Years ago, I quit a corporate job to start a hot dog stand. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking at the time, but I had been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and had a chance to be my own boss. The hot dog stand didn’t last long as I soon realized it was much more work than I had originally thought. However, I now know that I didn’t quit my day job properly. Instead, I should have “Engineered my Layoff!

By quitting my job, I gave up any rights to unemployment or severance (which I don’t think I could have qualified for at the time), that would have been beneficial during the “start up” phase of my stand. It may have also increased my chances of success. As many new businesses don’t bring in a profit those first few months, I couldn’t continue grilling dogs on such a paltry income.

Had Sam Dogen’s How to Engineer your Layoff book been around back then, I could have used it to assist me in making a better choice in how I was going to “quit” my job. Being laid off would have secured unemployment benefits for me long enough to launch the stand properly. Instead, I closed it just 6 weeks after starting it and headed back to corporate with my tail between my legs.

If you’re seriously thinking of going off on your own, take these tips to heart:

  • Read Sam’s book, How to Engineer Your Layoff
  • Make sure you have an emergency fund saved up, enough to get you through at least 6-12 months of expenses (or more!)
  • Do your homework before starting a business – make sure you have a potential client base and have a plan on how to market your business and make money!  You don’t need a full-blown business plan, but having a strategy will help you become successful.

I’ve known far too many people who didn’t have these preparations completed and had to “close shop” before giving their business a chance. Don’t be like me, “engineer your layoff!”

What experiences have you had negotiating a severance package or layoff?