About a month ago, I made my departure from corporate America in search of greener pastures and to embrace the world of full-time entrepreneurship. I have to admit that although it wasn’t quite a “rage quit,” I did choose to terminate my employment because workplace pressures were having a negative impact on my mental health.
I tweeted out an announcement shortly after sending my resignation, and that tweet was retweeted more than 4,000 times and “liked” by nearly 40,000 Twitter users. Among the outpouring of support I received, there were declarations of how proud people were of me for choosing to bet on myself, and more surprisingly an entourage of people sharing their intent to do the same. Although I won’t pretend to have it all figured out, I did anticipate that this day might come, and I was prepared for it mentally and, more importantly, financially. If you are considering making the jump into full-time entrepreneurship and firing your boss, make sure you do these four things first.
Build a solid personal brand
Outside of the traditional work week, I would spend the extra time I had building a personal brand. I wrote two books, delivered a TEDx talk, have been a guest on numerous podcasts, write for and have been featured in several publications and have built a nice social media following. I have built a brand as an advocate and thought leader for financial literacy and empowerment.
Although it became a point of contention with my previous employer, I’ve developed strong relationships with brands, decision-makers, coaches, consultants, other financial professionals and entrepreneurs who celebrate my talents and accomplishments outside of a corporate identity.
Establish strategic relationships
Although you’ll always want to lead with integrity and authenticity, it’s important to position yourself among like-minded individuals who either have been where you are or are following the same trajectory you’re following. Mentors and colleagues you can trade value and ideas with can likely position you for success in your endeavors or give you encouragement along the way. They can advocate for you in rooms and venues you’ve never stepped foot in, and they can talk some sense into you if you seem to be off your game.
Think worst-case scenario: If your business falls flat, and you can’t list 10 people you can either reach out to for help or to point you in the direction of a resource, then you need to build more meaningful relationships before you begin to think about quitting.
Create a financial plan
This is probably the most intimidating part of quitting your job, especially if you’re not independently wealthy, have a family and dependents, and/or have large financial obligations such as student loans or debt. Money is the reason many of us work in the first place, and starting a new business or investing full-time efforts into a side hustle can leave you in the red while you get started.
Your financial plan should prioritize necessary expenses versus unnecessary ones, have an income plan, have emergency savings and should have a timeline to measure progress. You should know exactly how much you need to weather tough periods lasting three months or longer before you have to put your entrepreneurial dreams on hold and get back into the job market.
Find health coverage
One of the mistakes I made in quitting was not considering how I would cover healthcare costs after leaving my employer. In most cases you can sign up for COBRA, which allows for you to continue coverage under your previous employer’s health care plan, but it’s typically a lot more expensive than a monthly premium. If you or your family have chronic conditions that require frequent visits to healthcare professionals, you want to make sure you have something lined up before your separation from the workforce. You can also get a solid understanding of how long coverage from your employer lasts after you resign. For instance, my previous employer would have extended the benefits through the rest of the month had I resigned at the beginning of the month, but I resigned three days before the end of the month, so my coverage ended quickly.
Full-time entrepreneurship is a freeing experience, but it comes with a unique set of challenges. Make sure you’re prepared and that you have a plan to weather whatever storm comes your way on your path to building a future on your terms.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.