June 5, 2012

Kick your corporate job and start your advisory practice!

Sadique Neelgund

On the occasion of world anti tobacco day on May 31, I came across multiple reasons to quit tobacco and slogans to the effect of “Kick the Butt today”. Whilst the reasons to eschew tobacco are well known to most, I noticed the increased use of visual aids to demonstrate the ill effects of smoking and chewing tobacco, which are extremely powerful. However, the moot question is “How many people are going to be successful in quitting tobacco, today and from here on?”

Whilst I do not smoke (one of the few vices that I do not have), it got me thinking about how many things I have been successful in achieving that I have set out to do, on a sustained basis. My numerous resolutions including my most famous “losing weight” have been largely unsuccessful. The one thing that I believe I have managed successfully is quitting my job and setting up my own practice. Whilst smoking and being in a job are in no way as harmful as each other, the idea is to share what allows one to make a change that is sustainable. Since it is now 10 calendar years since I quit my job as a banker, it got me thinking on what made it sustain.

Here are my top 5 reasons why I believe I successfully made the shift from a salaried employee to a financial planning practitioner.

Setting a deadline

Whilst I do believe it is critical to have a well thought out written business plan to set up your own practice, it is also critical to set a deadline. For me it was before I turned 30. I believed that if I did not go independent before I turned 30, I never would. For me, the logic was quite simple – if you are good, by the time you turn 30, there will be enough people who will recognize you in your job and the perks will start to flow in – company houses, cars, fat salaries, bonuses and what not. As you get used to these, it gets harder and harder to quit your job. Excuses like “some day”, “one day” and “next year” are not deadlines. What’s your deadline – put a date to it, and stick to it.

Burning all bridges

One of the commonly held beliefs is to have a plan B which involves going back to your job if you don’t succeed in your practice. Personally, I think this does more harm than good. Whilst you should certainly quit your job with extremely cordial relations, a significant component of what separates successful practitioners from unsuccessful ones in my opinion is pure perseverance. I did not have a Plan B when I set up my practice, and I think I greatly benefited from the “There is No Alternative (TINA)” syndrome. Burn yours so there is no looking back.

Downsizing my lifestyle before I was forced to

Entrepreneurs need to live frugally for the first few years of their business. I remember a few months before my deadline to quit, a number of my colleagues were planning an overseas holiday that they wanted me to be a part of. Whilst it was extremely difficult to say no, rather than taking it as a “one last time to enjoy holiday”, it was critical to say NO so that these same monies gave me an additional four months of staying power if my practice took longer to set up than I had originally envisaged. Since you will have to downsize your lifestyle anyways, better today than tomorrow. Start downsizing today.

Getting my hands dirty

Jobs allow you to focus on a set of defined tasks and activities. Entrepreneurship, unfortunately, is just the opposite. You are the Swiss knife in your firm – playing multiple roles from HR, Sales, Marketing, Operations, Administration, IT administrator to varying extents. Whilst it is difficult to be good at everything, accepting that you will have to wear many different hats till you reach a certain scale can be very liberating as you will start enjoying what you do.

Doing what I love

10 years after quitting my job, I wake up each morning raring to go. Ask yourself if you feel the same. Remember, you have limited time in this world. Don’t waste it doing things that you don’t like just because it is more acceptable to others. Whilst you will need to make them understand what you are doing and why you are doing it, don’t let their opinions take over your inner voice.

Here is what Steve Jobs had to say about work –

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

I will come back soon with some more thoughts on kicking the job. Till then, enjoy some spectacular kicks at Euro 2012.

Coming up next in series –

  1. Myths of setting up a practice
  2. The first few years – do’s and don’ts


Authored by,

Vishal Dhawan

Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors Pvt Ltd

46 Thoughts to “Kick your corporate job and start your advisory practice!”

  1. ayush bhargava says:

    Finally, I am reading something which is giving me motivation to start up. Till now 90% of the people i came across said you will not survive in this market.
    Waiting for your next articles.


    • Ayush, good to know that you found it motivating. As I mentioned in the post, whilst you need to make people who matter understand what you are doing and why you are doing it, don’t let their opinions take over your inner voice. All the best.

      Just another perspective – 2003 when i started off had a very negative environment as well. In my opinion, it is always more difficult to set up in good times than in bad times, so if you have not done so already, this is a great time.

