• Erin Halper

How to Tell Your Company You’re Leaving (and Make Them Your First Client)

Updated: Feb 3

So you’ve decided to launch your own consultancy. You’re prepared, you’re ready to leave your full-time job. The problem is: What do you say to your boss?

What to Tell Your Company

Maintain a simple conversation by making your words:

  • Short

  • Direct and to the point

  • All positive

  • and with zero emotion

Even if you had a terrible relationship with your boss, or you asked for part-time work and the company turned you down, or you requested to work from home one day a week and the company turned you down--it’s still likely that they would hire you as a consultant. I’ve even seen companies that have a policy of not hiring consultants, hire a former employee to consult.

You may actually be surprised at your boss’s reaction.

Regardless of your relationship with your boss or your company, your goal is to convert them into one of your first clients. Why? Because they are the easiest, lowest hanging fruit on the business development ladder. They know you, and they know your work. And most importantly, they trust you.

So, what do you say when you’ve decided to leave?

First and foremost, meet with your boss, not HR. Then, walk into their office and say:

“Hey, do you have a sec?”

Sure, whats up?

“I’ve got great news. I’ve decided to launch my own consultancy doing the same type of great work I do for [Company Name], but out on my own as an independent contractor. And I would love for you guys to be one of my first clients.”

And wait for the person to respond. Do. Not. Say. Another. Word...until your boss has time to respond.

You might actually be really surprised. The goal is that they are your first client, so go in with that mindset, and the perspective that it’s a win-win for you both. Then take it from there.

Prepare for The Big Conversation

Before this day comes, one key thing you can do to help convert your employer to your client: make yourself indispensable through the work you do and the unique knowledge you possess, not to mention your relationships and contacts. Once you know your boss would hate to lose you, plan your pitch:

  • Determine a fair hourly rate.

  • Identify major problems that your group or company faces.

  • Put together your pitch for solving those problems.

Then, resign, but as mentioned above, simultaneously propose that you continue working for the company as a consultant. Make it clear that you would be happy to continue doing the work you’ve been doing, but on a contractual basis.

Making it Go Down Smoothly

The boss will ideally move from viewing this as a typical resignation conversation, to an obstacle that you can work together to overcome, similar to if you told them you had a personal situation that required you to alter your hours.

Your pitch’s success comes down to how successfully you persuade your boss to switch up their mental model. They aren’t losing you as an employee, they are gaining you as a consultant!

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