From Executive to Business Owner
Episode 79 - Ten tips on how to make the transition from corporate job to business owner
10 tips on transitioning from a corporate job to being a business owner
I don't claim to be a small business consultant. I love career planning and coaching corporate professionals. However, during the coaching process, a client will eventually decide they want out from time to time! When that happens, I share how I transitioned from a corporate employee to a business owner since I have personal experience of starting a business twice. I learned a lot along the way.
This is most definitely a one-off episode. So if you are curious about what I've done to grow my business, how I do it now, how it's going, the tools I use, etc., then listen to this episode because I don't plan to talk about this anymore for a long time!
And this is the truth: I have a handful of clients at the moment who I'm sure have signed up with me because of how I managed to grow my expertise and start my business the way I did. They are doing a very similar transition (i.e., holding on to their corporate jobs until they are ready to fly solo!), and I love coaching them!
Here is the question I have for you: Are you ready to be a business owner? Is having a business a goal you want to work towards, so you can achieve it in a few years?
In this episode of The Job Hunting Podcast, I discuss the following 10 tips I recommend to help you transition from a corporate job to owning your own business in the future:
Resources mentioned in this episode
Do you have training material ready for online teaching? Then, learn more about Kajabi, the platform I use, and check if you should invest in this. I LOVE Kajabi and have built my entire website and learning programs using the platform. I have already converted many colleagues and coaches to using it. You can teach anything on Kajabi: music, farming, yoga... It handles everything: mailing this newsletter, CRM, payments, my website, and of course, my online teaching platform.*
Do you want a website? Here's my secret: Templates with everything you need: webpages, social media templates, all done for you, styled, branded, and easy to use. Yes, you can change the colors and photos.*
A link to the episode about my career story: 62. My career story: From immigrant to CEO.
Book a free discovery call with me if you consider getting a private coach to support your next steps.
Timestamps to guide your listening
05:00 - 1. Let the idea "percolate" for a while!
06:14 - 2. Validate your business idea before going to market.
08:25 - 3. Have enough savings to support the first 12 months.
10:16 - 4. Before you embark on being a business owner, learn how to take care of your personal affairs!
12:19 - 5. Get help from the get-go.
14:35 - 6. Even with all the preparation above, there are still things you won't know how to do, and that's where you should invest in.
23:11 - 7. Get ready to get busy.
25:26 - 8. Be careful whose advice you follow.
28:47 - 9. Be careful how you spend your money, especially with vanity metrics or expenses that are not right for your business size.
30:53 - 10. Be patient and be positive!
Transcript of this episode
Renata: This is going to be a very different episode for me and for you. I am not recording from home today - from my home office. I'm actually on the road. I’m in the Hunter Valley now. We've been to Canberra, Sydney, and now we're in the Hunter doing some wine tasting, and I'm using this opportunity when Andre left to do wine tasting by himself to record this episode. And the reason why this episode is also new and different is because I'm going to be talking about setting up your business if that's what you want to do. Because when clients come to me, and they are in transition, they've been made redundant or terminated or decided to leave their jobs, or they’re thinking about leaving their jobs, this conversation often happens with a coach.
Renata: Should I open a business? Is this something that I want to do in the future? And this is, as you may know, something that I've done because I used to be a corporate executive. I had a corporate career up until recently, and I spent some years planning to leave the corporate environment, and now I have my own business. I started off as a business consultant pre-COVID, and then when COVID hit Melbourne, it was a very serious lockdown that we had. I lost my retainers that I had at the time with different businesses. And I decided to go full-on career coaching, which I had started just a few months prior, in October 2019, when I launched The Job Hunting Podcast and decided to dedicate some of my time to career coaching.
Renata: And now I do that a hundred percent of my time. And many of the clients that I'm signing up are interested in that experience that I've had. And they asked me to share with them and help them do that transition. So that's what we're going to be talking here today, my own personal experience and what I'm seeing and supporting in some of my clients when they're thinking about doing that transition themselves. If job hunting is what you're doing if you're an ambitious corporate executive and you want to have a podcast to listen to weekly with ideas and guests and advice on how to further your career, or, you know, maybe have your own business, then why don't you subscribe to The Job Hunting Podcast. I'm going to be here waiting while you do that. And if you really enjoyed this episode and the ones that we've done before, we've been going on for over a year now. Please give us a five-star review wherever you found us. iTunes is a great place to leave us a review. It just helps us amplify our reach, and it helps others like you find us as well. I'll be very, very happy if you could leave us a review and give us a five-star rating. Thank you so much for following The Job Hunting Podcast.
