Friday, April 10, 2015

Goodbye corporate

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     Leaving corporate America to start a small business can be an education in itself. I know, because I did it.

     Lucky for me, I grew up in a family of small businesses. Drawing on that past experience, I was prepared for the daily activities of running a small business. 

     In corporate America, you don't worry so much about absent employees, finding new clients and customers, cash flow shortfalls, and cleaning the place up on a regular basis. In small business America, you are your own back-up. 

     Example: Catherine had a successful career at a major corporation. When the company offered early retirement packages, she took advantage of it and left with a substantial payout. She took some time off and looked around for a small business. She homed in on a fast food franchise, joined the local chamber, and proudly held a grand opening. Then the hard lessons came--fast and furious. She dealt with kitchen inspectors and signage people, she mopped the floor when the cleaning people didn't show up, she calmed upset customers, she jumped in the cook fell ill. Exhausted, Catherine sold the business. Today, she makes pottery in her garage studio and is building a business she loves.

     In corporate America, other departments are at your beck and call. Someone else can handle all the small problems. If there is a big problem, you hold a meeting. 

     In small business America, you are it. You handle whatever comes up. The hands you depend on are at the ends of your own arms. And there's no time for meetings. 

     Example: John also took an early retirement package from a major company. He had long experience as a company sales representative, and he had built up a substantial list of satisfied clients. John invested his payout in municipal bonds. Then he started a one-man business as an independent manufacturer's representative. He was careful not to compete with his former employer, but the clients knew him and he knew them and they needed other products and services. John used these relationships to quickly build a business of his own. 

     Most of the people I ever knew in corporate America have thought about leaving. There is something about being your own boss that is very appealing. 

     When you decide to leave, look in the mirror. Are you up to running your own operation? Do you know the business you are considering getting into? Do you have enough money to last at least a year with no paycheck? And, most importantly, what is the market for what you are considering? Where is that market headed? What is the competition? With the marketplace in mind, can you see your way clearly ahead? 

     The market for your products/services forms the basis for a business plan. All the pieces of your business plan come down to the bottom line. Numbers don't lie. 

     Corporate America and small business America live on different planets. They speak different languages. The culture is completely different. Before you jump, consider it carefully. 

     If you leave corporate America to establish your own small business, make certain that it is something you love. You must be passionate about the business you go into. That way, you won't mind all those dirty little details--like mopping the floor.   

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