How Do You Know It's Time to Go?

During a recent group coaching call with the current group of aspiring consulting business owners in Take the Leap, we engaged in a lively discussion around how best to plan an exit from a full-time job.

Everyone had stories to share about their own current job situation, and everyone expressed a desire to exit on good terms with all of their important relationships intact.

It's a great idea to be very thoughtful and methodical in planning your exit, to act with integrity at all times, and to leave in such a way that leaves the door open to either return in the future or to provide consulting services back to your former employer.

If you're in 'planning mode' for your consulting business and putting your foundation in place, you should also be planning your exit. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Deciding 'when' to leave can be a complex and personal decision to make. When I left Deloitte, I gave my notice almost impulsively and didn't put a ton of thought or planning into it. I was in a state of burnout and physically couldn't stay in my job. I hope you won't get to this state and that you are able to take the time to carefully plan your departure.

Considerations to keep in mind might include:

  • How urgently do you want to start your own business?
  • Are the circumstances at your job (long hours, low compensation, bad boss etc.) becoming untenable, or can you tough it out for a few more months?
  • Have you been able to save your financial cushion of 3-6 months' living expenses?
  • Have you started your business development efforts and do you have some strong leads for your first contract?

Signaling Your Plans

Again, this may be highly personal, because you may want to be as open and transparent as possible with your employer about exploring options outside your company, or you may prefer to keep your plans confidential until you're absolutely certain.

If you do decide to signal to your employer that you're thinking of leaving, I'd recommend you:

  • Be as respectful and honest as you can be
  • Ask for advice and support, if you have that type of relationship with your boss
  • Ensure you continue to meet all of your obligations and commitments
  • Avoid giving the impression that you're 'half-assing' your job or spending your working hours building your side business

Making Your Departure

Once you've made your decision to exit, provide your notice in a way that aligns with your values and how your employer operates. This might require a resignation letter or a series of conversations with your boss, HR department, or the owner of the company. 

A few tips on how to ensure your departure is as positive as possible:

  • Be generous in expressing your gratitude for all that you learned while working for your employer
  • Provide sufficient notice to conduct knowledge transfer, transition your client work to others, and potentially train your replacement
  • Expressly ask to be kept in mind for opportunities to sub-contract or provide consulting services to your employer in the future - they might say no, but it doesn't hurt to ask :)

If you're looking for support and guidance on how to exit your job and start your own consulting business, I'd love to hear from you! Reach out any time at [email protected].

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