Friday, October 3, 2008

Entrepreneurial Career Options

When it comes to careers, you have two options: Work for someone else or work for yourself.

As I’ve written previously, the first option will become considerably more difficult in the upcoming months, so if you haven’t considered the second, now would be a good time to identify and explore entrepreneurial possibilities.

Entrepreneurship can take many forms, from independent consultancy to the formulation of a business, from the development of a local service company to the acquisition of a multinational franchise.

In other words, no matter how meager the job market gets, if you’ve prepared for worst case scenarios, a well executed entrepreneurial option can give you a way to survive and possibly thrive in difficult times.

Risk-averse executives

The magnitude of risk aversion expressed by those who have been employed their entire careers seems to increase in proportion to their status in the company. I’ve coached many successful senior-level executives who are highly reluctant to strike out on their own.

For all their accomplishments, they are less confident than many newly arriving immigrants in their ability to make it outside the corporate cocoon. For them, the notion of starting or buying any kind of business is fraught with angst, doubt, fear, rationalizations, etc. They want the safety net they think an employer provides along with a steady salary, benefits, perks, etc.

Unfortunately, during times of economic crisis, the financial well being of many companies can be in far worse shape than the personal portfolios of its employees.

Where is the safety net when that happens?

Entrepreneurship vs. Employment

While “being your own boss” is a not-so-secret wish of many executives who glamorize the independence it brings, the likelihood of success is never certain. It’s that uncertainty that often stops them from pursuing it.

Well, the likelihood of job-finding success in the current corporate marketplace is also becoming increasingly uncertain and may only get worse in the months ahead.

When that happens, adding the active pursuit of an entrepreneurial option may make good sense.

Because, when the uncertainty associated with finding a job or entrepreneurship starts to level out, spending time pursuing one or the other presents a more equal risk/reward ratio … with one key difference:

For the foreseeable future, executive employment opportunities may be fewer and harder to find than innovative entrepreneurial options.

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