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Quitting a Job to Be Self-Employed

by Lisa McQuerrey

Quitting a full-time job to become self-employed is a bold career move. For the well-prepared, the transition to self-employment can be fulfilling and profitable. For those without a serious business plan in place, some unexpected realities of self-employment -- like paying for your own health insurance and retirement plan -- can come as an unpleasant shock. Take calculated steps to ease the transition from one professional role to the next.

Create Business and Marketing Plans

Business and marketing plans aren’t just tools for getting small business funding. They’re also used to help you evaluate all aspects of your business venture, from marketing research to writing a detailed budget. The process can help you uncover things you might not have thought of, like the cost of business licensing, insurance, inventory, marketing fees and self-employment taxes. It can also help you verify positive aspects of your endeavor that provide reassurance that you're on the right track.

Test the Waters

Rather than quit your job one day and become self-employed the next, consider a gradual transition. As long as it doesn't interfere with your current job, and doesn't violate company policy on earning outside income, there's nothing wrong with launching your business venture on a smaller scale while you're still employed full-time. If you want to run your own catering operation, for example, you can test the waters by catering events on the weekend. This allows you to maintain a steady paycheck and benefits while you build clientele and contacts for your business on your own time. It can be a challenge to work a regular job while getting a self-employed career off the ground, so manage your time wisely.

Give Notice

Once you're comfortable your self-employment venture has high potential for success, and you have enough savings set aside to support yourself for several months, give your current employer a standard notice that you are leaving. Write a letter of resignation and make an appointment to speak to your immediate supervisor. Express your appreciation for the opportunities you had in the position. If possible, set the stage for doing work for the company in the future as an independent contractor or consultant. Let your boss know what your plans are and ask him for business referrals if something appropriate comes to his attention.

Say Your Goodbyes

Let business contacts, including former colleagues and clients, know about your new venture. Give them your contact information as a way to stay connected. Let former clients know where you're going, introduce them to the new people who will take over their accounts, and tie up loose ends in all aspects of your position. Leaving on a professional note establishes you as a reliable and trustworthy individual and bolsters your professional reputation.

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