I want to leave — but how?

You’ve decided.  Starting a business is the next step.  You know what you want from running a business, and you’ve tested the market, so you’re confident people will buy it. What’s less clear right now is exactly how you get from point A to point B.  From public servant to entrepreneur. How can you be smart about that transition? You’ll need a plan that gives you the best chance of success, and makes the best use of your time and energy. When you have that plan, you’ll stress less because you know what’s happening, and when.

If this sounds like you, there are three themes in my book you’ll find particularly useful.

1. Audit your skills

Well before you launch, pinpoint the skills that running your business will demand. There are the core skills that   people pay you for — whether that’s handcrafting hardwood furniture, or deep tissue massage. Then there’s everything else. In the public service, when your computer breaks, you can just pick up the phone and get the IT help desk onto it.  When you work for yourself, the problem is yours to solve.

When you have a comprehensive skills audit under your belt, you can decide what you’re already good at, what you need to improve on, and what to outsource.

2. Check for baggage

When I left the public service, it took me by surprise just how many habits and beliefs I was carrying with me.  Some of those things got in the way being effective in the new world of self-employment.  For me, a big one was realising that I didn’t have to ask for permission before making a decision. Whatever beliefs and habits you carry over from your government days, you’ll need to decide what’s helpful, and what needs to be left behind.

3.  Plan your departure

Let’s talk logistics. You may be wondering ‘when’s the right time to launch my business?’ ‘Should I hold onto my government job for a while and see how things go?’ In my book, we give you resources to tackle all of those questions, and come up with a plan that fits.

Three ways to quit your job

Standing on your desk, making a stirring speech and resigning on the spot is one way to quit your job.  There are others.  Download the guide to figuring out the best approach for you.

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Dev's story

Read how Dev Nagarajan has launched a home automation while still holding down his government job.

Read Dev's story

Dev Nagarajan runs Modern Automation. His company delivers complete home automation solutions, from lighting control and alarm systems to home theatre.

Right now I work in IP Australia, assessing applications for new patents.

I’m an electronics engineer by background, so I like seeing new technology before it hits the market. The frustration I have in the public service is that the only reward you get is your salary. If you do something great, you don’t get the recognition. In my business, if I do something great, I get rewarded straight away, because I see the growth.

Home automation is my passion, but it was never a business idea. I wanted to run a business for a long time, but I was thinking something more like a café. I thought only high end businesses could do automation. Then people saw what I’d done in my house and said ‘wow, can you do that for us as well?’ That’s when it struck me, ‘Hang on! I can do this as a business.’

I went and got approval from my director-general to-do the business while I’m working for IP Australia. I was completely transparent, and they were fine with it. I’m really careful not to get into a conflict of interest, so I don’t use office resources, and I don’t do anything on my business while I’m there.

Keeping that separation has been hard. You work a full day, and then you’ve got to come home and do the business too. I’d respond to emails from 8.00 to midnight, sometimes later. Mostly I’d go to client’s houses on weekends to-do an installation. If I was going to a client’s house during the week, I’d just go on my lunch break.

I get plenty of flexibility in my current role. The nature of my job is that nobody relies on me to be there 9-5, as long as I get the work done. I can take flex-time off and go do whatever I want to-do. That flexibility has helped a lot while I’ve been growing my business.

Right from the start, I wanted Modern Automation to look like a business, not a hobby. Home automation is a luxury product, so you can’t look small. I couldn’t have people calling a mobile or emailing dev@hotmail.com. So from day one, I had a 1300 number, a proper website and a secretarial service. My clients don’t know I’m working after hours, because I run it as a full-time business.

Having a split focus has meant that it hasn’t always gone smoothly, though.

Because I work in the public service, I couldn’t dedicate my whole time to the business. In the early days, I visited some clients in Sydney, and promised I’d get a quote back to them in the next few days. Then I got a bit tied up with my IP Australia job and didn’t get back to them in time. I lost a few clients, and my credibility.

Now business is picking up, I’m going to go part-time. I’ll use that one day off to-do quotes and follow up with clients. I have to-do it gradually, because I have too many financial commitments, with houses and cars, so if I just quit my job, and don’t get any business next month, I’m in trouble. If someone else didn’t have so many financial commitments, they could take a bigger risk.

The day I’ll be most happy is when I’m earning more from my business than what I’m earning now.

If Dev’s story struck a chord with you, you’ll find plenty of other stories to inspire you in my book.  Get your copy today.

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