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I Left My Job, Should I Hang Out My Own Shingle?

Dear Stephen, 

I’m a Senior Operations Executive in my late fifties. Most recently, I was running a dealership, but previously, I was a senior leader at a major manufacturer. I’ve had a great career, but recently I lost my job. It was a mutual dissolution, so I’m all right for now. 

My career options are limited because I’ve got a very generous severance which has come along with a very strict non-compete. That’s not a bad thing because I’m in a good place financially, and the job I had came to an end.

My question is, given my strong non-compete, what should I do next? I’m too young to retire, and I feel that I’ve gained a lot of experience over the years at both a manufacturer and a dealer. I’ve hired, fired, and led strategic sales efforts. As the old cliché goes – I know just enough to be dangerous. If it matters, I’m lacking an MBA. 

I know how to finesse myself, in other words. My options are going into another industry - carpeting, residential, healthcare… as long as I’m not competing with another contract furniture company. Or I could be like you! Hang out my own shingle, as they say. I’ve already seen that dealers are willing to pay anything for what they perceive to be a professional perspective on how to make their businesses better. I’ve hired a lot of salespeople and know a lot of people in the industry, so I could dabble in what you’re doing. It doesn’t seem that hard.

Or I could advise owners of dealerships on how to better manage their sales staff and cozy up to the manufacturers they represent. Strategic planning is lacking at all major dealers, and I can help dealers and manufacturers do just that. How hard could it be? Hey! I can even tell one company how to buy another company. There’s nothing to it – just ask the people at #HermanMiller. What do you think? Should I hang out my own shingle?


Excited For a New Adventure

Dear Adventurer, 

First of all, congratulations on having two dream jobs and receiving a great severance! It’s incredibly difficult for someone that’s been in an active leadership role for so long to suddenly be out of work, unemployed, doing nothing. People tell me they feel lost. Trust me though, you’re not. I think your ambition, energy and enthusiasm is just what this industry needs, and I encourage you to hang out your own shingle!

Go for it! Open your own business. Even if you’re just killing time until the next best job comes around once your non-compete is expired.

Or you may land that dream client who keeps you busy for years in your new gig, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t open your own business sooner.

Here’s the most important advice I can give you: pick only one field to consult in and stick with it. Don’t offer every service plus the kitchen sink. You’re naming several different advisory services that the industry may need but the one thing that sticks out to me that you offer experience in is strategic planning.

You are right about one thing, dealers will pay anything for advice, especially from someone who has worked at a major manufacturer and a dealer. I suggest that you teach companies to implement plans you create with, and for, them, to increase revenue. Like I said, hone in on just one area, what you’re passionate about, and what you really know: not what you think you know. At The Viscusi Group, we are all executive recruiters, it is what we know, and we are experts in executive search. It’s the only service we offer.

Find that one thing for yourself, and I’m sure you’ll do great in whatever you decide. Wishing you well.