Would You Quit Your Job for a Whole New Career?

Posted by Madison on March 17, 2009

I mentioned while reflecting on leaving my job that my husband is reevaluating his plan to work. He was presented with a unique career opportunity, but he only essentially had 2 days to make a decision.


I mentioned that my dad was in the hospital. He was recovering slowly, but wasn’t able to return to his job at the time. He’s a self-employed business owner of 30 years, but has no employees. That means no one to run the business while he’s gone.

His business is about 75% sales, but there is plenty of physical labor involved.

My husband, Scott, has a job at our University as a computer programmer. He’s been there about 10 years and likes his job.

Obviously, the two careers are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Scott currently has a salaried, office job, with terrific state benefits in the IT world. My dad has a manual, self employed business, in a field Scott doesn’t know anything about.


Can you guess where I’m going? When my dad got sick, it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be able to run the business anymore. I thought, why not have Scott take over my dad’s business? After all, I didn’t want to see my dad’s business close, since I’ve grown up around it and I feel a bit of emotional attachment to it.

I pitched the idea to Scott and my parents. One day later we had a plan devised. However, because my dad’s business had been closed for two weeks already, time was of the essence. Scott needed to make a decision immediately.


We discussed various pros and cons all weekend. Here were some of our bigger discussions:

Health Insurance. Scott carries our health insurance, which is the primary reason he stayed at his job when I quit. It’s really important considering the upcoming birth of our next child. We got some quotes from our local HMOs and the price right now is fine…. since we’re all healthy. However, the variability of the health insurance market is something I’m not sure I feel up to placing bets on.

Different Field. Did I mention they are in two completely different fields? Scott would have a steep learning curve, although my dad would be more than willing to teach him. Probably the most valuable asset to the company is my dad’s knowledge, so Scott would have to work really hard to learn as much as he could from my dad.

Being Your Own Boss. Since Scott has watched me stay at home over the last six months and seen the business take off, he has started to consider working for himself more and more. The appeal of being your own boss is something that really is starting to entice him.

Established Business. Because my dad’s business has been around for 30 years, it isn’t like Scott would be starting from scratch. There is a solid customer base, and the majority of sales would continue, even if my dad handed over the business.

Income. The income wasn’t really a factor in the decision, as either position would allow enough income for Scott to continue his hobbies. However, the appeal of being able to have a more direct impact on the income is something that interests him, since his raises are currently not usually tied to performance.

Stability. Because Scott works for our local University, his job is pretty stable. Each time the state faces budget cuts, it’s something that comes up, but overall, his job is much more stable than many in the current economy.

Expansion. One of the possibilities for taking over the business was the ability for Scott to use technology to update it. Currently the business has local customers, however, developing an online presence and a distribution system, could mean endless possibilities, and using some of Scott’s technical background.

Will He Like It? A huge factor, would be whether or not he actually enjoys the work. We thought it might be good for Scott to go to work with my dad for a few days to see if it’s something he might like. We also considered using part of Scott’s upcoming paternity leave to give it a trial run for six months or so.

Back Up Plan. I like to have a plan in place in case things don’t go as planned. If Scott decided after a year, that he hated it, would he be able to return to the computer field? And in a job that he enjoys?

His Decision

Find out what he decided in: The Decision on a Whole New Career.

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Comments to Would You Quit Your Job for a Whole New Career?

  1. This is an interesting dilemma. My opinion, don’t leave your day job until you know for sure you like it. I think the most important thing to consider is how will your hubby like working with your dad, and also, how will he like the job itself. I don’t know about your parents, but most parents tend to want to have some control. Will your dad be able to give up his life-long job and keep out of the business once your hubby has taken over? Taking over a business from a family member could cause problems down the road, especially if the business is not in your hubby’s field of expertise.

    Whatever you guys decide, I wish you the best!



  2. You’ve mentioned that you have your own business. If you don’t mind me asking, what is your own business? It’s super awesome to be your own boss and stay home to take care of your kids…. I mean, i am pretty sure most of moms will want to stay home to take care of their kids and still be able to bring in income….


  3. Two self-employed individuals in the same household, should be interesting 😉


  4. “Will he like it?” is not only a huge factor, it is THE CRITICAL factor on which success hinges. Your Dad’s business is 75% sales and your husband is a computer programmer at a university. Those are hugely different areas on opposite ends of the spectrum. It’s rare to find an individual that excels at sales *and* enjoys computer programming (Bill Gates comes to mind?). Programming guru’s are often introverts (get energy via “alone time”), sales stars are usually extroverts (get energy via socializing). Yes, test-driving the business for several months is highly recommended before quitting his day job.


  5. A job in IT is a layoff waiting to happen. It will happen at the worst possible time. You face a very uncertain future with the sole breadwinner working as a programmer. Governments are going broke at the moment. This wave of layoffs is just getting started. Sorry to be so blunt about it. It is a very painful lesson that I am passing on.

    Lost Cause

  6. If he’s game… why not? It sounds like the business will fail unless someone ( your husband ) takes over almost immediately. If he wants to give it a shot, then there’s not a ton of downside. The freedom of working for ones self is all the upside I need to hear. Tell him to go for it!

    Llama Money

  7. Your husband should do this becus HE wants to, not becus he feels guilted into it by his wife. I am sorry about your dad’s situation, but i think it’s unfair to push Scott into leaving a secure job with good benefits that he likes for the big unknown, in a field he knows nothing about. What happens when your dad eventually returns to the business? It sounds like things could get complicated.

    Sorry for being so blunt, but that’s just the way it struck me, from what you’ve told us.


  8. Maybe he could take a 3 month leave of absence to determine if he’s suitable and if the business is to his personal liking. This is a tough decision, though. Wow.


  9. Hi Madison,

    I am a natural born risk taker so my answer is yes I would do it. I like the challenge of learning new things and getting good at them. Although his job is stable now it might not be at any given time in the future. If I had the chance to take over an established business I would do it in a heartbeat!

    But thats me. Insurance sounds like the biggest issue to me. And whether he would enjoy it or not. But that depends on how much he truly enjoys his current job.

    The expansion idea also sounds very appealing. That one factor would probably push me over the edge.

    I would watch out for future resentment though. Give your husband total freedom to decide. If things don’t work out in the future he may resent you for pushing him toward this opportunity or even presenting it to him in the first place. Then again, he has his IT skills to fall back on.

    Ah heck, I would just do it!!!!!!! 😉


    Jeremy Day

  10. This is very interesting – I guess if I had a job that I really liked and I had to take over the family business – I’d hire someone to do it for me.

    Eves Bank

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