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“I have worked for a long time…for others” said a friend. “I now want to set up shop on my own.” It is interesting to find that increasingly people wish to start off on their own.

My advice to those who have such a dream is:

First, clearly establish the reason d’etre for the decision. What’s the prime driver?


Most people give politically correct answers to this question. To help budding entrepreneurs clarify their thinking, I list here some of the more common reasons with my comments on each one of them:-

  1. Believing the grass looks greener on the other side. Here we selectively see some of the “perks”. Yes, you are your own boss but you have more responsibility than ever before. The buck, as the old saying goes, stops with you.
  2. Looking to perform some parts of a job but not others. This is typified by the “I want to do the top level consulting. The details can be done by others” school of thought. An ambitious intent but being on your own means doing just about everything, most certainly in the first phase of your new career.
  3. Being uncomfortable in a work relationship. ” My boss is driving me round the bend. I can’t wait to get the hell out of here”. Starting on your own is not the answer. Understanding why the relationship went sour and learning to do a better job of managing relationships the next time is.
  4. Looking to contribute to society: ” I want to give back to society and those who are less privileged”. Very noble and laudable intention but temper this with reality. Is setting up something on your own the best way to achieve your goal? Have you thought through the risks associated with setting up your own organisation?
  5. Looking to gain more ownership. Typified by the ” I want to be my own boss” school of thought. Excellent reason provided you have, besides this urge, the competence to develop and provide products and services that customers are willing to buy on a sustained basis.
  6. Looking to implement own ideas: Another good reason but this one needs, apart from the know how, the ability- financial as well as psychological- to take risks, to stake a first claim on something and be able to translate that great idea to commercial viability.

General George S Patton, Jr. the World War II hero, was someone I admired immensely.

I close with one of his quotations: ” The time to take counsel of your fears is before make an important battle decision. That’s the time to listen to every fear you can imagine!

When you have collected all the facts and fears and made your decision, turn off all your fears and go ahead!”

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This is the 113 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success

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