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How to Leave Corporate America (5 things you MUST do)

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Considering leaving corporate America? You’re in the right place. 

In this article, I’ll give you a step-by-step plan on how to leave your corporate job for good and live your dream of becoming an entrepreneur. 

And guess what? It doesn’t matter what type of business you want to start, this method works. 

Sounds good? Read on.

We’ll cover…

Why do people leave corporate America?

Thinking of leaving corporate America? You’re not alone. 

One in six Americans would rather be an entrepreneur.

In fact, so many people are leaving their corporate jobs post-pandemic, they’re calling it the “Great Resignation.”

And it makes sense. Maybe you’re…

  • Burnt out working a dead-end job
  • Stuck working crazy hours 
  • Longing for flexibility and freedom
  • Wanting to pursue your dream career

I’ve been there. My corporate career was successful on paper but I wasn’t happy. 

Not only was the work not fulfilling, it was taking me away from what matters most: My family. 

So much so, that when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, my dad had major heart surgery, and my sister had a snowball accident all within a year, I couldn’t be there for them.

And that hurt. The solution? To create my own business so I could be there for my family when they needed me.

Do you want to build a business so you can focus on what matters to you? Keep reading.

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

What are alternatives to corporate America?

You need a plan after leaving corporate America. So, what are your options? 

Well, you could find another career path that’s more fulfilling for you. 

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being a trained pastry chef, and now’s the time to go for it. 

Or, you could start your own business. Like millions of other Americans.

But not just any business. 

You need a profitable business idea that will replace your corporate income. And something you can start right away with the skills you already have.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Coaching: Coaching is one of the most rewarding businesses you can start. You don’t need to invest in any equipment or training. You can just coach people on your unique skills. Examples: Health coaching, relationship coaching, leadership coaching, and so on.
  • Consulting: Like coaching, you can consult businesses on the skills you’ve learned from your corporate career. This is a great fit for people like lawyers, administrators, and HR professionals.
  • Freelancing: Got a specialist skill that’s in demand? Freelancing gives you so much flexibility and costs nothing to start. Monetizable freelance skills include writing, graphic design, social media management, and so on.
  • Online courses: When you want to scale your business, creating a course is the best way to do it. You can create a course on anything from finding a dream job to travel planning. And once you’ve created the course, you can sell it indefinitely.

Not sure what’s right for you? We’ll talk more about business models in the next section.

Read on.

How do you get out of working in corporate America?

The steps to leaving your corporate job are:

  • Have a plan
  • Don’t quit your job yet
  • Adopt the right mindset
  • Treat your job as an opportunity
  • Figure out the best time to leave

Let’s break it down.

1. Have a plan 

Here’s the thing: You can’t leave your corporate job without a plan. 

Sure, we see it in the movies all the time. And stories about entrepreneurs who went from rags to riches feel sexy. 

But that’s not reality. 

You could end up right where you started if you don’t set yourself up for success before you leave.

So now’s the time to figure out your goals and clarify your roadmap. 

Here’s what I did:

As a risk-averse person, I knew my only strategy was to build a business alongside my corporate job. 

In fact, I built my business to over six figures before handing in my notice.

How do you do that? 

Start with some basic calculations:

  • When do you want to quit your job?
  • How much money do you need saved up?
  • How can you minimize your expenses to save more? 

The next step is to figure out what your business is going to be.

The ideal business idea allows you to work with a handful of clients and replace your income. 

The best business model for that? Coaching or consulting. (Though freelancing can work too.)

Why? Well, you have a valuable skill that you could teach someone else. 

It could come from a hobby, life experience, or your day job. You just have to find the people who want to pay you to learn that skill. 

Plus, you can charge high-ticket prices for coaching packages. I’ve taught students in over 30 industries who earn anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 per client.

Take my student Adunola Adeshola. She rose the ranks in her corporate career and now coaches mid-level professional women to do the same with her six-figure career coaching business employeeREDEFINED.

If you want to learn more about starting a coaching business to quit your job, check out this video:

Once you’ve chosen your business model, think about your niche. 

That is, who do you help and how do you help them?

For example, my student Spencer Snakard helps new entrepreneurs find success through mindset coaching.

Tip: Learn as much as you can about your target audience. 

See, without the pressure of having to find clients right away, you can spend more time learning exactly what your ideal clients need. 

This will help you build a high-ticket offer that will free you from corporate America in a relatively short amount of time. 

But let’s talk about that “short” amount of time.

Listen: There is no overnight success. 

I can tell you that I started a digital advertising agency and grew it to six figures in four months. That’s how I was able to quit my corporate job. 

But that would be super misleading. 

The truth is, I spent the previous three years working on different business ideas that didn’t work out. 