    • Rohit Bornarkar says:

      Superb Article by Vishal!…Read the next article as well; thanks for the to the point analysis of one of the most important and complex decisions in life..
      You are on the right track Ayush!..Just follow your heart with great commitment!..

  2. Well said Vishal! I went through the exact set of fear, self-doubt, and delusion while starting on my own (though not as an adviser, but a finance blogger).

    As for the thought about not having a Plan B, I agree because not having a Plan B is what keeps you focused on Plan A.

  3. Vishal – I completely agree with all the points put across by you. And have experienced when Priti & I quit our respective jobs to start Network FP and and still experiencing them.

    1. I wanted to start a firm before 30. But my reasoning was before starting a family and taking a home.
    2. We did have Plan B – going back to job in case things don’t work out. Or at least one of us go back to job.
    3. We choose to keep costs low both on household expenses and business expenses. This reduces pressure tremendously.
    4. When we are on own – we have to be ready to do everything. Actually this also helps as we grow up and hire staff and delegate responsibilities.
    5. Financial Planning is what I choose right from my MBA days… and being on my own was my dream…now doing what we love!

    Thanks Vishal… I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and related to it completely. And wish you all the best to grow your firm many folds!

    • Sadique, I can closely relate to yours and Pritis scenario as both Shalini and me quit our jobs simultaneously as well. Only difference is- we still had no plan B.Guess we never thought that its possible that a practice will not work for us. Maybe we should have but we believe in the maxim “stay hungry, stay foolish”.

  4. Partha Iyengar says:

    Vishal..Congratulations! Great Read and an Inspiring one! Cheers!

  5. Vishal..Congratulations! Great Read and an Inspiring one! Cheers!

  6. abhinav0115 says:

    “10 years after quitting my job, I wake up each morning raring to go.”…..

    need not say more…excellent article…will look forward to more!

  7. Vishal I agree with you. But over night it’s very difficult to run own show. First, one needs to keep aside family expenses and business expenses for 3/4 years… of course it depends on person to person.

    • Uttam, I completely agree with you that this cannot happen overnight. You need to have a business plan in place and add a substantial buffer so that if things dont go to plan, you can still sustain both your business and your personal lives at a basic level. However, sometimes in trying to overplan, you also tend to miss the bus and run the risk of waking up one morning and asking yourself. Why didn’t I try when I had the chance?

      • Vishal, I want to share my exiting experience with you. While I started financial planning as my career, I took exemption from my LIC agency career so that I can work independently and impartially, I am facing lot of hardship but never mind to go ahead. I have to adjust with the situation. It’s not only me, but few of my colleagues have shifted to this profession like me. But better to plan first and then leave.

  8. Hey Vishal,

    This is a really good and inspiring article for the budding Financial Planners. I completely agree with the TINA syndrome. Until you have fire behind your A** (modern version of Fire in the Belly), you will go nowhere. And I completely agree with Steve Jobs quote. His story is good enough to motivate us through any turbulent phase (our circumstances can’t be more rocking than what he faced.).


    Gajendra, CFA

    • Gajendra, Thanks for the encouraging words. I do however believe that fire behind your A** is still a corporate way of life….. I prefer the old fashioned fire in the belly 🙂

  9. sureshcfp says:

    TINA and getting my hand dirty are good stuff to get motivate for starting practice. Its really would work if we intend to do the same.

  10. Sublime…makes for a great read. Looking forward to more.

    • Thanks for the encoraging words Neeti. Since you have followed the same route from the corporate world to becoming a practitioner, Im sure you have your own experiences on the most difficult part of the process, which in my opinion, is quitting the job.

  11. RASIK HULSOGI says:

    First of all, Congratulations! A very courageous step. Appreciate your initiative. We need mor people like you. Confident. Really Good and Inspiring read. My best wishes to You. Keep it up.
    Looking forward to read your future articles on the subject. Saadique is another good example to emulate. Good work, Guys! You make the lives of a few people more peaceful and happier. That`s the unseen wealth that you earn.

