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Making the Break

Making the Break

Making the Break

(OP)
Along with two colleagues, I am looking at leaving my current position and starting my own structural engineering firm.  Does anybody have some advice on how to make this step as peaceful as possible.  In other words how do I not burn all the bridges with my current employer.

Thanks,

Casey

RE: Making the Break

Sorry to sound like a cliche, but honesty is the best policy.  I would let the boss know what your plans are and be prepared to be asked to leave immediately.  So do not tell them like 6 months before but perhaps 2 to 4 weeks before, perhaps with a letter of resignation in hand, willing to stay a little longer to transition projects to other engineers, and be willing to answer questions on past projects.  Burning bridges is a bad idea - never know when you will need them again.  The engineering community is pretty small and everyone knows or talks to others.

Good luck.

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: Making the Break

Casey,

Sometimes, despite doing everything right, your old boss will still burn the bridge from his side. This is also a possibility. Some people don't take employees leaving well.

Having said that, if you are a senior (and I assume you are since you are leaving to start your own firm), I would give a minimum of a month's notice. This give your current boss a chance to start looking for a replacement, transition, tidy up loose ends, etc. In some cases, you may be asked to stay a bit longer to finish a job, or what have you.

Basically, treat your boss the same way you want your future employees to treat you when they leave to start their own shop.

Oh, congrats!

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."   
Albert Einstein
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RE: Making the Break

How much will you be a competitor to your old company?

Even if you are a full competitor, you dont need to be a hostile competitor. State your reasons for trying out on your own.

If you are willing to promote your old company, recommend the company to customers you cant serve yourself, or help your old company (at a charge of course) in your particular field if they are overloaded: state so.

Also promote the thought/policy that a friendly, 'working together if possible' - policy could bring more business to both companies.

Even if this approach is met with strong negative reactions, your new-started company could benifit in the long run by stating and keeping this policy, both towards your old employer and the market......

Things are never static.... By beeing fair, not negative against competitors, and open, both customers and possible new employees will be more easily attracted to your new company.

RE: Making the Break

I did this very same thing about three years ago (it was a trend that year, I think about a dozen people left that firm and started their own), I agree the best policy is honesty.  A letter of resignation is the appropriate thing to do.  You can get templates off the web, it doesn't need to be fancy.

Most importantly, verify you have not signed a "non-compete" clause with your current employer.

I agree with DonPhillips, while I do not know the environment you are in and no matter how "professional" you are in your resignation, your current employer may not reciprocate.  Be prepared to leave the day you resign.  I have heard stories from others who were escorted back to their desks and watched while they retrieved their personal items and then escorted from the building.

Also, be prepared for your current employer to not take your new business seriously.  I heard shortly after I left that we "weren't competition,"  ie we were too small for them to worry about.  If this happens to you, just remember, the best revenge is success, nothing else need be said or done.  Well, a good smile never hurt either!

Good luck!

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