Renata: Okay. So here are my five, Oh, sorry, 10, my 10 tips on how you can, if you want now or in the future, transition from having a corporate career to having your own business. This is what I've done. My main expertise is in helping people find jobs, and that's what I want to focus on, but I do get a lot of questions. So here are my top 10 tips on how I did it, and hopefully, it will help you as well.
Renata: First of all, I spent a lot of time ruminating on my ideas and letting it percolate over time. And I feel like if you are a corporate professional and you have a corporate job, and you have a salary, and you can spend time whilst you have a salary and whilst you have that security in thinking and planning ahead before you transition into having your own business, that is probably going to be a very conservative and less risky way to transition into having your own business. What I find really hard is when I have colleagues or friends or even clients that have already left their corporate jobs, and then they start planning for their businesses and, you know, planning and validating your ideas that can take a long time. And also, it can be quite a long time without you making money out of it. So that's why I felt like, for me personally, having that idea over time grow and plan it whilst I had my corporate job was probably a very good way for me to transition.
Renata: Number two was, in fact, very much like the number one tip here, is the idea of validating your plans. If you have a product or service that you are really interested in commercializing, it might be a very good idea to validate it before you commercialize it, right? Because you want to make sure that you have a market for it. I say this with a lot of honesty. I was very aware that what I created with my services doesn't exist, and that is a risky way to start a business, which I do not recommend to others. Ideally, you want to create something that already exists in the market and that you can then have a competitive advantage by making it price-wise, something that is attractive or have some sort of unique quality to your product. But having a product that already exists in the market, it's easier to market.
Renata: It's easier to commercialize it. My services are not out there. They're new. I had to educate my clients. And The Job Hunting Podcast is part of that awareness of how important it is to have a coach, but then making my services really accessible by making them on-demand online and accessible as a course, rather than a one-on-one coaching program that's more understood in the market. It's something that I'm still working on, and it's working for me, but it's a more challenging route to follow. I have spent a lot of time validating my idea. I've made hundreds of calls, and that is something that is really important to do before you go to market. So that's my tip number two for you.
Renata: Tip number three is to make sure you have savings or, as we call it in the startup world, a runway to spend that time growing your business without having so many financial worries. And, you know, having those savings are really good. And that's why I think so many people come to me for advice when they're made redundant, because usually they have a package, and they feel like that's enough of a runway to start their own business. And we do talk about that and play scenarios and understand how that can be done. Most times, what I have found in coaching clients that are thinking about having their own business is maybe having a stepping stone next job, next corporate job before the business. Because even though they may have the savings, they haven't validated their ideas or vice versa. Or they have validated their ideas, but they don't have the savings. So, I still have a few clients that have what we call stepping stone jobs that are very interesting because, you know, if you don't have an interesting job, it's hard to carry on. But that will maybe, in three to five years time or even less, allow them to move into having their own businesses. So that's how we play it really safe. Because that's how I like to support my clients is to minimize risks and speed learning for them making sure that they are making the best possible decisions towards their career goals.
Renata: Number four, learn to take care of your personal affairs. So if you're going to be in business and you haven't really spent time understanding how much you spend, what your expenses are, making long-term plans for your life and business, understanding how you invest your money and you invest your time. That will be really hard for you moving from a corporate job to a business owner mentality. Again, I speak from experience. I was incredibly spoiled as a corporate professional. I had support, I had teams, I had staff, I had other people that could do all the work for me. I was, you know, at the end of my corporate career, more in a strategic role than an operational role.
Renata: And, I had a great team of colleagues and people that worked for me that, you know, were in the thick of it, and were the workhorses doing all the heavy lifting. Once you become your own business, then you have to do that heavy lifting yourself in understanding all the ins and outs of budgeting and PNLs. And all of that for your personal life will be very important as you move towards then growing your own business. I would strongly encourage that you start doing that for your personal expenses and for your career planning. And from there, you can grow into understanding how much or how little you will need in the next years when you're growing your business. And then as a business owner, what type of business do you want to have? Will it be a lifestyle business? Will you want to sell it later? All of these things are things that you should think before you go down that path, I believe.
