If you are old enough you remember a guy named Johnny Paycheck (You can take this job and shove it). I’m sure when that came out it was played many times as people walked out the door and I’m sure it was fantasized about far more than that. Although it sounds like such a wonderful way to end a relationship with your employer, you might want to step back and look at the situation and the options.
Situation: You are leaving your current source of income for an unknown, yet exciting future becoming an entrepreneur, and although you will be very wealthy one day, the exact date that happens is unknown.
There are a lot of unknowns in your future, and if there is a way to extract any terminal value from that relationship now might be a real good time to think about it.
You don’t just have to QUIT your job, there are options:
Become a contractor for your existing company.
Is it possible to be a contractor for the company you are currently working for? In my case it was and I would speculate that would be the case for a lot of small businesses. You have the expertise they need, and they don’t necessarily need you full time. It wouldn’t take long to figure out the win-win in a situation like that, and then you and your current employer just need to work out some terms and you are somewhat free. Make sure the contract you negotiate is better than unemployment benefits, because it you quit and become a contractor and then it turns bad, you do not get to collect unemployment.
Take one for the team.
If your work is seasonal or the company is in a down turn, talk to your boss/supervisor about taking one for the team and be the guy/gal who gets laid-off. I’ve been the boss doing the laying off—trust me, it’s not a job your boss likes, so someone volunteering, mostly someone with a plan like you makes it a win-win again. In this situation you at least have some unemployment benefits. You will have to play by the unemployment rules, which vary from state to state, but it usually involves looking for another job. Play by the rules, do some looking and if something really good comes by, great, otherwise keep working on your own thing. I will caution you that once you start making money doing you own thing you now officially have a real job and will more than likely have to stop collecting unemployment, so make sure that first money is real money, not just a few bucks in your pocket.
Get let go.
The third option gets a little messy, but it gets the job done. If you work at a corporate job where there is a lot of confidentiality or high stakes (Fortune 1000 or similar), get all your ducks in a row and then tell your boss you are looking at other options. Maybe have a friend call HR and ask for an employee reference for you. They will get the hint that you are leaving, and many times they will fire you first. As long as the termination does not break any cardinal unemployment rules (like fighting with the boss), you are eligible for unemployment. You of course need to double check with your local unemployment office about collecting in this case, because everything varies from state to state, so ask this exact question “If I get fired from my current employer while looking for a job can I collect unemployment?” and of course you will want that in writing.
I have both Fortune 500 and DoD experience on my resume and I have witnessed the speed at which employees looking for a job have been shown the door first hand. So, if you are considering the above option make sure you do not have lunch plans, because you too may be surprised at the rate at which HR can move in certain circumstances.
Lastly, just quit.
The very last option is to quit and burn the bridge, but then you leave empty handed. This is by far the least favorable option.
Of course there is that moral dilemma of becoming an entrepreneur and starting a company while on unemployment, so please Google that too. It is a big moral debate and it varies from state to state, the federal government has spoken positively and has some programs to encourage it, but of course like anything this political, it varies with the current administration. You will need to do a little research and make your own decision.
Then there is the dilemma of collecting unemployment. I can vouch for this one first hand; unemployment has some negative connotations in society, and quite a few in my head. I really struggled with it personally. I have heard every argument about how I have paid in a lot more than I will ever get out of it, about how it is a right that I deserve, but it was tough and I did not make light of that decision. You will have to decide that one for yourself too, but I do recommend it, as every dollar helps when you are starting out, and I mean every dollar.
That brings us to the next topic of pride swallowing, depending on your exact financial situation; there are food stamps or some type of equivalent. I never had to do that. I either had too much cash or too much pride (funny how those go together), so I didn’t do it. All circumstances are different for everybody and (similar to the argument above) you have already paid into it, but it comes down to a personal choice.
In the end.
The big thing about this discussion today is that a job is only one source or type of income; there are a lot of ways to skin that cat as long as you are willing and open minded. I will be the first to admit, it is HARD collecting from the government dole, and I will also say that in hind sight it didn’t make me any less of a man. Plus, it offers one huge incentive to succeed.