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"Before you punch your last timecard."


In many cases, when you turn in your resignation, you're done, finished, and kaput.  Even if your company doesn’t require a two weeks notice, I suggest you give them a resignation letter anyway.  It’s more professional; and you’ll leave on better terms.  Keep your letter positive; include how you’ve benefited from the company; and wish the employees and the company the best in the future.  Your goal is to leave your job with your head held high while projecting a professional demeanor.

It’s true that some companies will want you out the door by the end of the day or even immediately.  If it's immediately, you will be asked to box up your personal items and you'll be escorted to the door.  But, if you take the time to get your ducks in a row before you quit, you will have a smoother transition. Then, when you submit your resignation letter, you’ll be ready if your boss says, “You’re ‘outta here!”

13 Things to Do Now to Eliminate Your Afterthought of “Coulda’, woulda’, shoulda’.”

1. Save up so you'll have financial padding.
Some experts recommend that you save a minimum of six months for living expenses.  While others advise that you should accumulate a year's worth of expense money.  The reality of business ownership is that you won’t make money right away and will need money to pay your rent/mortgage, utilities, food, gasoline, internet connection, etc.  I’d suggest saving enough money to live off of for eight to 12 months.  And frankly, it’s very difficult to give your future clients your very best if you’re worried about money all the time.  Having a healthy savings balance can help remove much of that fear and worry, enabling you to focus on your start-up.

2. Follow the money.
Log your expenses for the next month into a budget; keep a detailed journal of every dollar you spend.  Then, group them into three categories: critical, important, nice-to-have.  Now, cut out at least 80%, preferably more, of the nice-to-have expenses for the next 6 to 12 months.  Not easy to do, I know. Determine cheaper alternatives you can live with for your first 12 months of business operations.

3. Reduce or eliminate your debts.
Credit card interest rates are hard to manage even when you’re working at a regular job.  They’re even harder to manage while you are trying to get a business up and running.  If you can pay them off, do so. If not, maybe a debt consolidation loan is the way to go.  Banks, credit unions, and debt-management companies provide these types of loans.  It’s much easier to get a loan while you’re working, so do it now.

4. Ask your credit card companies to lower your interest rates.
Even with the state the economy is in right now, credit card companies are still sending out “better deals.”  You may be able to use them to negotiate a better rate with your current credit card company. Let them know that you’ve been a loyal customer for X number of years and you’d like to continue that relationship.  However, you’ve been getting better offers from other companies and you need a better deal from them. In most cases, they’ll agree to cut your rate.  Don’t get defensive; be courteous and calm.

5. Find people to advise you.
Don't quit your job until you have an attorney, an accountant and a mentor lined up.  After you’ve started your business, trying to find a cost effective solution to accounting issue and/or the precise legal answer for your business will be like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.  The best way to find an accountant and an attorney is from referrals from family and friends.  Although looking in the business and yellow pages will provide volumes of listings, you're not assured that they're reputable or even experienced.  Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not suggesting that highly regarded professionals aren't listed in these sources.  But, wouldn't you prefer someone that's helped your favorite aunt and uncle or best friend?  And, a mentor can not only advise you on negotiating your rates and dealing with a difficult client, but can also be a great sounding board for your difficult business decisions.

6. Build your customers.
Ensure you have clients lined up and ready to go.  Promote your new business before you leave your current job.  Make the contacts.  You can’t start marketing too soon.  Most people suggest that you establish relationships with several clients, so that you’re not relying on one or two for all of your income.

7. Increase your auto insurance deductible.
According to a recent article in USA Today, raising the deductible on your car insurance policy from $200 to $500 could reduce the cost of collision and comprehensive coverage by up to 30%.  Raising your deductible to $1,000 could potentially lower your overall premium by 40% or more.  Yes, you’re taking on more risk, but that’s what your eight to 12 months of expense money is for.

8. Trim your cable bill to the bone.
Get quotes on bundling your cable, phone and Internet service.  Ask to apply a promotion to your existing service. If you rarely watch the movie channels, cut them out.  Maybe now is the time to get rid of ALL those premium channels and spend less time watching TV (what a concept!)

9. Health Insurance.
When you quit your job, you’re usually given the opportunity to keep your health insurance.  That’s called COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.)  COBRA contains provisions giving former employees, retirees, spouses and dependent children the right to temporarily continue health coverage at group rates.  It’s usually more expensive than health coverage for active employees, but ordinarily less expensive than individual health coverage.  Investigate other insurance options and have a solid plan in place before you leave your current job.  Get several quotes from different companies and check the policies for their rules on coverage.

10. HR Questions.
So your HR department representative doesn’t raise an eyebrow and pre-empt your resignation, spread these questions out over several months.

•  When will you receive your final paycheck?

•  What happens with your unused vacation and/or sick leave?  How do you get paid for it?

•  You’ve accrued compensatory (comp.) time.  Can you get paid for it or use it to drill down the days of your two week notice? (Yes, sometimes people are allowed to do this.)

•  Are you eligible for severance pay? (There’s no law that requires an employer to pay severance, unless you have a contract that provides for it.)

•  Can you keep, cash in, or rollover your 401K or other pension plan?

•  Can you take/use copyrighted material or product patents that you’ve developed?

11. Know The Jargon.
You should know the “jargon” of business.  By jargon, I mean all the terms, information, resources and expertise that business owners are expected to have.  Learn about how big business works; how small business differs from mainstream corporate affairs; what supply chain means; ROI; 4 Ps, etc.  The internet is a great resource - so use it, and gain the necessary knowledge in advance.

12. Join professional organizations and social networking sites to market you and your business.
The industry you plan to start your business in will dictate the professional group you should join.  For example, if you’re starting a tax service business, you should join the Houston CPA Society.  Also, Internet sites like LinkedIn , InHouston, and Houston meet-up groups are good sources for social networking.

13. Create your website and blog.
These days, if you don't have a website, then you're missing out on a major marketing opportunity. You'll want to do this before you start your business so you can actively market yourself.  VistaPrint is an inexpensive source to set up a free website.  (You can also get 250 free business cards using their layout templates.)  But, remeber my advice a few articles ago, it's not time yet to order those cards.  You have some more pre-venture work to do.  Here’s a commentary from a small business owner about free websites.  Here’s a free blogging resource.  You’ll find other free blogging resources to the right of this page in my Link List. 

These are just 13 of the things you should do before you punch your last timecard. You may have others that are more specific to your circumstances.  This list is static, so add them at will.  Remember, planning is so much easier than looking back and saying “coulda’, woulda’, shoulda’.”

Next article: “Will any road do?”


  • James 5 years ago

    So spray painting "You'll never take me ALIVE!!" on my boss's office door was inappropriate? Oops.

    Thanks for the EXCELLENT tips! Folks currently without a job need to read these as well. They can still use everything other than the "2 week notice" idea.

  • Lea-Ann 5 years ago


    Thank you for the comment. Many of the suggestions I make in my articles can also be applied to the employed and unemplyed.

    So, that was YOU with the spray paint.