Leaving Corporate America: Are You Ready?

corporate meeting

There’s an old cartoon about corporate America—forgive us if you’ve seen it, but it’s a one-panel illustration of a conference room full of unhappy people over a caption of the boss saying something like this: “We will continue to have these meetings until we find out why no work is getting done.”

It’s no joke if you’ve sat slumped in a conference room among many others wondering why you’re there, stressing that meetings are up, but your productivity is down. It might seem counterintuitive, but sitting through meetings upon meetings can be exhausting. You know the feeling.

Then surely the idea of leaving corporate America has crossed your mind. If by chance it’s moved to the tip of your tongue, here’s a word of caution: It’s best not to blurt it out during one of those meetings; it wouldn’t be a good career move to do so!


Before you break the news, think of what you might miss.

When corporate America becomes an afterthought, like middle school, public speaking, and child-rearing, your mind ignores the trying times so you only recall the good times.

You’ll miss those close business relationships, never mind the office politics, bureaucracy and micromanagement. You may even be fondly missed, too. Whatever happened to good old what’s his or her name?

Sure the commute was a grind, but if you left home early enough, rush-hour hadn’t yet congested to a crawl and you could back into a spot ideal for a quick afternoon getaway. It was your win for the day.

And those perks: twice-monthly paychecks deposited directly into your bank account—aka “job security”; fresh-brewed coffee in the break room; and, the trendy open-office environment.

Prepare to make your escape

Yes, you’ll miss some things. But your three first steps before exiting the premises should be to: 1) cast your commitment to leave in concrete; 2) fortify yourself financially and emotionally for the split; and, 3) put an exit plan in motion. Don’t make a break for it until you’re able to step into what’s next.

In preparation (bring your computer to the corporate meetings or just use your phone, no one will notice), make a list of what you’d like to do: retire, run for office, start a new business from notes off that old cocktail napkin, buy a franchise. Evaluate each one with pros and cons. Whittle it down to what’s best for you and your family.

We recommend: “Buy a franchise.” Then make a list of what you’re good at—managing people, sales, operations, etc., and identify franchise categories that complement your strengths: restaurants, childcare, automotive, home improvement, business services. Your options are many.

Then craft another list of the criteria in selecting a particular franchise—respected brand name, validated systems, exceptional training and support, network of successful franchisees, and more. (In a way, these list-making exercises will make those corporate meetings more productive.)

You’re nearing your breakout; now search the web for franchise opportunities. Compile a short list of good fits. Make inquiries—professional franchise salespeople should be readily available to answer your calls.

Your interactions with franchise salespeople and franchisees should help you answer these questions: Do I understand the operating model? Can I manage this business? Do I trust these people? Are the franchisees happy? Can I make money?

You’ll find that when you investigate the Image360 franchise opportunity, the fastest-growing brand within the Sign & Graphics Division of Alliance Franchise Brands, our development team and franchise owners will answer all your questions and confirm if the business is a good fit for you.

Finally, when purchasing a franchise, you have two options: One choice is that you join and open a new business; another option is to buy an up-and-running franchise business that’s for sale by a retiring owner.

Opening a new business is not like changing corporate jobs over the weekend. If you’re drawn to a brick-and-motor business, there’s site selection, lease negotiation, and construction. Then of course there’s a ramp-up period where you’re living off savings until you’re cash-flow positive.

The other option—buying a resale franchise—has many advantages: you begin with trained staff, existing customers, and immediate cash flow. Most franchise systems with a proven track record will have a short list of franchise owners who are ready to retire.

Run don’t walk

You will be finally ready to leave corporate America when you’ve made your decision and signed your franchise agreement. The i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. That’s when you are truly ready to give notice, bolt the building, and dash to your ideal parking space for a quick getaway.

Roll the windows down and breathe freedom. You’ve made a lifestyle decision and secured a new set of perks. You may have to brew your own coffee, but you’ll occupy the corner office with a flexible schedule, more family time, and better mental health. And, the effort you invest in the business will yield you the financial rewards. You’ll make a difference in the lives of the people you work with and the customers you serve. Also, when asked, you can proudly say that you may be just as busy as before, but you’re twice as productive!

For more about the Image360 franchise opportunity, a leader in visual communications services, download the “Franchise Kit” and contact Vice President of Franchise Development, Mike Cline, by phone at 800.765.7446 or via email at mikec@alliancefranchisebrands.com.