Is getting laid off a sign to start your own thing?

getting laid off

getting laid off

//Photo Courtesy: Julie Harris Designs//

Something I’ve really enjoyed since starting this blog are the emails, texts, and phone calls from readers and friends asking for advice about their jobs, careers, and businesses. I love giving advice, but frankly it’s also been a relief to learn I’m not the only one who’s gone head-to-head with corporate America.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m now inspired to not only use this blog to share my stories, but to also share the stories of my readers and friends. Which leads me to today’s post. Last week I received this text message from a friend:

“Soooo …. I got let go from my job today. And I’m in this weird period where my side project is ramping up. We’re not making any money – but we signed on like 5 clients (right now for free) – anyways … This is the second time this year where I have been let go only after two months. And to be honest – I get so bored at these jobs. I just sit there waiting time. What should my next move be?”

Just to be clear, while I was humbled she reached out to me, I don’t necessarily like receiving text messages like this. Being laid off feels shitty. Even when it’s not necessarily a job you love, it’s a blow to your ego and can feel unsettling, believe me I know.

I’ve also been in this exact position, and can attest to how stressful it is. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bug and the last two times I’ve been laid off, I’ve had a side-business in it’s infancy. Both times I considered taking the opportunity to build Work It Web and begin freelance consulting. The first time, I decided to take another corporate job. The second time, well, that’s when I decided it was time for a change.

If you have a side-hustle that’s gaining steam, it can be tempting to take a layoff as a sign to pursue entrepreneurship. But is that necessarily the best decision? It’s the question my friend, and anyone in this position, has to answer.

I thought hard about what I wanted to text back to my friend. Do I encourage her to start her own thing, or do I tell her I think it’s impractical at this stage? I decided to lay out the options as realistically and honestly as I could. In this scenario, I really see only two courses of action:

1. Go for it.

Make your side-hustle your full-time J.O.B and  grind it out.  This takes courage, and it’s possible you may talk yourself out of it a few dozen times before committing.

Your biggest barrier will be finding the means to support yourself without a regular paycheck. This often makes people reconsider the entrepreneurial track. When my friend asked for my advice, I told her if she were to go for it, then she’d have to figure out a temporary money situation (anything but stripping!) and live modestly for a while. Life may be a little uncomfortable until your business starts generating income, but short-term sacrifices are worth the long-term rewards right? Also keep in in mind that with any new business, there’s a risk it may never take off, but the benefit in dropping everything and going for it is knowing you gave it your all.

2. Stand down (for now).

You may not feel confident or ready to take your business full-time. There’s no shame in that, but recognize that the entrepreneurial bug won’t just go away overnight. Here’s what I suggest: Keep nurturing your side-hustle on nights and weekends while you look for another opportunity that builds your professional capital. What I mean by that is this, look for a job that is either what you aspire your business to be or an influencer in your industry. Only entertain jobs and companies that will build your personal brand and klout as a professional.

Rid yourself of another boring job that wastes time. If you’re gonna show up everyday for something that ultimately takes time away from building your business, you need to be getting more than of a paycheck out of it. Think about things like experience, connections, and name recognition. Give yourself a timeline, knowing entrepreneurship is inevitably in your future. You’re time to go for it will come.

These are really the only two options for the budding entrepreneur who’s just been laid off.  So which path did my friend end up choosing? Well let’s just say, there may be another post in the near future about her success.




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