Renata: Number five is, get help. And again, this is easier done when you A have savings or B you're still percolating the idea. So for example, by the time I was ready to jump into that bandwagon of having my own business, I already knew the people that I would call upon to help me right at the beginning. You know, I had an accountant that I knew I wanted. I had an insurance guy that I knew I wanted, up until now, I wasn't able to afford a CFO, but I'm now, once I'm back from this trip, I'm contacting Megan who is going to be working on my plans for growth. And I very quickly identified somebody to support my business, especially the podcasting and the video editing. And I have Estella, who is my podcast, producer and manager. So you really need to understand the opportunity cost of not wanting to do it all because you will not be able to once you start growing.
Renata: But even, you know, as small as you want to be, it will always be a lot of work to do everything yourself. So especially a good accountant that can identify what type of business you should have from the get-go will be very important. So I would strongly recommend that that really helped me personally. And there could be other areas like, for example, if you are an accountant and you're opening up your business, maybe you will need the help from a marketing person. Whereas my background is more in marketing and sales. So I'm very comfortable doing that and needed help where my weaknesses were. So you have to identify what your weaknesses are or where you will spend a lot of your time and then find somebody to support you so that you can focus on where the areas of growth are and where the revenue is going to come from rather than all of those tiny little tasks that take up so much of your time, and don't bring you any money.
Renata: Number six, you still won't know a lot. Even if you do all of the planning and ideation and validation and all of those things that I'm recommending that you do before starting your business, there will be a lot of things you don't know how to do. And that's where I think it is worth investing in. And I have personally invested in things that didn't work for me. And I wanted to, you know, share with you some of the things that did work for me very well. So one of the things that I did at the beginning was to work on a website that everybody uses called WordPress. And I found that incredibly fiddly and hard to do. I need a lot of help to get things done on WordPress. And then, once I found Kajabi, I was so much more confident in my own skills and happy, and I just had the best support team. The Kajabi team is great, and it really, really suits my needs.
Renata: So I am an online educator. I have online courses, and Kajabi was built to do exactly that. And I've had a couple of colleagues who are coaching and have already developed training programmes that they were doing face to face. And they're now transitioning into Kajabi because after COVID, there's so much that can be done online, it's more easily accepted as well. And it's so global, and it's excellent as a platform to be used. So that works for me. Now, if you have a product and not a service, then there are other platforms that may be more suitable to you, of course. Kajabi is good if you are planning on developing some sort of membership or community or online course. And, you know, once you go on their website, I'll put a link in the show notes below, you will see that there's quite a lot of people that you may know of that use Kajabi. But, you know, it's amazing, like from farmers, teaching people how to raise goats, all the way to yoga instructors, or myself. A lot of people use Kajabi these days, and it's a great platform to use.
Renata: It has all my CRM, so the customer relationship management and mailing and all my newsletters, the payments, everything I do through that. Whereas when I was using WordPress, I had to constantly be looking at what plugin I needed to add on to WordPress to make it work for me. And it was incredibly time-consuming. And I feel like even though it was free to start off with, it ended up being more expensive in the long run. Not only because I was constantly in need of tech support, but then I had to always buy these plugins, and it just didn't work. The other thing that I didn't know how to do, at least because I didn't know how to do because I had never done it before, was to actually launch, launch a product, and launch products online. Even if you have a physical store, even if you'd have a physical product that you want to sell, launching things are mainly done online. The marketing on Instagram or Facebook or Google or LinkedIn, and the step-by-step in what you do first and what the priorities are and what's most important.
Renata: I really struggled with the launching process, and I found that there is a great expert in this, Steph's Taylor. Steph is based here in Australia, but she has clients, and she coaches people from all over the world. She has a program called Magic Launch, and it's a three-month program that really helped me relaunch Job Hunting Made Simple earlier this year. So I joined magic launch. I think it was November 2020 it's on November. Yeah. Yeah. And then it went for three months, and everybody that joins that program will probably launch around the same time. So we all launched in February, and Steph will teach you step-by-step how to actually launch a book or a service or a business or whatever. So it's really interesting, a lot of tools and resources are shared. There's also this amazing community of people that are all launching together.
Renata: So I learned not only from Steph but also from the other people that were doing the program with me. And I will be doing it again, in fact, so it restarts in May, and the reason why I'm doing it again is because it helps me be accountable and consistent. But also because launching things online these days, you know, the algorithms change all the time. The rules on Facebook and Instagram and everywhere they change all the time. And Steph is the expert in this, so she has a team, and she's very good at sharing the most up-to-date information. And I just don't have time to learn it in any other way. I just read a, do the three-month program with her. And if you want to do it with me and join the Magic Launch again in May, I will have a link below in the show notes, the episode show notes, so that you can follow what she does, and if you want, you might want to join me and do it in May as well.
