Your Next Exit – Create a Back Up Plan


There has been quite a bit of recent press on setting exit strategies to remove yourself from a negative job situation. The reality, in today’s environment of mass cross industry disruption and frequent layoffs, is that even people in happy comfortable positions must be prepared to move. Having a consciously considered exit strategy will keep you moving forward during an unexpected downturn.

The first key ingredients for an effective strategy are to determine where you are and where you want to and are able to go. Sit with a financial advisor and get a clear view of your financial situation. What it would look like if your employment ended today? That financial snap shot gives you a foundation to set your vision. Do you have to maintain a specific income to meet obligations? Do you have enough in reserves to consider an entrepreneurial path or to possibly retire?

If continued employment is a desire or financial necessity, these are some steps you should take to set your exit strategy in motion:

  • Ensure your resume, website and/or professional portfolio is up to date. Work with a resume writing expert to ensure your documents meet today’s accepted standards.
  • Update your skill sets and earn any possible professional certifications, credentials or tech knowledge that lets new employers know you are up to date with current practices.
  • Start networking in your field, in person and via social media sites such as LinkedIn and Meet Up.
  • Contact recruiters in your field to ensure they know you and can keep you in mind for opportunities.

If your financial review and vision are focused on entrepreneurial pursuits these actions will move your life in that direction:

  • Plan to have 18 months of living expenses banked before you start any new venture. Start saving now if you do not have an adequate cushion.
  • Write your business plan. There are 300+ SCORE Chapters around the country that offer free business mentoring by seasoned professionals and successful entrepreneurs. They can assist you in this confidential process.
  • Form your LLC and get your business licenses and tax ID numbers so that the business shell is ready to fill when you leave your role. If possible, start your business while you are still working.
  • Many successful small business owners are currently looking to sell. If starting from scratch is not an option, buying an existing business may be the answer. Explore options through brokers and other advisors.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to use retirement as an exit strategy, there are still things you should consider to ensure your retirement is a time of satisfaction and life balance:

  • Give thought to what makes you happy. How will you spend your time and money?
  • Many people dream of traveling when they retire. Yet, the reality of the high cash cost of fantasy vacations makes this dream impractical. Set a realistic travel bucket list with an eye towards your long term financial plan.
  • Many retirees miss the sense of purpose working provides, even the most miserable job. Decide what will give your life meaning and sense of purpose. Are you a people person who needs daily interaction? Maybe volunteer or part time work should be part of your plan.

As with any strategy, it is important to continue to review it. Things change and options can evolve over time. Keep your exit strategy a living document. And when you reach your new destination, start your exit strategy planning process again, because the one and only constant in our lives is change.

By: Dr. Jacki Wisler


Dr. Jacki Wisler relocated to Charlotte NC from metropolitan New York in 2011 after a two year unsuccessful job search in the luxury goods industry. She transferred her skills from luxury goods into a Human Resource leadership role in the Creative Applied Arts education field. While working, she earned a doctorate in Organizational Leadership in 2015 and had her research work on Luxury Goods Leaders and Ethics published in the Journal of Business Ethics in February 2016. She is 51 years young and still growing.




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