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Becoming self-employed

How to quit your job

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    So, the time’s finally come – you’re ready to quit your job. Whether you’re going freelance, becoming a limited company, a sole trader, or simply moving to pastures new, it’s important to not let your emotions get the better of you when it’s time to tell your boss.

    You’re probably feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement – of course, it’s hard to say goodbye to so many friendly faces, but it’s also pretty satisfying to know you’ll never have to deal with certain elements again.

    Some people can’t wait for the day they get to tell their boss they’re on the move, but whether you’re champing at the bit or departing with a heavy heart, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Here’s everything you need to know about how to quit your job.

    Not quite ready?

    Before we get going, if you’re thinking about setting up on your own business, but aren’t quite ready to hand in your notice and clear out your desk, don’t forget to check out our “Why there’s never a perfect time to start your business” article, and our “Freelancing on the side” business guide. It’s choc-full of all the helpful hints and tax implications of working on a side-hustle while still in employment.

    Freelancing on the side

    Our video 'Should I go self-employed' goes into detail about whether or not turning your passion into a career is a good idea.

    Don’t quit your job before you’ve done the groundwork

    No matter the reason for your departure, being absolutely sure everything is in place before you hand your notice in is vital.

    If you’ve decided to work for yourself or start a business, make sure you’ve done all the groundwork, such as sorting your business plan, working out your finances, and setting your day rate.

    If you’re leaving to take on a role at another company, be sure that you’ve got written confirmation of the job offer and that it details your salary. Things can change quickly, and if all you’ve got to rely on is a verbal agreement, you could suddenly find yourself with no job at all.

    Handing in your notice is often the point of no return. You may be persuaded to reconsider with the help of a nice, juicy pay rise, but depending on the mindset of your employer, you may still be marked as someone who isn’t completely committed to their job.

    Write a Business Plan

    Don’t tell colleagues before your boss

    When you’ve made your mind up, you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops, but it’s best to wait until you’ve made it official with your employer before telling colleagues.

    If your decision is put on hold due to an offer of more money, a promotion, or maybe even both, your boss won’t be best pleased if they find out other employees knew of your plans. They’ll be even less impressed when your colleagues all try the same tactic.

    How to write a resignation letter

    Keep your resignation letter short and to the point. Address it to your line manager and make sure it includes the date you’re handing your notice in, along with your last day with the company, which will be dictated by the notice period stipulated in your contract of employment, which usually range from anywhere between one week and one month.

    It might be that your employer offers to let you leave sooner (or persuade you to stay a little longer), but it’s important to have a written record of when you handed your notice in. It’s best to arrange a meeting with your boss, but have answers up your sleeves for the most common questions.

    They’ll probably want to find out exactly why you want to leave, what it would take to make you stay, and where you’re going. How much you tell them is completely up to you, but it pays to be prepared.

    Ride out the last few weeks peacefully

    If your time with your current employer has been less than perfect, you may be tempted to unleash hell on those who’ve made your life a misery.

    Plenty of people have decided to burn their bridges on the way out, like Joey DeFrancesco in the infamous “Joey Quits” video, but these kinds of exits are best avoided. Go on the offensive and it’ll probably just make your last few weeks at the company particularly unbearable.

    You never know when you may need to call in a favour with your soon-to-be previous employers and coworkers, either, and you certainly don’t want word getting back to your new boss that you didn’t conduct yourself with dignity. Whatever ill-will may be lingering, toe the line and make sure you leave with your head held high.

    Remember you’re still under contract

    Once you’ve handed your notice in, you’ll probably want to put all your efforts into getting ready for your next adventure. You probably won’t be quite as willing to work overtime or take on more work as you head toward the exit, but it’s important to remember that you’re still under contract with your current employer. The last thing you’d want is to be dragged into a disciplinary meeting and end up being fired part way through your notice period.

    Talk to colleagues about opportunities

    If you’re leaving to start up your own business, whether in the same industry or something completely new, make the most of your existing relationships.

    You may already know the story of Chris Holmes, the border control officer at Stansted Airport who handed in his letter of resignation on a cake. His bakery business gained a lot of exposure when it went viral, but even if it hadn’t, he’d let his colleagues know where he was headed next and sought their support.

    Now, you may not be able to bake your new business details on a cake like he did, but it’s important to talk to your boss and other departments, enquire about future projects and how you might be able to help. But also be aware of your contractual obligations; it might be that you’re prevented from working for your new company for a set period of time, although this type of clause can often be discussed and waived if you’re on good terms.

    Looking to the future

    So now you know how to quit your job and, perhaps more importantly, how to go about it the right way, it’s time to look to the future. If you have or are about to set up your own business, there are still a few things you’ll need to take into account.

    We’ve already mentioned resources like our fantastic “Freelancing on the side” and “How to write a business plan” guides, but don’t forget to check out our “Sole trader, limited company, or umbrella company” article if you’re looking for some guidance on the best business structure for your new venture.

    Our articles also cover topics such as how much to charge your clients, everything you need to consider before you go self-employed, and our top tips on how to get the most out of being self-employed.

    Don’t forget that if you’re looking to set-up a limited company, we can help you with that, too! Head on over to our formations page and you could have your new business up and running before you know it!

    Company Formations