Should I stay or should I go?
On two occasions I set out to start a new venture—once with a partner, once on my own. Each time I had to weigh the benefits and risks. I am sure the idea of stepping out has crossed your mind. If not, then you can stop reading.
My last “launch” was more challenging for two reasons—I had been with the organization for 18 years, and I had more to lose (security, health insurance, resources, steady income, etc.). I was older and had more financial obligations, such as kids headed to college. I weighed the decision for a couple years prior to venturing out and wrestled much of that time with the age-old question: Should I stay or should I go?
In The Big Book on Small Business, Tom Gegax offers five insights that I believe apply to apply to almost any venture … for profit, non-profit, or faith-based.
Here are Tom’s categories, and I have added a couple of my own key decisions.
- Consider the Impact on Your Family: Any transition—even if it does not require a physical move—can have an impact. If it involves a physical move and you are dragging your family along kicking and screaming, this is NOT the time to step out. Is there a financial downside? What do others say who have made similar moves? Where you go is as important—maybe more so—than what you will be doing. Place matters; culture matters.
- Face the Fear: It is easy to let the fear get you down. For me, it was more about uncertainty and where I would focus my energies first. But do not avoid the fear—list your fears and potential impact as you see it. Then shop the list to key, trusted advisers, family and friends. Your fears will get right-sized and your courage will grow.
- When in Doubt, Gut It Out: Don’t run from the old; move toward the new. If you are running away because it is hard or you are just angry and frustrated, that is a bad idea. I felt the same, but stuck it out. I continued to explore new ventures within the organization, but all roads led to a dead end. They were going in a much different direction and could not see what I brought to the table. But I did not run. Gutting it out has lots of advantages: character growth, finishing well and time to get clarity, build connections, etc.
- Think About Partnering: You don’t have to build from scratch. Others have done or are doing similar things. Can you link up? Join their team? Or can there be a mutually beneficial relationship? I worked with others, got some referrals and made some great connections. Look at potential partners and don’t let your ego tell you, “Be your own man/woman, you wimp!” Keep the long view in mind.
- Live Lean: I did not blow money but probably rented an office too soon. I wanted to establish a presence in the community where most of my business and contacts might develop. Turns out they were all over the place. A home office is fine and lots of business is done on Skype, in coffee shops and in restaurants. Beg and borrow before you buy!
And I would add…
- Consider the Impact on Your Soul: Any transition affects your inner person. What will a change mean for your heart, character, energy, passion for your values, ideals and so on? Will it be a soul-filling move or a soul-draining one? I find most of my coaching and consulting with leaders at every level deals with issues of the soul as much as with leadership and strategic issues.
- Believe Beyond Your Resume: Don’t undersell your abilities. Your past employer probably does not know—or sometimes does not want to know—what you can really do if you spread your wings. Usually they have pigeon-holed you into a role or a persona. I discovered this was true with SO many talented people where I had worked. You have so much to offer, especially if you have been around for 10 years or more, been learning and growing, and have a “brand” of your own that people value.
Are you ready? Are you sure? Then pull the trigger and go for it! Let me know if this is helpful and how you are doing!