Why I Quit Corporate

One morning 12 years ago, I woke up in a cozy little village in the Swiss Alps. My wife and I were in the middle of a dream vacation, and we had a fun day planned.

Before we set out for breakfast and a hike, I innocently cracked open my laptop. I planned on scanning my emails and then leaving work behind for the day. That’s not what happened.

There was a crisis back at the office. My team needed my help — right away. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that I spent the rest of the day holed up in my hotel room, working through a marketing campaign that had gone south.

That day, I realized that something had to change.

Chasing “Success”

I had spent years chasing success. I worked multiple jobs all through college, then landed an internship for a professional sports team that checked all the right boxes. I worked for free to gain amazing experience. I took an opportunity that required me to commute two hours each way, every day. I slept on friends’ couches. I got my MBA. I put in blood, sweat and tears to build my career and land my dream marketing job.

I’d made it. I was right where I wanted to be on the corporate ladder, years ahead of schedule.

So why did the future look so blah?

When I looked around me, I saw people who were overworked, underfamilied and unhappy in their roles. No one was talking about “flexibility” or “balance” 12 years ago. We were all striving, but I was starting to wonder if I really wanted the prize at the end of the race.

I was newly married, and my wife and I were beginning to think about a family. I knew I wanted to be a fully present husband and father. That day in Switzerland, I realized that the traditional corporate track might not give me that opportunity.

I knew it was time to make a change. It was now or never.

Going Indy

That’s when I started reimagining my dream job. I thought life as a free agent might be right for me. But I had no idea where to start. If I worked as an independent consultant, how would I get benefits for myself and my family? How did I set up my business? Who could help me get started? How would I find consistent work? Could I really do this?

I could. It took me a lot of trial and error, and a lot of generous advice from friends and mentors, but 12 years later, I’ve found my groove. I worked on my own for a few years, built up a book of business, developed relationships inside companies that needed my skill set and eventually, I scaled a team and a company around me. These days, the firm I started, Antenna, supports nearly 20 corporate staff and more than 100 consultants in the field.

I’m glad I spent my Swiss vacation locked in a hotel room on my laptop. That day opened my eyes to the changes I needed to make — and to the opportunities that were right in front of me.

Now, I’m on a mission to help others make the leap to the Indy lifestyle. If you’re freelancing on the side, thinking about making the jump out of a corporate job or you’re already building a solo consulting practice or small business, Indypendently is for you.

Our team will share advice, tools and resources to help you get started with independent work, grow your business and navigate this career path. Plus, we’ll share inspiring stories from other independents who are working toward their own definition of career success.

About The Author

Brendon Schrader is an entrepreneur, executive and business coach. He resides in the ‘Bold North’ of Minneapolis and is always up for a good cup of coffee. Brendon has published his ideas in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc. Magazine and more.