Thursday, September 11, 2014

Leaving corporate America

     Free daily tips, information, advice, ideas and examples taken from real life
     and my personal experience starting, operating and growing small businesses.

     Corporate America and small business America occupy different planets. They speak different languages. The culture is completely different.

     People who run small businesses are "can do" people. But you know that. You're one of them. 

     Example: Mary had a long and successful career at a major international corporation. The time came when the company offered several employees early retirement packages. Mary decided to take the substantial payout and set up a small business of her own. She took some time off. Then she bought a fast food franchise, joined the local chamber of commerce, and proudly held a grand opening. Then the hard lessons came. She quickly got an education in the differences between small business America and the corporate position she had left behind. She found herself mopping the floor when the cleaning people didn't show. She calmed down upset customers, calling the police when a drunk would not leave. She jumped in when the cook fell ill. Exhausted, she subsequently sold the business. Today, Mary makes pottery in her garage studio and is building a business she loves. 

     In corporate America, there is a department for everything. When there's a problem, you call someone. Or you hold a meeting.

     In small business America, you are it. You handle whatever comes up. Yours are the hands you depend on.

     Example: John also took an early retirement package from a major company. He had decades of experience, part of a corporate team selling the company's products to a long list of clients. John invested his payout, tucking it all away in municipal bonds. Then he started a one-man business as an independent manufacturer's representative--being careful not to compete with his former employer. But the clients he already knew needed other products, and they received him warmly when he called. John also used these relationships to network his way to additional possibilities. He quickly built his own small business based on what he already knew. The last time we talked, he wondered aloud why he didn't leave corporate America sooner.

     Everyone I ever met in corporate America has thought about leaving. That prospect of a nice little business of your own, where you're the boss, is always appealing--especially when you're sitting in those endless meetings.  

     When you do decide to leave, however, to start a business, make sure it's doing something you love. That way, you won't mind all those dirty details that pop up. 

     Leaving corporate America is a big step. I know. I did it myself when I was 35. Now, at 78, I wonder why it took me so long.  

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