Your best marketing network may be the company you’re about to leave. Many of my clients don’t like to hear this but unfortunately it’s quite true. Even if your boss is an ass, your co-workers only recently evolved from neanderthals and your customers make Joe Stalin seem patient, it’s a good idea to tread lightly when leaving and in many cases it’s a better idea not to leave completely at all.
THE toughest thing to do when launching a consulting business is to find customers who will trust you with their work. Unless you find work with one of the big consulting firms that can leverage their reputation, you’ll find it extremely hard to convince someone that you’ll do good work for them because you can’t prove that you’ve done it in the past. The only people that really know your work are the people that currently work beside you day in and day out. That would be the ass, neanderthals and the Stalin impressionists. There’s an old saying “you only win if you get their money” and here’s some thoughts on how to achieve that.
If you really want to leave completely, make sure you do it slowly with lots of notice and even volunteer to do lots of free work even after you’ve left. Think of all this as the cheapest marketing you’ll ever do. Indeed, even if you’re still doing some freebies for them years later it’s still a great deal for you. They will remember you, refer you to others and act as your references if need be.
Another strategy used by some of my clients is to never quite leave. Work part time or negotiate a small consulting gig with them. Yes, you’ll make less money and probably work more than before but believe me it’s a bargain compared to sitting at home for days on end wondering when those customers will start streaming in.
I’ve stormed out of a few jobs in the past, unable to take it anymore. I always regretted it. I’ve never been a big fan of kissing a** on my way out but age and a tiny drop of wisdom have finally crept in it seems. When I have slipped out the door quietly and with either some work in my pocket from the firm or with an ongoing relationship, it has always worked in my favour. Give it a try if you’re thinking of making the big break. It could very well be the best decision you’ve ever made!