Renata: I am very, very happy with how my launch went last time. So I can't wait to redo it. The other thing that I found even though I do it quite well, I think, and people often say, Oh, you know, your website is so well designed, it's so well-developed. It's mainly because of Kajabi, but sometimes I just don't have the time to do the website design the way that I want it to be, which is nice and, you know, a great experience for whoever lands on it. So I found through somebody who did the magic launch with me earlier this year, I found out about templates that you can purchase online for both WordPress and Kajabi. So if you're using WordPress, you can still buy those ready-made website templates that have matching social media creatives that you can use. It is just perfect.
Renata: So if you're not very good at designing websites, and landing pages, and Instagram posts, and all of that, you can purchase these templates and use them. And I strongly recommend this brand that I will put the link below because it has great instructions that you can follow, and you can change the colors and you can change the photos. And I have used them a couple of times to launch new things, like, for example, The Optimise Job Search Workshop and The Optimised Job Search Schedule have all been done using these templates because I was running out of time. It was close to Christmas. I really wanted to launch it. And I didn't have time to do all of the templating myself. So I'm like, wow, okay, these are not that expensive.
Renata: And I can just buy them, and they are ready. That's fantastic. So I will be using them again, for sure. I really enjoyed how easy they were to do. And I know that it makes people really uncomfortable, the idea of developing websites, and they can be very expensive as well if you want to pay somebody to do it. So I think that those three things, Kajabi, Magic Launch, and these ready templates, can make developing your business a much easier pursuit.
Renata: The other thing that I like to let people know is that once you start promoting your business, you will get busy. You will get very busy. And one of the things that I have found was really hard to manage was my inbox and all of the meetings that, all of a sudden, I was having to book. Especially because I am a coach and people want to talk to me first before they sign up. Or then they sign up, and they need to book their coaching sessions.
Renata: So I know Calendly is a very popular choice for calendar management for many people, but I personally tried it, and I actually prefer a different one called Harmonizely. I just found Harmonizely easier to brand and also to link to Kajabi. And I'm assuming that there will be just as easy to link to WordPress or any other website. I found that the questions were easier to design, so I can design a little questionnaire. So if somebody wants to book a time with me, I can ask them why and what they want to know, and things like that. So I just found that Harmonizely was a better solution, even though they're not as popular as some of the other solutions out there. I'll put a link below as well if you want to try that for free. I pay, I think, $9 a month or something it's not too expensive just to have some extra features, but you know, it's up to you. I had it for free for a long time before I decided to pay a little bit extra for extra features. So try the free version to see if that's something that you might like. So if you want to have less emails, backwards and forwards between you and the people you want to meet, then I strongly recommend any type of calendar management app, but Harmonizely is my favorite.
Renata: Tip number eight from me is to be careful who you get advice from. And, you know, maybe the advice that I'm giving you here is not for you. But what I have found is that you have to really be strict and ruthless. Otherwise, it will never get off the ground because everybody will have tips and advice for you. And everybody will have an opinion. And most of the time as well people have no idea. They haven't had a business, or maybe they had a business three decades ago or a long time ago, and things these days tend to change very fast. So be careful who you get advice from. If you want to move towards being your own person and having your own business, you will have to make those judgement calls as to who you want to include, as your, let's say, board people, you know, people that have direct influence on your business.
Renata: And I am very careful as well because I find that, for example, some people that are very close to me, even family members or friends, they don't have the entrepreneur DNA that I do. They never wanted to have a business. So it's harder for them to understand why the hell I went down this path. And you may have that experience as well. People that love you and care about you but are very wary about your next steps. And the best thing that I did was to think like this, and I still think this way, ‘Look, if it doesn't work, I can always go back to my corporate career.’
Renata: And I know I can, and I know you can as well. So make sure that you develop a plan where you set yourself a limit, financially, and time-wise to make sure that if it doesn't go well, you can step back and restart your corporate career if you need to. I know a lot of people that have done this and have been very successful transitioning back to their corporate jobs. And I think maybe, you know, a bit of coaching may help you ensure that you are doing the best possible decisions for you. So contact me and have a chat with me if you think that you want to go back into your corporate job and you've been struggling with your business. Or if you want to step into your business idea with the safety and the ability to go back to your corporate career if it doesn't work, I think it's completely fine to have different strings to your bow, as they say, and not to burn any bridges along the way. And this is a way that I found that I could not only feel safe myself on the decisions that I was making but also make the people around me feel safe as well.
