Marcus Lyon is co-founder and Executive Director of Brunswick Group, a property development company based in Melbourne. Before he founded Brunswick Group, he was an Executive Director at Plenary Group, a business that invests in, develops and operates public infrastructure.
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| Much of his prospecting work inevitably resulted in dead ends, but by committing large portions of time to it, Marcus was able to ensure that there were successes alongside the rejections.
After six years working for Plenary, Marcus realised that he wanted to work in a smaller, less corporate environment and set out to start his own firm. While Marcus is now very successful, branching out on your own is rarely a smooth endeavour. Marcus shares some of his advice for taking that next, risky step.
Try to time your exit well
While it may be impossible to line up a neat milestone moment, it's a good idea to take your time before making the big plunge. By not rushing, you'll be better able to tie up loose ends and leave on a good note.
Marcus was lucky enough to find an opportune moment to leave, upon finalising a big project. Because he left after the rush of getting everything finished, he was able to facilitate a smooth hand-over and stay on good terms with the partners.
Adjust your lifestyle to give yourself more runway
Transitioning to your own firm can mean sizable lifestyle changes. "You give yourself a meagre salary," Marcus says. "With property development it’s a three to four-year turnaround before you get paid. So you need to be able to sustain yourself financially for a long period of time." While this shift can take some adjusting to - especially for those accustomed to a certain lifestyle - it's important to think of reducing your salary as a long-term investment.
After starting out, Marcus committed large sums of his own money towards his new business to ensure they had at least 18-months of "runway". By sacrificing personal luxuries for future business growth, he was able to sustain himself for long enough to explore potential ventures within his new business and commit to giving it the best possible shot.
Dedicate time towards pursuing new opportunities
In the early days of running his own firm, Marcus dedicated 50 percent of his time to his existing development projects and 50 percent towards prospecting new work. Much of his prospecting work inevitably resulted in dead ends, but by committing large portions of time to it, Marcus was able to ensure that there were successes alongside the rejections.
Marcus also believes it's crucial to get a few projects underway before leaving the nest. Marcus had a few, smaller side projects that he was working on independently before starting his own firm. These projects made for a smoother transition and guaranteed cash flow.
Securing big projects is great, but they can take years to pay off. Unfortunately, that can be a real challenge when starting a new business. Having a few smaller jobs means that there's less time to wait until your first pay check. That said, while you're still an employee the work you do for your employer should always come first.