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Plotting Your Corporate Exit Strategy

Plotting Your Corporate Exit Strategy

If you are reading this article, you are likely thinking about exiting the corporate world. Before we even get started, my first tip is to journal the moments that make you feel like exiting. Document them as you experience them so that you can capture the why behind your desire. Trust me: You'll need the raw feelings later on to maintain your fuel.

Some of us may know what we want to do after exiting, while others may not yet have a solid plan. Here are some ways to explore your options and focus on viable ones.

Volunteer.

Volunteer for causes that pull on your heartstrings. When you are working on a cause or a project you believe in, you're energized and motivated.

You'll find yourself taking on tasks and roles you otherwise wouldn’t. For example I have a friend who hates fundraising, yet when she was working on a project for a nonprofit benefitting cancer research, she left no stones unturned and became the top fundraiser for her team.

Follow this sense of joy and fulfillment. It can help you unlock passions and understand your calling. Volunteering is also a great way to transition into a totally different field.

Network.

When we are in the corporate world, we tend to be heads-down and work-focused. We often don’t make time to diversify our networks by attending events, conventions, workshops, or coffee meetings.

It's critical to make time to do this, even when life is busy. Otherwise, you're going to an ATM without having made a deposit. We can only withdraw from an account we've invested in.

Connections are key not just for cashing in favors later, but for supporting others' careers. When we are ready for our transitions, we will have allies ready to support our goals, as well.

[Related: Exit Stage Right]

Frustrations.

When you are frustrated with an experience, pay attention to the root of that frustration. What is missing? How is your experience different from your expectations? What are the emotions associated with the frustration?

Chances are, if you are feeling frustrated, others are, as well. That's an opportunity to meet a need. It's how I got into the real estate profession. My home buying experience was not great, and that got me to consider it as a new career and business.

Career and life coach.

One of the best investments I have made in myself was in hiring a career and life coach. I am better at helping others reach breakthroughs than I am doing that for myself.

When I was considering a move from corporate, I hired a coach to help me figure out my next steps. I had a variety of options and needed someone to be a sounding board, to challenge my thoughts, to hold me accountable to the things I needed to do. A coach can see qualities and blind spots you may not. Consider investing in one.

Finances.

One of the scariest false myths about leaving corporate is how much money we leave behind. Say you are "making" $100,000 a year in salary. Know that you are not leaving $100,000 behind if you decide to leave, because you were never making it to begin with.

After taking out tax, healthcare, cost of working (career outfits, lunch, gas, childcare, unpaid overtime, your sanity), you were never making that $100K you thought you were. Revisit your monthly budget (or create one) and get it down to a bare bones budget.

Separate the must-haves (food, shelter) from the nice-to-haves (mani/pedi, eating out). When you get bonuses, pay off as much of your debt as possible. Without revolving debt, the financial pressure is that much less when you do decide to make the leap.

Shop around for auto and home insurance. Consider taking out a general loan against your 401K (check your plan administrator for how it works out after departure), for which you will create a separate bank account and repay monthly. This is money you won’t touch, but gives you peace of mind that, worst case scenario, you will have a cushion to maintain the basics.

Healthcare is a real issue that needs to be considered. Dental and vision care plans are inexpensive to buy individually. Medical is a challenge, though there are some strategic options you may consider (health share plans, working part-time at a company that offers benefits, company Cobra plan).

[Related: Want the Best Vacation of a Lifetime?]

Branding.

While still in corporate, start your side hustle and branding. This can be logos, website, content, and systems and processes.

If the type of business you decide to start does not require using your name, you can do more branding without raising questions about your commitment to your career.

Systems and processes.

Create questionnaires, documents, FAQs, and consultations that will make your business run consistently.

Invest your nights and weekends building this. You want to have little-to-no learning curve when you do make the leap.

Clients.

Start with people you know. They know your value. You will spend less time and energy selling your products and services to them than you would to a total stranger. They will then become your advocates. You can build a portfolio or testimonials leveraging these relationships.

Working for yourself is not easy. If it were, everyone would do it. The true value is the freedom to live life on your terms. It can be a harder, yet more meaningful and fulfilling, way of making a living.

[Related: Is Starting a Family Your Next Career Move? 4 Steps You Need to Take Now]

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Tez Roro is a realtor who aims to help her clients find a life by design, not one by default. Her intention is for long-lasting relationships wherein her clients reap the benefits of working with her long after the closing of transactions.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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