10 tips to help you navigate the rocky road from corporate exec to small business owner
Like many professionals in business today, I had to respond to changing circumstances and figure out how to succeed in an unanticipated situation. I had honed my skills in corporate America, and had been very successful, rising to the position of Vice President. I enjoyed what I did, had wonderful colleagues and expected to be there until I was ready to retire.
Unfortunately, the housing crisis and economic meltdown that followed dictated that things would not turn out quite as I expected. My organization was dissolved, my position eliminated and my choices were to try to obtain something akin to what I had lost, or to try something new. I chose the latter.
My first foray into the land of small business was to join a nine-person start-up as a partner, working for sweat equity. That lasted six months. While I chose ultimately to form my own consulting firm, which has been in place now for two-plus years, I did learn a lot from that first start-up experience.
10 Tips for Transitioning
Along the way, I have had my share of failures and successes. While, I am still evolving, I know that I have definitely learned some valuable lessons along the way. Here are 10 tips to those transitioning from large corporations to small businesses or start-ups.
1. Get things in writing.
If you are joining a start-up or small partnership, make sure you understand how voting rights and shares get distributed before you join! Getting things in writing forces this issue.
?2. Reframe your identity.
You no longer have the backing of a large multinational corporation. Learn to stand on your own merits and stop referencing your former employer. Figure out what your brand stands for and be true to it. Every business has a brand and you need to be clear about yours, even if you are a small firm.
?3. Make sure your training and skills are up to date.
I went back and got a certificate in Digital Media Marketing. It was frightening at first, but once I dug in, I loved it and did well.
?4. Understand who your true business friends are.
When you controlled millions in budgets you had many friends. Who is standing with you now that the budget is no longer there?
I learned this one the hard way when I went to give a presentation to a client and assumed that they would have a projector. They didnt and I had to improvise. They pointed out to me that not all organizations have the resources of IBM. Definitely an ouch moment!
About the author
Andrea Goldberg, PhD, is president and founder of Digital Culture Consulting, LLC and an expert in market intelligence, social media and change leadership. She provides organizations with a holistic perspective on how to best to use insights and collaboration to improve employee engagement, customer satisfaction and business results.