Face it: You’re dangling from the career ladder,
and you want to jump off! Your work is boring or has lost its meaning,
your boss controls your priorities and your time, you find no place to
use your enthusiasm and creativity – you want to scream "I hate my
And this thing you call a job isn’t even
secure! The world of corporate employment is full of land mines these
days, and you’re trying to dodge them like everyone else. Thousands of
blue-collar workers are getting pink slips. If you’re in a technical
job, you’re increasingly at risk to that work being outsourced abroad.
Even if you’re a manager or an executive, maybe you feel like an
There’s one more thing:
The material payoffs for enduring this kind of career stagnation are
diminishing every day. Salaries and wages creep up slowly, if at all.
Traditional benefits like pensions and health insurance are eroding.
And the notion of company loyalty to employees has become about as
old-fashioned as VCRs.
All of this brings you to one
conclusion: I want to start a business and stop working for the man. If
so, you’ll be happy to know that more than 80% of the people who will
be launching a business this month, next month or the month after that,
according to a study by Babson College, are looking to leave their
jobs, just like you.
We want to do everything we can to encourage you to join the flight from unhappy employment.
that if you take the plunge and decide to become an entrepreneur,
you’ll spend more time doing work you love, and less time in meetings.
You’ll flourish creatively in an environment of endless possibilities,
instead of being silently thwarted. You’ll avoid that long commute!
while there’s obviously great risk in leaving behind a regular paycheck
and predictable assignments, there also is great risk in staying right
where you’re at. The difference is that, in a job, someone else is
determining your future – someone who easily could come to see
eliminating your position, or frustrating your progress, as a way of
reducing the risk to their own performance. But when you start a
business, you control your exposure to risk – and do it only on your
Now, at this point, we can almost hear other
misgivings welling in your mind. You can’t stop thinking about the
wonderful psychic payoffs from sticking with your job. Your cubicle
mates are more like Drew Carey than Dilbert, and you really enjoy the
camaraderie with them in and out of the office. You’ve finally got that
business-casual dress thing down to a science. You've finally arranged
your work station just the way you like it. Or, you enjoy the routine
of a fixed starting time and the familiarity of your regular slot on
the assembly line. And after all, it’s just three more years and you’re
fully vested in the pension that you’ve been building toward for a
couple of decades.
Just don’t be clinging to those
notions because you want a sense of belonging, or stick with your job
this year because you did it last year. The corporate environment
indeed can be seductive, but it also can be a trap. Life isn’t a dress
rehearsal, and it is short. So, do you want to spend all of your
working hours in an environment of your own making, one that is
positive and creative and thrilling? Or in a corporate holding pen that
is routine and even deadening, and only apparently “safe”?
Four ways to a more fulfilling occupation
Just go ahead and take the plunge:
You’ve planned, plotted and prepared for your leap into the exciting
unknown of entrepreneurship – so just jump! In hindsight, you’ll
probably conclude that you should have done it a year or two earlier.
That’s what happened to Patrick Gray, who had worked for two companies
in two years when he finally decided to devote full time to starting
Prevoyance Group, a project-management consulting firm in New York
City. “There’s no shortage of people lamenting their current situation
and dreaming of going out on their own, but few get to the point where
they start knocking on doors looking for clients, taking out loans to
fund the venture, and writing checks for startup costs,” Patrick says.
“But the only way I could get adequate direction over my career was to
go it alone.”
Move “part-to-full” time:
If you want to test the entrepreneurial waters but can’t quite risk
quitting your job cold turkey, launch your new company part-time
instead. Evenings and weekends will never be the same! And if you
dedicate yourself to your startup business, sooner rather than later,
it will become clear whether you should devote your entire work life to
Position yourself for a later exit: Another
way of making a gradual transition is to optimize your corporate
position in light of your desire to start a company, says Pamela Slim,
owner of Ganas Consulting, a Mesa, Arizona-based outfit that consults
on workplace issues with large companies, and founder of
EscapefromCubicleNation.com. For example, you could maneuver into a
sales-related position that could help prepare you for touting your own
company. Also, build your knowledge and skills by taking advantage of
the opportunities that many companies offer through education, training
and mentoring programs. Given the continued corporate cutbacks these
days, even if you feel at a dead end with your employer, you might hang
around awhile just to position yourself for receiving a severance
package that could then financially underwrite your startup.
Reboot your corporate career:
Remember that the decision to leave a company and maybe a career
probably isn’t reversible. And becoming an entrepreneur isn’t something
you do on a lark; statistically, your business has a much greater
chance of failure than success. For those reasons, you might want to
consider ways to recharge your corporate career rather than abandon it:
switch departments, or even companies. Become “ intrapreneurial ”
within the company, a dynamic agent for change and progress. The
success of that approach may renew your appreciation of your employer
and keep you from becoming a citizen of StartupNation – at least for
Our Bottom Line
believe that unhappy employment is only a phase on the way to the true
fulfillment that you can find in starting and running your own company.
So if you're sounding like a broken record when you say you hate your
job, we’re here to help you make the transition. Get going with our 10 Steps to Open for Business.