Courage and the Well-Employed

by Kenyon Riches of the Buffalo-Niagara Chapter of SCORE

Those who take the greatest risks – those who have the most to lose - require the greatest courage.  This message is for the “well-employed”.  These are the people who take the greatest risks when they step out into a new venture.  They give up salary, benefits, vacations, and security, often at a period in their lives when they have significant obligations, i.e., mortgages, family, looming college expenses, etc. 

If you are among the well-employed and yearn to someday own your own business, your career planning is important.  You must position yourself to have the skills to step out into a “total business” situation. Be aware that in a corporate situation your view may be limited – to manufacturing, marketing, finance, administration or technical services However, if you are to lead a company, you must have a good grasp of all facets of the business.  Your business plan must demonstrate that understanding.

Try to obtain varied responsibilities and business-related experiences.  For example, if you are in a technical position, try to associate with new product planning or new market development. Marketing and strategic planning skills are important for any business venture, and you can gain valuable insights through your association as a team member.  It is also important that you understand the balance sheet, profit & loss and cash flow statements. You must understand how they are related and how they flow and impact each other.  You may not have an MBA, but you can supplement your education by taking a few undergraduate business courses and attend business workshops such as those given by SCORE and other entrepreneurial support organizations.

Some business opportunities appear when a corporation divests itself of a division that is failing or no longer fits their strategic plan.  These opportunities are few, and are usually not advertised, but they may be worth the search, especially if they are within your realm of experience.  Often the existing managers are given preferential opportunity to put together a plan to purchase the division. 

So, you well-employed potential entrepreneur, you must plan – first your career – and then for the business venture in which you will risk much and have much to lose.  The real courage is needed to make the decision to leave the security of a good job

Courage and the Well-Employed