    • Thanks Rasik for the kind words . Sadique and Priti are great examples of how you can quit your job and play a far bigger role than just building an individual practice. I think they do a great job in sharing best practices and creating a community that can share its successes and challenges

      • Unmesh Deshmukh says:

        This has come at right time for me. I have quit my 15 years job in Insurance on last day of May. Getting into full time FP practise. Great article to boost my morale.
        I am 38. It was now or never for me. Thank god, I could make a decision.
        I completely agree about your thoughts on plan B. Thanks Vishal.

        • Wish you all success Unmesh. I’m thrilled that you made this decision and you will singificantly aid the spread of the financial planning movement across the country

      • Thanks Rasik and Vishal for the kind words. We are just making a living out of what we love doing. Apart from helping the profession grow Network FP is giving us an opportunity to do something innovative which kind of satisfies your entrepreneurial spirit!

  12. Sony Joseph says:

    10 years experience in advisory practice shows your patience and passion.A creative person cannot continue as an employee.Because, each advisor dream about his unique style of practice.Another thing, A financial planner build his business with comprehensive solution.Normally, corporate employees cannot do it.Here, things are in a long term view point.
    You deserve the success.I have started my own practice and blog financialfreedomlive.com 1 year back only.I m also @30.So, it is inspiring to me also.

  13. Its really an inspiration…Thanks a lot Vishal!

  14. nandishdesai says:

    Inspiring read. The entrepreneur in you will find its way and help you grow….The next breed of planners needs a lot of motivation and inspiration through such articles

    • Thanks Nandish for sharing your thoughts. At each stage of entrepreneurship the challenges will be different and a solution mindset works wonders in my opinion, with a large pinch of hard work and a positive frame of mind.

  15. Soubhagya says:

    Superb and inspiring article, but feel the subject is bit derogatory.

    • Soubhagya… had initially thought of “Quit” instead of “Kick” but choose later. It was to relate to the frustration level that many of those who are employed are going through and wanted to start on their own.

    • Soubhagya, glad that you liked the article. The choice of the heading was also linked to the “kick the butt” campaigns on anti tobacco day and the Euro football starting later this week. Not meant to be derogatory to the corporate world at all which I was very much a part of till a few years ago.

      • Soubhagya says:

        Agree.. It was just my thought Vishal, anyways thanks for sharing such thought provoking article.. And my special thanks for one of your point that means a lot for me “Burning all bridges”, its quite pertinent.. “Jab aage nikal pade ho to piche kyun dekhna” 🙂

  16. pezanb says:

    Real Good read..keep coming up with more such.. We have recently started and I can say we love it..Its a dream and there is no force stronger than hungry people chasing their dreams 😀

    • Pezan, All the best and hope your hunger is satisifed. This plate of financial planning is really large and its all about the collective appetite we can develop to spread this profession. We all just need to find the right recipe for ourselves.

  17. Dear Vishal,

    First of all.. thank you for a wonderful article.. it sure is a great motivator for all of us.. and sure is a thumb rule for many of us..

    i have become an instant fan of your narrative style.. simple.. crisp and easy to read.. looking forward for more of your articles.

  18. Dear Vishal, Agree with all that you say except the age bit. You left it all before 30, I left it after 45 (47 to be precise) when all the perks and privileges, that too of a Govt job, one has already enjoyed for quite some time and also got used to them. But when the hunger to do something else, something of your own, strikes, all these things really become tiny. I am still in the formulating stage – getting my hands dirty, being the swiss knife of my company (Hum Fauji Initiatives), burnt all the bridges nice & proper, etc. But the satisfaction too is no less….and of course, no downsizing in lifestyle was required, miraculously!

  19. Dear Sanjeev,
    Great to know that you took this step at 47. Thats very inspiring. I completely agree with you that the hunger for success overrides all else. Ultimately, its all about the drive to succeed. All the best. Whats
    the hum fauji initiative – would be good to know about that.

  20. Prerak Desai says:

    This is INSTANT INSPIRATION.. We need such articles to stay motivated..
    Great One…Thanks for it!

  21. Dear Mr Vishal,

    I read this article only after reading your "Myths of setting up your practice". I was able to relate to your myth no 1 very much. I'm in practice (after quitting my career at ICICI) for 5 years now. Looking back, I wonder how true it is " clients won't flock you, no matter how good your advice is". I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and was able to relate to each of those myths you attempted bursting.

    Should be an useful info for those setting up practice afresh.


    Optima Financial Solutions Pvt Ltd.

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