Long before the Great Resignation, people were asking themselves:
- “Should I be quitting my job with nothing lined up?”
- “Should I quit my job without a plan?”
- “Should I quit my job and just start a business?”
- “Should I quit my job and follow my dream?
In fact, I recently saw a posting on a forum for entrepreneurs that read something like this:
“I am so sick of being broke! I quit my high paying job to pursue my dream, and I now I never have any money. My prescription just ran out, and I can’t afford to go get it refilled! Wondering if I made a huge mistake!?”
The posting got lots of encouraging comments about “Oh girl, you can manifest more money if you just set your mind to it!” and “It’ll be ok–keep following your dream and believing!”
Apparently I was the only one thinking, “Yes, you’ve made a huge mistake.”
A Reality Check About Quitting Your Job to Start a Business
There are circumstances when quitting your job without anything lined up is the best choice. We’ll get to that in a moment. But first…
To whomever* on the internet is selling people the dream that if you do what you love and work really hard you will make lots of money, please stop.
*Mostly privileged lifestyle business coaches who stand to profit off you trying to start a business. And I’m all for folks starting a business (hello, I did), but there are wise and unwise ways to go about it.
Your passion is not a guarantee towards income. Your hard work is not a guarantee towards income. Here’s the deal: there’s no guarantee.
An untested, unproved new business is not a plan; it’s an experiment. Quitting your job to start a business (especially if you’ve never built a business before) is not “having something lined up.” It’s quitting your job to conduct what is likely a multi-year experiment in working for yourself, providing a service or selling a product, becoming a manager, sales rep, marketing manager, customer service rep, and more.
Your commitment or enthusiasm are not a guarantee of income, and it’s hard to predict how long it will take for your business to support you.
When you decide to start a business, do it intentionally. Horde a savings cushion. Hire a business coach. Consult a financial advisor. Plan your Crossfade. Do more than cross your fingers hope that it will work out so you can afford to refill your prescriptions.
Let’s say that starting a business is not on your mind. You just want to quit. What then?
Know Why You Want to Quit
Knowing why you want to quit can help you determine a good course of action.
1. If you’re burned out
Do you need to quit, or do you just need a break? If you’re burned out, quitting your job for good might not be the answer (or the only answer). There are four questions to ask to help you decide if you should quit or take a break; answer before you quit.
Read More: Should You Quit Your Job, or Take a Break?
2. If you want to use the time to figure out what career would be best
Having seen this play out with multiple clients, I do not recommend quitting a job so you’ll have time to reflect, volunteer, and experiment with the goal of figuring out your next career move. It seems like a logical thing to do but usually backfires, leaving people more tangled and confused that when they started (and minus income).
3. If a toxic workplace is harming your health
If you’re in a toxic work environment that’s harming your physical or mental health, it’s time to plan your exit. Even if you intend to quit soon it’s best to do so with a game plan in place, even if that plan does not include having a job lined up. Be strategic about when you give your notice and what financial safeguards you can have in place, and get the heck out of there.
So yes, you can quit your job with nothing lined up, but make sure you know why you’re quitting, that quitting will actually improve the situation, and have a game plan in place.