10-year switch: Why entrepreneurs quit their day jobs to launch businesses

At GoDaddy, we pride ourselves in delivering the best possible support for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses online.

In days gone by we’d all have been told what the path to professional success should look like: study hard, start from the bottom of a prestigious company, climb the ladder to the next promotion, acquire experience and status within the company until retirement, etc. And for many people, this can be a rewarding professional life – until it’s not.

At GoDaddy, we pride ourselves in delivering the best possible support for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses online. Understanding how and why people decided to become entrepreneurs is key to achieving this. To get a better understanding, we surveyed more than 1,000 UK SME decision makers and business owners and asked them what their professional situation was like, before they launched their own venture, and what made them decide to become an entreprenuer. 

Interestingly, we found that business owners give in to their entrepreneurial itch after a decade in their day job on average. We’re dubbing this the 10-year switch. 

This decade working for someone else gives entrepreneurs the experience and knowledge they need to build a successful venture that fits exactly what they expect from their professional life. It’s unsurprising: five, ten or twenty years on, workers become more aware of what they want in their professional life, and whether their current career path provides that. Entrepreneurs often find that it doesn’t, and the data is telling: 41% of entrepreneurs switch from a long tenure in their day job because they want more flexibility, while 36% become tired of working for someone else. Salary also plays a role: 30% want to earn more money.

But focusing solely on practicalities would only be painting half of the picture. A significant portion of entrepreneurs decide to switch from their career to pursue a passion: 35% of those we surveyed said that by launching their own business they were following a dream, and nearly three quarters (70%) choose to launch a business in a different industry to the one they have previously worked in. For some 17% this was prompted by the pandemic after Covid-19 made them revaluate their life, and they since decided to launch a business.

Two such examples of these career switchers are GoDaddy customers, Julie Daly and Maxine Jones. 

Julie Daly, Operations Personnel Supervisor at an oil company turned interior designer, from Aberdeen, decided to make the switch from oil to entrepreneurship after 20 years working in the industry. Lockdown allowed her to re-evaluate her life and realise that she couldn’t see herself doing it for another 20 years, so she decided to change direction entirely. After enrolling onto The Professional Interior Design course at the College of Interior Design, she graduated with a diploma and launched her own studio. For her, moving into entrepreneurship has been a great learning curve: 

“I’m completely new to the business world so I’ve been spending hours learning, going to webinars, reading books and studying. As a business owner you’ve got to understand everything from marketing to finances so it’s been a massive learning curve for me but I’m enjoying the challenge.

Maxine Jones worked as an investment banker for over 20 years, before turning to exercise as a way to de-stress and unwind after a stressful day. But at the age of 40, she decided to turn this hobby into a career: she quit her job and launched her own Zumba classes in the local community centre. Eventually, she moved away from Zumba and morphed into MaxiciseTV, and in 2018, she started to livestream her classes online direct to clients so that they could workout from the comfort of their own home. 

Launching a business after decades in a specialised career takes a lot of confidence. It can be a scary process, but entrepreneurs like Julie and Maxine show that it’s never too late to follow a passion and overcome challenges. Career-switching entrepreneurs bring years of expertise and knowledge to their ventures, improving their chances of success. 

Microbusinesses are the backbone of the UK economy and need the right support to grow and prosper. When they thrive, we all thrive.

Ben Law
Ben Law

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