Leaving a corporate job

Soul sucking, boring, dull, dreary and full of people in strange suits? Difficult to break away? In my experience (2 years away from the corporate world) you need to have a few bases covered to successfully leave a corporate job, but it’s no panacea… stress and hard work remain a constant.

Firstly you need to have something to move to. Don’t just leave without a supplementary income. I built up a small business on the sidelines while I spent my days at the corporate office. It grew into something sustainable over 2 years to the point that I could focus on it full time.

Second, get rid of debt. My wife and I went overseas and built up capital in a stronger foreign currency to pay off everything in South Africa before leaving the corporate world. It was probably the best idea we ever had. Debt will drown the best laid plans and entrepreneurial dreams.

Third, be realistic and do it for the right reasons. Chasing one’s passions is different to building a financially sustainable business model. I would love to be a writer or a music producer, but it wasn’t a clear business path for me compared to running a (admittedly boring) risk assessment business. My point is – the life away from the corporate world is not without stress or hard work – and it is not filled with pleasurable activity all day – this is not the aim. The aim is freedom to plan your own day, to answer to yourself and to reap the benefits of hard work. Most pleasure seeking is still on the sidelines even if you leave the corporate life. What I can do now is spend valuable time with my children each morning and evening without the overhanging pressure from a relative stranger back at HQ.

It’s worth it, but work is work no matter who you work for.