How to use your corporate work experience to become a successful freel


p 1 read this if the great resignation has you fantasizing about quitting to be your own boss

Should you’ve ever been an worker, I wager you’ve fantasized about resigning no less than as soon as. I used to be a type of Fortune 500 staff who caught a firm shuttle to an workplace park. This was prime time for podcasts and fantasizing about life outdoors the workplace.

My corporate work experience was fairly uncommon. I didn’t comply with a predefined profession path. I began as an government assistant and moved to being a enterprise analyst. I then reinvented myself as an Agile coach. Within the later years of my profession, I noticed myself as an intrapreneur, bringing an entrepreneurial mindset into corporate land.

Regardless of my upward profession trajectory, I made a decision to depart the security web of a wage. I needed to take a look at my entrepreneurial abilities with out the plush workplace and canteen lunch. With a head stuffed with podcasts, Instagram posts, and programs, I launched an online coaching business as a solopreneur in January 2020.


However I shortly realized I wasn’t ready. As useful as all the web sources have been, placing them into apply didn’t translate into sustainable work. So as an alternative, I turned again to the construction I’d realized in huge enterprise. Listed below are the Fortune 500 classes I used to launch and run my solopreneur enterprise.

1. Firm imaginative and prescient and values matter

In a giant group, the subject of “tradition” appears like a perpetual philosophical debate. You may spend days in workshops desirous about altering hearts and minds with an inspiring imaginative and prescient and linked values. However actually, the layers of hierarchy and particular person motivation are close to inconceivable to shift.

As a solopreneur, you’ve the benefit of creating a vision and values which might be actually from your coronary heart.

Defining my private vision of success and values gave me the boldness to depart my job. It abruptly grew to become clear that my life-style didn’t match my values. Whereas my job supplied monetary safety and entry to a luxurious life-style of restaurant dinners and designer purses, I had little or no private time. I spotted I most popular lengthy walks in nature and dawn swims in icy lakes, not midnight dinners and enterprise class journey.

I began my enterprise primarily based on my values and imaginative and prescient. This helped me prioritize the work that moved me nearer to my desires. It has additionally saved me motivated at instances when work is overwhelming or uncertain.


2. Promote your self to CEO

Beginning my profession as an executive assistant gave me insider information of how CEOs work.

Earlier than the 2008 monetary disaster and subsequent price cuts, I labored in a group of 5 supporting one CEO. On high of scheduling personal jets and conferences with presidents, we made certain there was time for train. The CEO was a higher particular person with a common swim or stroll. My largest takeaway from working in a vary of government workplaces: CEOs are individuals too. And you’ve got each proper to give your self the identical respect as a CEO.

Begin by giving your self VIP remedy. You could not get crimson carpets rolled out or personal jets, however you can take your self severely. Get to know your vitality. Discover a routine that helps you. Nourish your self with good meals. Take breaks for contemporary air and train.

Most significantly, respect your time. When working with shoppers and clients, bear in mind the worth of your vitality. Be strategic with taking over work and shoppers that encourage you. You’ve gotten the facility to say no to work which may be costing you greater than cash.

3. Bootstrap your funds

“Disrupt or be disrupted” is the sentiment echoing round conventional companies. In my last years of corporate life, I labored as an Agile lead on a modernization and transformation group. We needed to convey the start-up dream to a 100+-year-old firm.

Sarcastically, regardless of recessions and price cuts, having a funds typically bought in the way in which of doing issues in a different way.

As a solopreneur, I’ve one possibility: bootstrap. I’ve to work successfully and create worth, or I don’t receives a commission. I launched the naked bones of my enterprise in a day and introduced to the world on Instagram that I used to be open for enterprise. With that, I put collectively a landing page with a hyperlink to a playlist of the podcasts that impressed me in change for electronic mail addresses. (I’ve realized a ton about digital design since then, and my style in podcasts has modified dramatically, however this web page served its function.)

Inside a week, I had a website up and operating—which I then spent three months modifying as I realized extra about copywriting.

