Leaving the comfortable confines of a high-paying yet unsatisfying corporate role can be frightening.

But many who have taken the leap will tell you the risks of financial insecurity, loneliness and working harder than ever before are worth the rewards.

Rhian Allen worked in the corporate world as a senior publishing executive for 12 years before she finally took the plunge and started The Healthy Mummy, a professional health and fitness website for breastfeeding mothers.

“I had always known I had wanted to do my own business, but I had never really known what that looked like and how I would do it,” she told The Huffington Post Australia.

“And as I kept advancing up the career ladder, I ended up staying longer than I should have.”

Rhian Allen knew motherhood and her corporate life wouldn’t work for her, so she took a risk and left her high-paying executive job to start The Healthy Mummy site.

Allen says the fear of not earning a decent wage through small business was her number one fear.

“I had a very highly paid job,” she said. “I was a Senior Director earning one of the top salaries and bonuses in the company, and it was a very big decision to leave that financial security blanket and to go out on my own.

“But how I justified my wild move was that I 100 percent believed in myself, and I still do. If I failed at my business in a major way, then at least I had tried it and the media industry in which I had 12 years’ experience would still be there and I could always go back and get another job.”

Allen made the decision to start her business once she fell pregnant and realised that corporate life as she knew it and motherhood wouldn’t mesh.

She studied nutrition in her spare time and her own pregnancy inspired the idea for her site, which helps new mothers lose the weight they gain through pregnancy.

“My own passion for health and fitness became my mental escape from the daily onslaught of corporate life,” she said. “As soon as I realised I could do something positive in life for others and could also make a living from it, the decision was easy and I threw myself into it 110 percent and I never looked back.”

“I love to feel in control of my own destiny, and not having to answer to a boss.”

Allen says she derives a huge sense of satisfaction from her venture.

“I love to feel in control of my own destiny, and not having to answer to a boss,” she said. “Although I do see all my customers as my ‘boss’. I certainly don’t work less hours than someone not working their own business, but I have the flexibility to choose the hours I am in the office or when I work, and I love being able to take risks and see them come off.”

Gavin Sequeira, author of Break Free From Corporate, says starting a small business can be seen as risky, but so can having a job.

“A job isn’t guaranteed,” he told HuffPost Australia. “You could have been in that job for 10 or 20 years, you could even be the CEO of the company — you can still be replaced.

“There is no certainty anymore.”

Author Gavin Sequeira says you need to have the right mindset to move from corporate to small business — and don’t rush the decision.

Sequeira says many skills transfer from corporate to small business — from customer service, discipline in sticking to deadlines, managing employees if you were in a senior role.

Understanding how a profitable outfit works is also a bonus — and delegation of areas where you are not a specialist is key.

“You’ve got to make all these decisions and you are the finance person,” he said. “It’s not easy because you may not have all these skills. One of the things you learn as you go through this process is to learn new skills or outsource or bring in a business partner.”

Here are a few of Sequeira’s top tips for breaking out of corporate and into the world of small business.

1. Start with yourself

Changing your mindset is the first step to changing your working life, Sequeira said.

“Probably the biggest mindset is self-belief: Can I do this?” he said. “You can be in corporate and have an amazing lifestyle, but entrepreneurs will tell you that you can create a life of your own and set your own rules and you don’t have to work for the man.”

2 Don’t be a commitment-phobe

Going into business to purely make money won’t get you far, Sequeira said. You really need to be passionate about your venture for it to be successful.

“You really need to immerse yourself in something and you’ve got to be committed to it because you’re talking about your life, your future,” he said.

3. Don’t rush it — and no emotional decisions

Unless you are forced into change, perhaps through restructuring and redundancy, take time to prepare for your transition to small business through upskilling or saving to finance it.

“I have seen very senior vice presidents of companies who are very smart people who make the most ridiculous decisions and go and buy a franchise or coffee shop and spend $400-500,000,” he said.

“And now they are heavily in debt because they didn’t research it and that have run that business into the ground in 12 months.”

4 Surround yourself with positive vibes

You need a lot of support to run your own business, says Sequeira, especially when your friends still have jobs and you’re living on Struggle Street trying to get your business moving.

“f you don’t have good quality people around you to motivate and inspire you, you need to look at changing your environment,” he said.

5. Show yourself the money

The difference between failure and success is all about expectations, Sequeira said.

Do a budget and work out what income you can realistically make, the bottom line that you can afford to live on, investigate loans and grants and consider your options — could you work part-time while you start the business?

“You need to have a healthy relationship with money and most people don’t,” he said.

“If you are in a job now, pretend you didn’t have it and work out what would be your base level of income you need to survive and how else could you earn it if wasn’t through your job,” he said.

“It’s also watching your expenses and curbing your lifestyle because you’ve got to make sacrifices when you have your own business.”


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