Dr. Shirley Davis

Exit Strategies: Forget Plan B and Conquer Your Plan A

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A 3 minute read

I left my full-time position as a senior executive in a major organization three years ago to launch what has become a successful global speaking, training and consulting enterprise. But success didn’t come overnight, nor was it easy. Three years before I quit my job, I was only imagining what it would be like when I could finally be my own boss and live my dream full time. While I loved the work that I was doing for another company, I felt like my deepest passions and greatest potential was still untapped because it did not fit into my job description. This job was my Plan B, but I was longing to be living my Plan A. I had to plan to quit, plan to build my business, and plan to succeed.

I followed five steps to develop and implement my exit strategy, which enabled me to leave my day job and pursue my passion full time. It set me up for the success I enjoy today.

STEP 1 Reaffirm my “what.” 

I needed to ensure that my expertise and the services I offered would be marketable and sustainable. I needed to be sure the “what” was something that would drive me work harder every day, and it was something that would be meaningful and fulfilling.

STEP 2 Create a three-year business plan. 

This step required doing my homework on starting and operating a business, and begin acting and thinking like a business owner. I had been employed full time for over 30 years, and I had to reprogram my mind and reinvent myself. It’s one thing to be a great speaker; it’s another thing to manage day-to-day business operations.

STEP 3 Get moral support. 

The third step was to get my family on board, and expand my network and list of potential clients and resources. I got more involved with NSA by joining the local chapter, secured a business coach/mentor, and surrounded myself with other entrepreneurs who had successfully made the transition and could give me insight into the realities and pitfalls they experienced.

STEP 4 Get my finances in order. 

I paid off big bills, decreased spending, ensured that my credit score was high, and saved a year’s worth of salary to ensure that I could still pay my bills in the event that business got off to a slow start.

STEP 5 Build a business infrastructure. 

A solid infrastructure enabled me to be ready to do business on day one. I registered the business name; had my website built; completed my first book; had business cards, brochures, course catalog, and social media sites developed; and I hired an accountant and tax advisor. But nothing was published or went live until after I quit.

Too many speakers step out on faith to pursue their passion full time, but have no plan of action. As a result, their dreams are short lived. Just a few years ago, I was only imagining that one day I’d be a successful entrepreneur. Today, I am living on the other side of imagination and experiencing tremendous success because I worked on my exit strategy and planned to succeed.


Shirley Davis, PhD, Certified Speaking Professional, is an international speaker, business executive, and global workforce and talent management expert who provides strategies on how organizations can transform their cultures and how individuals can reinvent themselves for success. She is also the author of several books. Learn more at www.drshirleydavis.com.