Past Issues

June 26, 2017

The Right Way To Quit Your Job And Start A Business

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The Right Way To Start A Business

By Mike Kappel, Founder and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC.

There is a right and a wrong way to quit your job and start a business. You need to do it the right way. If you follow some of the tips below, you may be able to go back to your job if your startup doesn't work out the way you hoped.

  • If you're working on your business ideas outside the hours you're working for your employer, that's okay. If you're working on your business while you're at work, however, that's stealing. This is the last chance you'll have to make an impression on your employer, and you don't want that impression to be "stole company time for personal projects."

  • Make sure your resignation letter is short and sweet. Give your employer a 2-3 sentence letter that tells them how grateful you are for the opportunity to have worked for them, and how much you've learned. Your resignation letter is also your two weeks notice. Understand the situation that letter puts your employer in. Now they have to find someone to fill your spot.

  • When you go, don't steal the company's clients upon departure. Remember, as a startup, you're small. It's a strength: you're nimble, customized, fast. But you're also small as in easily crushed by a big, angry business with more reach and power than you. If a big business feels like you're threatening its ability to turn a profit, it can hit you with legal issues, suck up your cash reserves, and send your business into bankruptcy. Even just the threat of something like that can destroy your reputation. It's better to earn your reputation and customers naturally from scratch.

  • Don't recruit your friends to jump ship. By all means, put it out there for them. Let them know what you're planning, but don't facilitate their departure or sow seeds of dissatisfaction with their current employer. In many ways, taking an employee is far worse than taking a client. Losing an employee is losing information, revenue, and incurring the cost and energy of sourcing new talent, onboarding new employees, and getting the team back up to speed.

  • Sit down with your employer and map out everything you can about what you do and how you do it. If they ask you to show someone else the ropes, do it, and take it seriously. If you leave and they call you with questions that only you can answer, answer the questions - even if you don't like your former employer.

  • Many entrepreneurs leave one business to start a very similar business, their way. If this is you, and you are open and willing to help your former employer, you may find that former employer will send you clients they don't service the way you would. But if you're not willing to help them, they won't be willing to help you. Nor will they be ready to bring you back.

  • Once you hand in your letter of resignation, work extra hard. Not only does this let them know that you were a valuable employee, but it also reinforces what losing you represents. The ideal situation for you to quit and start your own business is one in which in your current employer says to you, "we're going to miss you around here, and if you ever want to come back, there will always be a place here for you."

  • Once you're gone, do not, bad-mouth your former employer. Remember, if you don't make it as a startup, you may be looking for another job, and this employer, being your last employer, could be a reference.

  • Even if your employer makes a very persuasive counter offer, humbly refuse. Look, I know about the entrepreneurial itch. It won't go away until you've scratched it, and once you've handed in your resignation you need to move on.

  • When your final day arrives, stay around, shake hands with your co-workers, tell them they're great people, and make sure they have your contact information.

  • Finally, do not burn any bridges. Time changes many people's perspectives, and when you wake up one day in the future, you may find yourself thinking "my old boss wasn't so bad." When that day comes, you'll wish you had that bridge!

Mike Kappel is the Founder and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC. He has over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience across five startups. He started Patriot Software in the basement of a factory and grew it into a multi-million dollar company that serves small businesses all across the United States. Mike really knows what small business owners and entrepreneurs face because he's faced it himself.

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