Renata: Number nine, be careful how you spend your money and how not to spend your money is also very important. A few times at the beginning of my business, I probably spent money with things that I didn't need. It was either because I didn't understand the timeframes and I thought I needed them, but in fact, I would only need them later on, or they were vanity things that I thought would look good for me to have. And in fact, they weren't adding anything to my brand or to my ability to commercialize my service. And they were, you know, just dumb expenses. So I would recommend that you be very conservative in what you sign up for.
Renata: And a lot of times, you might want to sign up for something for a whole year because it's cheaper. But if you sign up first on a monthly basis, you can test things out. Especially because so much of what you do these days is for subscription. So even the Harmonizely, or the Kajabi, so many things that I can think of, you know, one drives and Dropboxes and all of those things Trello's and all of those things that you may want to sign up early on, frankly, you may not need them so early. I know I've made some dumb decisions signing up too early, too soon to things that aren't, you know, I had to be bigger to actually use them. So sign up monthly and don't spend your money with things that you don't need or things that you may be doing just for vanity, and they're not going to really make any difference in terms of how you commercialize your services or products.
Renata: And number 10, be patient and be positive. It takes time for a business to turn around. It takes time to learn how to run a business. You need to really go through. I have found you really need to go through a full 12-month cycle to understand consumer sentiment, ebbs and flows, how people spend their money during the year when you're going to be selling more when you're going to be selling less. Things that affect your sales, like holidays and vacations and economic crises and anything that's happening in the environment. And also, because you want to constantly be reviewing and simplifying, and refocusing on what's more important for your business to be successful. I find personally that because I do have that entrepreneurial gene, I often have too many ideas that I think are great, and it's easy to lose focus.
Renata: So you have to be patient, be positive. Remember why you were doing this. And remember, what is your main reason for wanting to have your own business and focusing on that. Reminding yourself that these things do take time and look, frankly, it can take three years for a business to be successful. It can take two years. It's very rare that you will be selling and being super, super successful in your first year. That doesn't really exist in my books. I haven't seen it. And you shouldn't expect that for you. You know, we like winning the lottery and getting everything right from the get-go. So an update from me as to how my business is going, my business is going well. But if you had asked me six months ago, I wouldn't have known. Frankly, I wouldn't have known how it was going.
Renata: I just had a lot of faith and a lot of energy, which I still do. And then things started turning around, and every month I was doing better and better, but for the first two or three months, I thought maybe it's a fluke. Maybe it's just this month. And then, you know, the consistency started building up over time. But that was, as I said, an investment of many years of planning and about a year and a half of the business launching firstly quite slowly before COVID, and then making a decision back in March 2020 to invest a hundred percent of my time in career coaching rather than trying to find business clients for my business consulting arm. And that paid off. That paid off big time. I am now very happy with the way that the career coaching business and the services that I have are going.
Renata: And I think that that's where my passion has always been. If you've listened to my episode on my career story, you would know that I am really passionate about doing this project. I'm calling it a project, and it's becoming really a hundred percent of my time. I'm always thinking about it. And I enjoy every moment of working with my clients and my group coaching program and delivering on the services online. So you have to really have that passion and that commitment and be patient and be positive so that you can see the results over time.
Renata: I hope that you've enjoyed this episode. It's not the sort of episodes that you will see here very often. Next week we will be back talking about transitioning into the corporate sector into an executive career. And, you know, this might be something that you might want to consider overtime and having your own business, maybe consulting after an extensive career, as an experienced executive. Or something completely different like property development or cosmetic line, or, you know, something else completely out of the blue.
Renata: And if you want to discuss any of these ideas with me, you can book a time to talk to me, have a 30-minute free discovery call, and we can do a little bit of brainstorming to see how you can transition to your business in the next few years. You can book a time to speak to me on my website, https://www.renatabernarde.com/ , and go to contact. And you will find my details there and the Harmonizely link to book a time in my calendar. And you will find all of the details of the products and ideas that I shared with you in this episode, in the episode show notes, or on the podcast blog on my website as well, go to https://www.renatabernarde.com/ and look for podcasts. And there will be the episode show notes there with all of the details. Bye for now, and until next time.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, , on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
Contact Renata Bernarde
I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.
My free resources for job hunters: The Optimized Job Search: Weekly Schedule & Masterclass.
Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching: RenataBernarde.com