So remember that this journey takes time. Plan for that time.

Quitting your job too soon could make it way harder than it needs to be.

Let’s talk about it.

2. Don’t quit your job yet!

I get it. When I was building my business on the side of my 9-5 job, I wanted to hand in my notice every other week. 

Leap and the net will appear, right? If only!

I’m so glad my mom stopped me from handing in my notice too soon.

Because here’s the truth:

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

Quitting too soon is a recipe for stress, overwhelm, and desperation. 

And you can’t make good business decisions when you’re in fight or flight mode.

But you might be wondering, where am I going to find the time?

Great question. 

First, you need less time than you think. Even if you have 20 minutes a day, it adds up.

The key is to focus on the RIGHT things.

I call these sales activities – things that actually bring in sales.

So forget about the website, blogs, or email newsletters. There is a time and place for them. But not in the beginning. 

Instead, focus on the ways that you can get in front of potential clients NOW. 

For example, you could share your expertise on a popular podcast or publication in your niche. 

When I started, I created guest posts on Huffington Post and Insider to get seen by clients.


Now here’s how you find the time: Create a block in your daily schedule to work on your business. And ONLY do sales activities.

Screenshot of schedule
Here’s my own calendar I used when I was in my 9-5.

Because here’s the harsh truth: 

If you don’t have the motivation to work on your business now, you won’t find it later when you have more time. 

More on mindset in the next section.

3. Adopt the right mindset

Only 5% of success has to do with strategy. 95% has to do with mindset.” 

That’s from bestselling author Bob Proctor. And I agree. 

Shifting my mindset was crucial to helping me leave corporate America for good. 

Here are some key mindset shifts you need to make as an entrepreneur: 

  • You’re NOT behind: Everybody feels behind, no matter how “successful” you are. Sorry to break it to you but that feeling doesn’t go away. Here’s a powerful reframe: building a business is an infinite process. Focus on where YOU are in the process. 
  • Your skills are valuable, even if they come easily to you: There’s never been a better time to monetize what you know. And maybe like me, you grew up in a household that taught you money is hard to make. But it doesn’t have to be! That’s just a story and you can rewrite it.
  • You won’t feel salesy if you create a product you believe in: Creating a product that I wish I had when I first started in business made me a millionaire by 30. It felt natural to sell it because I believed in the product 1,000%. So create products and services you believe in and others will believe in you too.

Want more mindset shifts? Check out this video:

4. Treat your job as an opportunity 

Do you have a good job right now?

By “good job” I mean it pays you well and you worked hard to be there.  

You might not like it. But you don’t want to throw it all away without a safety net. 

At least I didn’t. I worked my butt off for my day job and made a great salary. 

So this may sound counterintuitive but here’s a key tip: 

Continue to do your day job well. 

Because your job is an opportunity. 

Think of it like this:

Your job gives you disposable income so you can work on your business without worry. You get to learn new skills and gain confidence in your field.

Plus, you can invest your salary into your business. 

For example, I used my paycheck to pay for a lawyer to help me set up, a designer for a new website, and so on.

These shifts in perspective are important for keeping you in your job long enough to build the resources you need to leave. 

If you quit your job too soon, you’ll probably end up burnt out and discouraged. 

Worse yet, you’ll probably have to go back to corporate America to survive.

So when is the right time to leave?

Read on.

5. Know when to leave your corporate job

So your business is going well. You’re getting clients and you’re making money. 

Is now the right time to leave corporate America forever? 

Let’s make this simple. 

Here’s a framework I call the 321 rule:

  • 3 – Have at least 3 months of consistent sales in your business
  • 2 – Make at least 2X your expenses from your business
  • 1 – Save 1 year of living expenses

If you have just one of these set up before you turn in your notice, your chances of succeeding will dramatically increase. 

I recommend having as many of these things set up as possible. Especially if you’re risk-averse like me. But don’t worry if you can’t get all three.

Now, when you’re ready to leave your job, don’t burn your bridges.

Remember, your job was the safety net that helped you build your business. 

So hand in your notice according to your contract. Be grateful for everything your current employer taught you. And keep doing your job well until the day you walk away. 

Soon enough, you’ll be able to celebrate! You’ve worked hard but now you can leave corporate America and live the life of your dreams.

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

Next steps

There you have it! The ultimate guide to leaving corporate America. 

Not only have I followed this path, but I’ve taught several students how to build a business and leave their corporate jobs too.

So if you want to dive deeper, my flagship course, Employee to Entrepreneur is for you. 

It’s the roadmap I wish I had when I started a business to quit my job. 

Click here to learn more about it.

Read more:

The Most Successful Online Business Ideas

How to Start an Online Business

How to Finally Go From Employee to Entrepreneur

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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