More Accounting Tomorrow Posts

High potential burnout

August 19, 2010

Dear Rebecca,

I’m a 29-year-old “high potential” in my firm, and I just can’t take it anymore! I keep being asked to take on more and more work, and I’m burning out. Lately I’ve been daydreaming about leaving my firm to start my own practice. How do I go about this without making my partners mad?


Dear Straining,

As an entrepreneur myself, I can confide that there’s no way to prevent your partners from getting mad at you for leaving. When I left the last big company I worked for to start my little outfit, the CEO told me, “There’s no market for generational advice!” (Kiss my ass, Art.)

What’s most important is that you’re leaving and starting your own firm for the right reasons, and you’ve done your homework.

Some of the right reasons may be:
9.    You have a big vision for how a firm could better serve clients
10.    You know you’ll never be happy working for anyone else
11.    You’re willing to do whatever it takes to be successful on your own
12.    People (clients and peers) like working with you

Some of the wrong reasons are: - You’re mad at your boss. (Maybe you need a new boss instead?)
- You’re facing burnout. (Maybe you need a vacation, not a new start-up.)
-    You believe you’ll earn a lot more on your own. (This won’t happen for a couple of years, bro.)

The great news is, if you are leaving for the right reasons and you’re really good at what you do, you have every tool at your disposal to build a credible website, develop referrals, and position yourself in the market. The real gut check is whether you’re willing to DO IT ALL for the next several years. The closest parallel I can offer to starting your own business is building a house. When you build a house, you have to make THOUSANDS of decisions that you literally have to live with. Same with a new business…

Only you know if you’re leaving for the right reasons or not. I strongly recommend a four day weekend, a gigantic margarita, and a gut check (with friends, if that helps.)

And if you decide you are ready to make the move, I’ll be cheering for you!
Good luck, and let me know what happens!

Rebecca Ryan is a consultant who helps firms develop and keep their top talent.

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