There is a lot to remember to do before you leave long-term employment to start your own business; a LOT!

And, of course, that’s just before you walk out that door, small box of desk decorations in hand, memories of fond farewells and handshakes over donuts and coffee, a bittersweet skip to your step. You’ve got to do it all, make sure the work is buttoned up, make sure whoever is next to sit in your chair can hit the ground running, make sure your boss knows how everything works, make sure you’ve returned all computing equipment

[after wiping all personal files from the drive – come on, admit it!]

There’s just tons of making sure to be done.

So, it’s highly likely you’ll forget the ONE thing you MUST do before heading out the door:

Get everyone’s personal contact details, including phone, mobile and email numbers.

Why must you do this? There are 3 reasons, only one of which may be obvious:

  1. You don’t realize that you can’t contact people until you can’t contact them – and Outlook used to fill in those details for you, so you rarely did the neural programming necessary to remember email addresses, let alone phone numbers. Of course, there’ll be a handful of people you know how to get to – but it’ll be just that: a handful.
  2. You’ll make the mistake of thinking you can contact anyone you’re connected with on LinkedIn, and everybody’s there, so that’ll be just fine… Nope. While technically this is true, the reality is that a minority of your network, even those you know well, actively use or follow up on LinkedIn. The site is largely a set-it-and-forget-it for most people. The only folk using it regularly/consistently/assertively are seeking to sell themselves or their product/service; which brings us to the obvious one…
  3. At some point in the early stages of your business, you will need to “work your network” – either selling directly, or gaining references for potential projects. All those people who were so engaged with you while you were a co-worker have moved on to become embroiled in the next set of corporate shenanigans and, while they may hold fond memories of your time together, they really don’t care about what you’re doing now…

… Unless you remind them to… Which means calling them…

[eMail being the least effective means to rekindle connection]

which means you need their personal number, because if you remember their number at all, it’s likely that you remember internal extension 8047, or even just speed dial 3.

Getting the contact info doesn’t have to be hard – it’s pretty likely that you’ll be sending out some form of farewell message, so take 15 minutes to put together a simple stay-in-touch form at Survey Monkey, MailChimp, TypeForm, or any other online survey tool. You can even be really, really transparent:

I’d love to stay in touch after I leave, but I don’t have your personal contact information, please drop it here.

There, that wasn’t so painful was it?

And that, quite simply, is the ONE thing you MUST do before leaving your employment to start your own business.

Not having a network to work is potential suicide for your new company, want to know the 5 reasons your new business will fail in 2017?

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Vincent Tuckwood is a coach, consultant, and founder of View Beyond LLC. He coaches people, teams and organizations to break free of self-imposed limitations. In his individual coaching practice, he helps people looking to start their own business, with particular focus on those leaving long-term corporate employment to do so.