times of Uncertainty.
Before I make a few recommendations like make a few assumptions.
- You will start on the business while you are currently employed.
- You will need to minimize the time it takes to become profitable in order to replace or exceed your current income.
Option 1: Freelance
The Good: This option can work if you have an in-demand skillset such as coding, graphic design, copy-writing,etc. With low start-up costs freelancing allows you to use existing skills that you are likely using in your current role.
The Bad: Being a freelancer still means trading time for money. If you take a vacation, you don't get paid. Also, many people may not have the skills to be successful at freelance. For example, how would someone who was an office administrator freelance?
Option 2: Start a Traditional Business
The Good: You can start a business that aligns with your passion, and have some choice as to its location.
The Bad: The biggest reasons startup fail is that there is no market for the product/service (42%). People with passion projects/hobbies are thinking too much about their interests rather than the needs of the customer. The 2nd most common reason start-ups fail is because of the lack of capital (28%). Starting a business takes time and money. For example, It will likely take more than 1 to 2 years of full-time work before seeing enough profit to replace a fulltime income.
Option 3: Buy an Existing Business
The Good: An existing business has customers, a track record that is verifiable. Often the existing business owner will be willing to provide coaching and training, and sometimes financing. This method will also allow you to likely replace your existing income right away.
This is especially true if you buy a franchise business which often offers all the systems, coaching and training needed to get up and running.
You can find US-based businesses for sale on a few websites such as BizBuySell.com or BusinessBroker.Net. There are many franchise brokers that can help you find the right franchise for you. FranchiseDirect.com can help you find a franchise consultant to help you find the right opportunity.
The Bad: Running an existing business likely means being able to manage employees. If you do not have experience managing people this will likely be a big learning curve. Also, there is probably a reason why the person is selling the business. Does the owner know something that he/she is not disclosing? Hiring a broker to validate the viability of the business may reduce your risk but will also add to the total cost of purchase. Which leads to another problem: buying an existing business can be expensive and will require bank financing.
Option 4: Become an Online Marketer - there are many online marketing opportunities including e-commerce and affiliate marketing.
The Good: Geographic freedom, time-freedom (no longer having to trade time for money), ability to start small and scale, independence, earn while you learn, available coaching and mentoring, ability to leverage existing brands, doesn't require mastered skill.
The Bad: If using the internet is overwhelming for you then I would stay away from this option.
If you are in a corporate career and you're looking for a way out I would encourage you to act. Begin to plan your exit by choosing one of the options above. At the very least, the act of starting a business while having a career will give you a sense of control and purpose. Should the ax fall, and you are out of a job, thank the universe for forcing you to take the plunge and having a plan already in place. If you get a severance package you can use it as seed money for your new business.