How Do You Know You’re Ready to Go Out on Your Own?

Not long ago, I had a client who was feeling very frustrated and burned out by their job; they felt as if they were putting in a lot of effort but not getting the recognition, pay or promotional opportunities they would have liked.  This was someone who had many years of experience, the last few at a high level.  In exploring their needs and where they wanted to go, I questioned why they were not going out on their own and working as a consultant/contractor as it seemed that their wants were not going to get realized, at least for several more years; their level of stress was not going anywhere if they stayed where they are now.

The response I got from my client is not one I haven’t heard before: “I don’t think I’m ready – I need at least one more job before I go out on my own.”  While I can respect this thought, I always get flabbergasted by this thought process; this, to me, speaks more about one’s ability to be a big thinker and to trust in their abilities.  If the workplace is not giving you what you want, and you honestly believe there are no other ways that you can change the situation, then my question to you is, “When will you know your are ready to go out on your own?”  What will it take for you to be able to answer the question and how soon do you want the answer?

If things are not moving ahead for you career-wise, either you are not getting more desirable projects or not getting promotions, then I think you need to explore – notice I did not say do – your options for going out and creating a  business where you can offer the services you are doing in your current position.  For example, I talk to a lot of business analysts, HR personnel, and managers who could easily take their skills and experiences to help others while monetizing their services.  It starts with a business and marketing plan, a focus and some dedication to get started and there are numerous ways to market these services, which I won’t go into now.

If you are struggling with making the decision to venture out on your own, or to stay in your current job (or find a new one), here are some suggestions to help you in your decision-making:

  1. Is my current job fulfilling my needs and utilizes my skills, experiences, talents, passions?  If not, are there ways I can learn to fall in love  with my job again (there are)?
  2. If I did go out on my own, what needs would my skills, abilities, etc. help others?  What type of problems do I hear and what solutions can I offer?
  3. Who would be my ideal client, i.e. who would I market my services to and in what ways?
  4. What investment would I need to make to begin my business (low) and how many clients/services/products would I need to sell to comfortably live on? What opportunities are there to expand a business or to partner with others?
  5. Am I willing to take a risk (you can always go back to a job) and invest in myself?  Will this fulfill my need to make a difference and advance me in my career?

If your current job is not providing you with opportunities and new skills/experiences, and only gives you frustration and stress, then it is probably time to explore going out on your own.  It is scary – I know – but you can either stay where you are now and get what you get or you can begin exploring your next career.  I would venture to say that you are more ready than you know.

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