Donna Probes: Having a plan: The quitter's manifesto

Feb. 19—It has been said that an entrepreneur is the kind of person who leaps off a cliff and builds an airplane on the way down.

Let's face it. Most of us are non-leapers. The thought of leaving the safety and security of a full-time job is enough to bring on major anxiety.

That's the way it was for me when I quit the W-2 world and ventured into the great unknown of business ownership. I was a nervous wreck, but I knew that quitting would provide the best pathway forward to a happier, more balanced life.

During a recent visit to my daughter's world in the entrepreneurial mecca of California, I was introduced to a book that put what I was feeling so many years ago into words. It is "The Quitter's Manifesto." This insightful little book was written by two entrepreneurs who left their successful jobs to start new businesses.

They begin the manifesto by removing the stigma associated with quitting. While sticking with it is a good approach for many aspects of life, it does have the potential for leaving a person frozen in their professional tracks, afraid of answering the inner calling of the heart.

Among the first things you need to do, according to authors Tim Rhodes and Pat Hiban, is to take an inventory of how bad things really are for you in your current job. Rate the following on a scale of one to ten and then average the five scores: your compensation, the respect you receive, your fit with the team and organization, your prospect for growth and how you feel each morning about facing the day.

Every job has its positives and negatives, but Rhodes defines what he calls the soul-sucking factor as this: if your average is not at least six, the chances are very high that your current job is depleting your energy, rather than feeding it.

The authors map out a strategy for making the leap. First is to figure out the root cause of why you feel stuck and figure out what to do about it. Then, develop a safe approach to transitioning into more meaningful work by building a team to help you find opportunities and navigate difficulties. Then dial in your financial situation to make quitting less risky. And finally, fail-proof your mind for the ups and downs of change.

These are the same principles that we promote as SCORE mentors. One of my current mentees is standing on the edge and is about to make the leap. But before getting to this place, we helped guide him through a deep dive into the financial realities. Plus, we took a hard look at all the aspects of what this switch would entail.

We arrived at a plan that included keeping full-time employment for a while and hiring staff for the initial phases of the business acquisition. After months of diligent analysis, I am confident that this entrepreneur is bound for a happy landing.

Donna Probes, M.B.A., spent 10 years as a small business owner. She is retired from the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and is active as a SCORE mentor as well as a professional musical performer. For information on SCORE, visit