Monday, August 11, 2008

Share Your Small Business Dream

Recently, I have heard a couple of more people tell me about the unexpected rewards they found from telling others at their big company about their small business aspirations. Most people fear the negative results that they feel are inevitable by not being a "company man" (or "woman", of course). Granted, there will be those companies or bosses that use this information against you, but many people are finding the net benefits that accrue to those that open up.

There can be a lot of factors at play, and this is not an area to be entered into blindly. Your relationship with your manager is probably more critical than the company itself, but a corporate culture that rewards solid contributors and seeks the best for its employees can embrace these aspirations. Many companies recognize that the qualities that can make you a solid teammate and a hard worker align with the qualities required to succeed in small business. It is analogous to the company that acknowledges that its best employees will be most attractive to headhunters -- so it had better keep those people happy. One of my first managers used to say that he liked to know his employees were looking at their external options and either continuing to affirm their commitment to their current job or finding something truly better for themselves.

A concept I have raised previously also comes into play in this communication -- what is the worst that could happen? If you are communicating this dream, you are already at some point on the path. Regardless of the point on the path, you will likely be surprised at the options that can be made available. Consider a few:
  • Entrepreneurs need a variety of skills. Your manager and their peers can help find diverse opportunities within your company to give you a diversified skill base while providing cross-pollination within the company.
  • Some big companies spawn small business ventures. These efforts and teams are often not widely publicized, but an attractive opportunity may be within your existing firm.
  • People within your company might know of external opportunities. Depending on your personal relationships with your boss/co-workers, these people may respond with "I know someone you need to talk to." Bang!
Again, consider the possible negative outcomes and ways to minimize those, but in most cases the positives will outweigh the negatives in reality. Not every boss is a Lumbergh.

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