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TLDR How do I tell my boss of ~9 months that I want to leave to run my own business?

I will start with a bit of (relevant) background to this question to give some context. I was a self employed web developer during university and was quite successful with my work.

When I finished university I got a job straight away via a recommendation from a client, it was remote and I did well in it for 18 months, I did miss self employment though. I then managed to land a job in my local area with much better pay but in an office.

At the interview, it seemed that I would be working with a couple of others but when I started work they were no longer there and it has just been my boss and I in the office ever since.

The first month or two at the new job were good but things have since gotten very stale. Being the sole developer at this place, I have to balance bug fixes on old company projects with creating new functionality for our new clients and I am not enjoying my time here at all. My boss (the director) is excellent, he is friendly and flexible and the pay is good, but I don't feel happy.

I feel now more than I ever have that I want to go back to being self employed, but full time. I have a number of contacts (from my past and unrelated to my current job) that want to use my services, some on a project basis, others on a monthly retainer basis. These are reliable enough to give me the confidence to go it alone, and I have been saving for a few months to give me a large buffer in case things go awry. The chance of getting work from my boss is relatively likely but I am obviously not going to count on that. My business is not in the same industry as his, so no threat of competition for him.

My main question is, how do I tell my boss that this is what I want to do? Being the only two people in the business at present make it feel harder for me to do. I want him to know it's not a personal thing but just something I feel I need to do but not sure how to do that succinctly. I'm looking to go in December, so would be giving my 30 day notice in November which is not far away now!

marked as duplicate by Dukeling, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, HorusKol, JakeGould Oct 8 '17 at 0:00

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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My main question is, how do I tell my boss that this is what I want to do? Being the only two people in the business at present make it feel harder for me to do. I want him to know it's not a personal thing but just something I feel I need to do but not sure how to do that succinctly. I'm looking to go in December, so would be giving my 30 day notice in November which is not far away now!

You appear to be filling a role no-one else can in your current company. So while 30 days may be a perfectly legal period of notice to give, you may be putting your employer in a very difficult position by leaving him only 30 days to find a good candidate to fill your job.

You are also leaving them no time to allow for you to hand-over your work to your replacement. You will presumably not be there to train in the new person.

So if you want to leave on good terms (a very sensible idea) you may need to be more flexible with them in the transition period.

I'd suggest considering offering to be available for part time work or to consult (paid perhaps at your current hourly rate) with your replacement. You should suggest helping in the interview/recruitment roles to find your replacement.

All of this may delay your move to full time self-employment, but it would be a great help in not creating problems for your employer and retaining (and perhaps even improving) the relationship you have with them.

You should consider any extra time it takes to allow an easy transition to a new employee for your current employers as an investment in a strong business relationship.

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    Offering to remain available part time could also help with cashflow at the beginning of your independence... – Kempeth Oct 9 '17 at 14:53
  • Do you think it is the employer's or the employee's responsibility to ensure business continuity? – BryanH Oct 9 '17 at 16:30
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    @BryanH - absolutely the employer's, but OP is asking how to leave in a manner that is also generous and good-willed, but not so much as to allow them to be taken advantage of or stay in an unhappy situation. If it was about the minimum required, OP would not have bothered asking. – PoloHoleSet Oct 9 '17 at 16:39
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Just resign as normal. Don't mention it before hand. Then when asked why you're resigning give your reasons politely. But don't mention you're thinking you may get work from him. Leave that to his imagination.

  • Exactly. A soon-to-be-former employee doesn't owe ANY explanation as to where they are going. In fact, it is in their best interest to keep that information private, in case the current employer is feeling vindictive and wants to sabotage the employee. – BryanH Oct 9 '17 at 16:31
  • @BryanH - OP mentioned that current employer might even be a potential client. Also, if OP has the ability to get started, and the main concern is there's no one else to take over the job, how would the current employer "sabotage" that? "Fire" them earlier, when they're only staying as long as they are to be nice? Not exactly hurting OP. Your comment doesn't take anything OP wrote about the situation into account, and, as mentioned under the other answer, the question isn't really focusing on what they owe the employer. – PoloHoleSet Oct 9 '17 at 16:42
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I think that giving him the 30 days you mentioned is a really good start. Heck, tell him Monday. The more time he has to react, the easier it'll be for him.

Another thing you should bring up is that you can help screen candidates to replace you, and help get them onboarded with the codebase and processes you've set up. Hmm ... do you have good documentation for your setup, your code, your process? The new guy will thank you if you do!

Emphasize that you want to help make the transition to a "you-less" environment as smooth as possible. You should ideally come in with a checklist of all the things you do, which will need to be covered when you're gone, either by boss or by the new fish.

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How you handle this depends very much on your relationship with your boss, which will change once you give your notice in. It's not unheard that employers just want you gone (with pay) as soon as you give your notice.

In the first instance, you need to do everything by the book. Give your resignation in writing, detailing exactly when your last working day will be. Thank him for the opportunities and experience you have received while working there (if that is something you want to say). Emphasise that you want to help make any transition as easy and straightforward as possible (again, if that is something you want to say). Do everything you can to be a good employee, it's a small world after all, and you're a good guy, right...?

After that, let your boss initiate/lead any further discussions. If he asks what you're going to be doing, and you're comfortable discussing it, say that you're going back to working freelance. I think the worst thing you can do is to bring it up yourself with the aim to get freelance work from him, it will be obvious what you are trying to do.

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