Look Before You Leap

Just before Thanksgiving, the brilliant David Meerman Scott wrote a post titled “Quit your job” that garnered quite a bit of attention (most of it positive). I was taken aback, because David is truly a great thought leader in the PR space, but on his point about quitting your job “Now. Today.” – I respectfully disagree.

There many periods when it’s OK to take the leap into PR consulting without knowing exactly where you’ll land. This is not one of them.

That’s not to say you can’t be outrageously successful as an independent PR consultant right now, or that those who are currently employed can’t go out on your own during this phase. You can! Nothing should ever dissuade you from following your bliss.

It’s just that different times call for different measures. I suggest that employed people find their next opportunity first (and that doesn't have to be traditional employment, it can be a consulting gig or two), before quitting. The key is to prepare in advance, and like the tortoise know that slow and steady wins the race.

Working at a job you hate can be truly exhausting (believe me, I’ve been there), but don’t forget that the stress of trying to find consulting work when there’s no money coming in can be lousy, too. Having been successfully independent since 1995, I've seen a lot of ups and downs, and all present unique opportunities. There is consulting work to be had right now, especially at those agencies and companies experiencing a hiring freeze. Find these openings before you quit, and you’ll sleep much better at night.

There’s another (perhaps controversial) point you may want to consider in this climate: if layoffs are occurring at your company, you could wait to see if your position is among those being eliminated. It actually can be a blessing in disguise to get laid off from your current job, since that may allow you to collect benefits, giving you a cushion/runway for launching your business. If you’re worried that  there’s a stigma to being laid off – don’t. During an economic downturn, people understand that layoffs have nothing to do with performance.

Given the focus of this blog, it would probably in my best interest to agree with David. In fact, I had prepared a post very similar to his – espousing the joys of being an independent and encouraging the employed to join our ranks ASAP – and had planned to publish it when this blog launched. But in the few months that Solo PR Pro was in production, the economic situation continued to change, and so my advice has adjusted. Everything I say on this blog is exactly what I would tell a friend (and that’s my promise to you).

What do you think? How would you advise a friend right now?