7 Steps to Transition From Corporate to Solopreneur

I was all ready, notes in hand and a mind full of ideas, and then the interview got cancelled.

It was supposed to be a deep dive into the journey from corporate life to starting out on my own – a topic I’m both passionate about and intimately familiar with.

I have done it, and half of my clients are doing it too.

Though the opportunity to share my thoughts in an interview disappeared, the preparation is not going to go to waste.

I realised the insights I’d gathered will be valuable to someone.

So, here we are.

  1. Go slow:

Don’t rush. Begin your independent journey while keeping your job, or switch to part-time if possible. The risk of desperation – for work, any work – is real and dangerous. Accepting less-than-ideal clients out of necessity can hurt more than just your bottom line. It can tarnish your reputation.

Admittedly, I feel a bit of a hypocrite saying this because my own journey kicked off with a bit of a sprint.

I opened my coaching practice in January 2020, aiming to balance it with a new part-time job. However, just two months in, the pandemic turned plans on their head, making it nearly impossible to find that part-time role.

I was thrust into a “go big or go home” scenario much sooner than I’d have liked. Looking back, taking it slower would’ve been my choice for a steadier start.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others:

Our business journeys, like our lives, are unique.

While it’s okay to look around for inspiration and benchmarks, comparison can steal your joy and sap your energy, impacting your mindset negatively.

3. Build social proof from the beginning:

Start gathering reviews and social proof as soon as you can. Depending on your field, this might be straightforward or a bit of a challenge.

This endeavour is certainly more nuanced in the realm of personal development, where the roles of coach, therapist, or consultant often come with an expectation of confidentiality.

In these professions, you’re not just offering a service; you’re becoming a confidant. It’s not uncommon for clients to view their relationship with you as something of a secret weapon in their personal or professional growth. They might prefer to keep the fact that they’re working with you under wraps, viewing it as part of their competitive edge or private journey.

This presents an interesting conundrum and perhaps my only critique of our industry: the expectation to showcase abundant social proof while simultaneously being a “best-kept secret.”

It’s a delicate balance to strike. While we understand and respect the privacy and discretion our clients seek, we also recognise the importance of social proof in building trust with potential clients.

In navigating this challenge, it’s essential to approach the collection of social proof with sensitivity and creativity.

One strategy could involve anonymised testimonials, where clients share their experiences without revealing their identities.

Another approach could be case studies that focus on the challenges addressed and the outcomes achieved, rather than on personal details. This way, you respect the confidentiality of your client relationships while still demonstrating the value and impact of your work to prospective clients.

Remember, the key is to start early. The sooner you begin to think creatively about how to gather and showcase social proof, the better positioned you’ll be to build credibility and trust in your field, even within an industry that values privacy.

4. Industry engagement:

Make your presence known. Join directories, secure relevant memberships, and get accredited. If your audience hangs out on platforms like Fiverr, be there. Remember, what works depends on your industry. Sometimes belonging to a body can help with credibility.

Expanding on this, being part of industry-specific governing bodies or professional organisations isn’t just about gaining credibility; it’s also a gateway to a wealth of opportunities for further professional development and peer-to-peer collaboration.

Such affiliations can connect you with a broader network of peers, opening up doors to collaborative projects, mentorship roles, and even speaking opportunities at industry events.

These engagements are invaluable for staying abreast of the latest trends, tools, and techniques in your field, allowing you to continuously refine and enhance your service offerings. Use these platforms not only to establish your authority but also to engage with peers, share knowledge, and forge meaningful professional relationships.

5. Personal branding is key:

Figure out where your clients are and be there, but don’t spread yourself too thin trying to be everywhere for everyone.

Focus on building a strong brand on the platform that matters most to your audience. Pick one and start there.

Taking action is critical – don’t get bogged down by overthinking or procrastinating over too many details. Deciding on some basic concepts like what your brand stands for, who your clients are, what kind of feel you want to convey about your business, and picking one or two brand colours can create consistency in who you are, your brand, and your promises to your clients.

For example, when it came to naming my coaching practice, I chose to use my name. It felt daunting at first, confronting the internal question, “Who do you think you are?” Yet, it was the most practical choice.

By using my name, I avoided the paralysis by analysis over a business name and sidestepped potential trademark issues. It’s my name; it’s unlikely to change and keeps the brand very simple.

This choice emphasised getting on with the most important aspects of building my business rather than getting lost in the minutiae of branding decisions.

It’s about simplicity, authenticity, and focusing on what truly matters – connecting with and serving your clients.

6. Networking never stops:

Online or in person, every interaction is an opportunity. Each person you meet could be a doorway to new business, a partnership, or a learning opportunity. This is where authenticity and integrity matter the most.

Networking isn’t just about expanding your contact list; it’s about building genuine connections. Approach each conversation with curiosity and openness, ready to learn and share. Remember, the value of your network isn’t measured by the number of contacts in your phone but by the quality of relationships you nurture.

7. Support systems:

Especially in the beginning, find someone who can guide you, offer advice, or simply be a sounding board. It’s about minimising trial and error, conserving energy, and avoiding burnout, which is all too easy when you’re balancing building a business with other responsibilities.

Whether it’s a mentor, a peer group, or even a coach of your own, having that support can make all the difference. They can provide perspective during challenging times, celebrate your wins, and offer insights that you might not have considered.

At the outset, don’t get caught up looking for overly specific support.

Say you’re going solo as a coach, consultant, or maybe providing some training; hold off on jumping into creating an expensive course or splurging on ads for it. It’s probably too much too soon.

At this stage, what you’re really looking for is more of a generalist support. Someone who helps you nail the basics: figuring out your brand, your values, who your clients are, and getting the hang of organic marketing.

This kind of support is invaluable when you’re just laying the groundwork. And hey, once you’re more established, maybe 6-12 months down the line, that’s when you can start thinking about investing in something more specific.

But for now, focus on building your brand and authority in a more natural, organic way.


And there we have it. I hope sharing these insights, woven from both personal experiences and practical advice, helps you as you navigate your own journey from corporate to creative freedom.

Remember, it’s your path to carve, and while the road might be bumpy, the rewards of following your passion and building something that’s truly your own are unparalleled.

And if you’re ever in doubt or just need someone to bounce ideas off, always feel free to get in touch.

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