Some aspiring entrepreneurs believe that the beginning of the year is the perfect time to launch a startup, and they choose to quit their day job in preparation for a fresh start in January. If you plan to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams next year, then check out these nine things you need to know before you turn in your notice:
1. Keep in Mind That Timing Is Everything
Many experts agree: leaving a job in October, November, or December may not be a wise move financially. Some companies offer end-of-year bonuses or other profit sharing benefits, while others give promotions to employees at the end of the year in an effort to start the year off running. Leaving your job before December could result in the loss of a financial bonus or a missed opportunity. In addition, companies are hesitant to hire new employees in December. Budgets are generally depleted, and managers may not want to risk losing their own bonuses with the addition of a new, untested hire.
2. Remember That the Fine Print Matters
Before handing your boss a resignation letter, make sure you’ve checked your hiring contract to find out if you are eligible to start a similar company. Review all the documentation you signed in order to determine whether you agreed to a non-compete clause or non-solicitation agreement.
3. Evaluate Your Reasons for Leaving
While you may be complaining about the hours or the long commute, the real reason driving your decision to quit may be something entirely different. You should evaluate the feelings behind your desire to quit. Is it a lack of recognition? Do you feel as though you’ve been treated unfairly? Instead of quitting without giving your boss the opportunity to make changes, you should meet with your supervisor and explain your feelings.
4. Check Your Financial Reserves
Most experts agree that you should have at least 12 months of living expenses saved up before quitting your job. Depending on your current situation, you may need to take into account your savings, brokerage accounts, and CDs. Discuss your life insurance policy with an investment specialist, and ensure that your family will be taken care of should anything happen to you.
5. Give Sufficient Notice
If possible, you should give your boss at least two weeks’ notice before leaving. This allows your company time to hire a replacement and to ensure a smooth transition. Leaving on good terms with your employer also allows for the possibility that you may conduct business with your supervisor in the future. By leaving your job in good standing, you can be confident that any future encounters will be more successful.
6. Work Every Day
Once you’ve given notice and secured a new job, it might be tempting to “kill time” at your old job until your last day. However, you should counteract this tendency by ramping up your work efforts. By doing so, you’re leaving your employer with a good impression of you as an employee and reminding them of the valuable asset that they’ve lost.
7. Create a Back-Up Plan
Despite your best intentions, starting your own company may not go as smoothly or as successfully as you had imagined. You should develop a back-up plan in case you need to supplement your income during the lean start-up phase of your new company. In spite of a low unemployment rate, there are still millions of jobs that go unfilled because employees feel that they are overqualified, and their pride keeps them from taking what they believe to be a lower-level position. Are you willing to take what many would consider a menial job to pay the bills you need to survive?
8. Rally the Troops
Your decision to leave a paying job and start an entrepreneurial endeavor can affect your family. Before you write your resignation letter, you should sit down with your spouse and children to give them a realistic idea of what you are planning to do and how you will support the financial needs of the household. If everyone is not on board, it can make the process of becoming an entrepreneur more difficult. Preempt any extra frustration by getting everyone onto the same page with your plan.
9. Leave with Dignity
It can be easy to criticize a previous employer with whom you had a disagreement. You make a few remarks about how much you disliked your boss, and somehow those remarks may come back around. Instead of risking future opportunities, you should keep your angry thoughts and bitterness to yourself. You never know what the future will bring—you may find yourself working with former supervisors or reapplying to your former company. Keep those options available by keeping your dignity intact.
No matter how antsy you may be to leave your current job, you should do things the right way. Not only will you feel better about yourself, but you’ll preserve your reputation for being an upstanding employee.