Ever dream of being your own boss? Imagine calling the shots where you work? Tired of feeling like other people control your life? Join the club. I hear from a lot of people who are ready to do their own thing. Or at least escape doing someone else's. Which reminds me of a song that was popular in the 1960s, "Both Sides, Now." Feel free to sing along with my updated "cubicle" version:
"Memos and pulling out your hair, decisions left up in the air,
"And little tyrants everywhere, I've looked at work that way.
"But now it only blocks my fun, it makes me mad at everyone,
"So many things I could have done, but my job got in my way!"
Believe it or not, many people have escaped the corporate hallways to start their own businesses. And with all the technology out there, it's easier than ever to challenge the big boys (yes, they're still mostly boys). But before you start planning your escape, it's important to take a long look in the mirror to see if you have the courage to take that big step from a 10th-floor cubicle to working from your kitchen table. Thousands of intrepid souls have made that leap, but it's not for everyone. Unfortunately, a lot more end up selling out on their dreams than end up selling stock in their companies. So I've come up with four questions to help you take your own entrepreneurial pulse.
-- You're used to playing one role in a big organization; can you adjust to playing multiple roles in a small shop? In the corporate world, there's a specialist for every detail. In your own shop, you're the chief cook and bottle washer. Do you have the skills and the patience to juggle it all?
-- You're used to minimizing risk; can you learn to love it? Corporations treat risk the way Japanese chefs treat blowfish: a tiny bit, carefully prepared, and only on special occasions. In startups, risk is the main course. Do you have the stomach for it?
-- You're used to a steady paycheck; can you live with fewer deposits? Most entrepreneurs start out with Mercedes dreams but keep the Chevy a lot longer than they thought. Are you ready to chuck the expense account for a more humble lifestyle?
-- You're used to having colleagues; can you learn to love life on your own? Your co-workers may drive you crazy, but at least they're there. The support and insight of colleagues is the thing that most entrepreneurs miss the most.
If you've passed this "test" -- and if you've got a darn good business idea -- go for it! Kiss your boss goodbye. Because as Joni Mitchell could have said:
"Tears and fears and feeling proud, I said, 'I'm outta here!' right out loud.
"Dreams and schemes and IPOs, now I look at work that way.
"My old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say I've changed,
"Sure, something's lost, but something's gained: I'm working my own way!"
HIRE A NEW BOSS, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
-- Can you adjust to playing multiple roles in a small shop?
-- Can you learn to love risk?
-- Can you live with fewer paychecks?
-- Can you learn to love life on your own?
LIST OF THE WEEK
From Cornell University
-- 56 percent of purchases at self-service gas stations in upstate New York ended in .00.
-- 7 percent ended in .01 (reflecting failed attempts to stop at whole dollar amounts).
-- This shows a preference for round number payment amounts.
"The best way to predict the future is to create it." -- Peter Drucker