The Corporate America vs. Entrepreneur Showdown

Posted on September 21, 2012. Filed under: Consulting/Contracting | Tags: , , |

By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

Not too long after the meltdown with unemployment began in the United States, across social media, there was some buzz surrounding the declaration by a well-known Internet marketer that job seekers should just quit the job search and start their own companies instead. The reaction among career support professionals was mixed. Some loved the advice. Others hated it. And many others fell somewhere in between.

As for me, I think it is like so many of these things…it got the reaction it was looking for. In other words, it produced the shock value it needed to get everyone talking about it.

So does that mean I disagree? Not exactly. As a small business owner who left the corporate world to try my own venture (which has thankfully done well), of course I think I made a great decision. But as a job search coach who works with hundreds and hundreds of job seekers each year, I can honestly say that not everyone is suited for being a business owner (much like not everyone is suited for being a lawyer [thank God]). And it is pretty unrealistic to think that will happen. (Not to mention the logical implications of it as well…if we all owned businesses, who would do the leg work…most business owners need support, etc.)

For some job seekers, a layoff, firing, and so on is just the push they need to move forward on that great business idea they have always wanted to try.

And with some startup capital available and a good understanding of their market, they go for it.

But for those job seekers who see starting their own business as just a way out of a bad time for job searching and are looking for that interim thing (see my post titled “Hey, Consultants, You Are Entrepreneurs Too“), the plan could backfire. For one, leaving the corporate world is a big decision. Even though corporate America is grinding, to say the least, being a business owner is probably one of the hardest jobs out there, particularly if you have to start the business from the ground up.

And corporate America does not always value the little guy. So if you want to go back to corporate life a couple years down the road, not everyone is going to welcome you back, happy to see that entrepreneur experience on your resume (many like the entrepreneurial spirit, but most don’t really want renegade entrepreneurs on their “teams”; in other words, act like one, but don’t actually be one!).

Second, to make a business work, you have to really love at the very least some aspect of it or you will fall flat pretty quickly. For me, I love negotiating and dealing with people. My business partner, on the other hand, loves to make it rain. So after she goes in and creates the possibility (often out of thin air), I like to come in and finalize the particulars. It works great now, but it took a long time to figure that out. And it was only drive and determination (and necessity) that made us figure it out.

If we had been in it just to keep us going until we went back to corporate life, it never would have worked.

Still other job seekers out there just want and desire to be part of the corporate rat race. They like support roles. Or they like coming in and learning the structure in place, and figuring out how to maneuver in it. That is where the excitement comes into play for them. They want to see the upward mobility and know the potential. They like being a part of something, a group, team, etc. They don’t want to start it; they want to make it grow or sustain what’s already in place. I’m not sure how these types of people could be expected to be business owners (unless, like me, they had a real rainmaker at their side). And there is nothing wrong with this. These are the people business owners dream about!

So the point is that you really need to know the kind of worker you are.

Finally, even if you are a business owner, truly, you are always working for somebody.

Honestly, I never had so many bosses until I started working for myself. If you need to make cash (and we all do), you need someone to give it to you. And that someone (or someones) becomes your boss, at least for a period of time, so to speak.

So the decision really is whether you have the entrepreneurial temperament combined with a strong business concept, perseverance, and startup funds.

If you don’t, that’s fine…just don’t bother.

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