Bootstrapping helps you perceive what creates worth. Be taught from corporate aspirations, and do what huge firms wrestle to.

4. Use espresso as forex

After I needed to transfer out of my PA position, I didn’t match another job description. The recommendation I used to be given was to community. Attain out to individuals for mentorship. Arrange a 30-minute espresso to find out about what they do.

In a 70,000 particular person group, I shortly discovered connections. Via that community, I may informally present how my abilities translated to different jobs and finally bought a position as a enterprise analyst.


As a solopreneur, my new workplace is my Instagram account. Right here, I’ve one billion individuals to community with. As a substitute of being overwhelmed, I act as if every particular person I join with is a colleague—this offers me the boldness to build new relationships.

From my rising community, I’ve skilled the worth of relationships past discovering new shoppers. I collaborate with different enterprise house owners internet hosting workshops and creating sources. I even created a group by internet hosting co-working calls and digital espresso catch-ups.

These private relationships led to enterprise alternatives I couldn’t have imagined once I began. As well as to my teaching work, I now have a writing service, the place I share teaching insights for start-ups and consultancies. And I use my networking abilities to assist firms begin their very own communities of apply.

5. Do quarterly efficiency critiques

I used to dread efficiency critiques. It felt tacked on to my work and like I had to retroactively match what I’d accomplished to some summary objectives. So the very last thing I anticipated was to preserve efficiency critiques as a part of my solopreneur life-style.

However with the tempo of studying, rising, and adapting, I’ve discovered that giving myself a quarterly “away day” helps me make clear my priorities and focus.

I additionally found one thing new in these quarterly critiques: they gave me house to adapt my schedule with the seasons. Among the best advantages of working for your self is managing your personal time. Now I’m extra conscious of matching my schedule to my energy: in winter, I sleep in later; in summer time, I take seaside breaks.

I use these instances to give attention to my life holistically. They’ve been so efficient that I created a group teaching program referred to as Q Review. On this program, we collect as a group of CEOs to assist one another and create the house to align our lives with our legacy.

6. Discover your work rhythm

In 2009, assembly “cadence” was the buzzword in our workplace. We experimented with schedules to see what was the simplest cycle for conferences. And once I found Agile, I fell in love with two-week sprints.

Whereas I don’t have colleagues to meet with, I nonetheless get pleasure from working in a two-week rhythm. The truth is, I’ve discovered an uncommon accountability buddy: the moon. The total and new moon are roughly two weeks aside. On the Monday (Moon-day) closest to the complete and new moon, I set an intention for the subsequent two weeks. These intentions have changed inflexible objectives, and the apply retains me trustworthy in how I’m structuring my time.

On the finish of the 2 weeks, I maintain a private retrospective and search for an enchancment I could make in my course of.

7. Take into account your future org chart

Essentially the most confidential assembly I ever organized was referred to as the “chessboard”: it’s the place the group chart was mentioned. Who would take over what position? Who was up and coming? Should you have been mentioned in that assembly, your profession was wanting good.

You’re the CEO of your enterprise, however you’re additionally possible the cleaner too. Washing the dishes isn’t off my to-do checklist for lengthy. So although I’m bootstrapping my enterprise, I like to act as if I’ve a group, to account for all of the totally different roles I play.

I preserve monitor of how much my time is worth and the way a lot it might price to outsource different jobs. Why? There might be many rising pains in a new enterprise, however deciding when to hire someone may be one of the crucial difficult. If you understand how a lot you have to be paying your self—even in the event you’re not incomes that earnings but—you’ll know the way a lot your time is price. It will make it simpler to know if you’re prepared to outsource or rent common assist.

Freelance freedom

I left my Fortune 500 job to align with my worth of non-public freedom. It would appear to be freedom is about being fluid, however I’ve discovered that utilizing the construction I realized in corporate has given me the assist I used to be in search of. This assist offers me the boldness to create the enterprise and life-style I used to be trying to find, and it’s led to new development and enterprise alternatives because it helped me reinvent my profession.

This article initially appeared on Zapier’s blog and is reprinted with permission.