A friend was effectively eliminated from the traditional corporate work force in the early 1990’s. It was traumatic. He was a college graduate. He had climbed the corporate ladder, rapidly, inexorably. He enjoyed a six-figure income, a second home, club memberships, prosperous investment accounts, wonderful benefit packages, a College investment plan for his three kids, sports cars and extensive travel. He was devastated! But, it became the best thing that ever happened to him, children included.

He went from regularity, a false sense of security and believing that he enjoyed a bit of that “Master of the Universe” complex, to really considering things he had taken for granted. Yeah, he was down for a few weeks. The house was glum. What was next? However, fairly quickly, he realized that he had to make things happen. Things weren’t going to be falling into his lap. He needed to start thinking like an entrepreneur.

It can be difficult re-learning to think like an entrepreneur. Why do I use the word “re-learning”? Simply because, we are all entrepreneurs at some point during our lives. A kid cutting grass, or working a paper route is a budding entrepreneur. The ritual of seeking a job requires a certain amount of entrepreneurial dash. Selling one-self to the opposite sex requires self-marketing and packaging. Presenting a thesis and selling arguments to professors is an entrepreneurial act.

Until we enter the corporate world almost all of our efforts share elements of entrepreneurial activity. Then the Mr. Big Corporation enters our lives and things seem to change. Report at this time, to this address, to Mr. Smith, your boss, for an agreed pay packet and a certain benefit package. Do this consistently, and fairly well, and we will move you along at our pace, the classic “Career Path”. Our actions become focused on job performance, judged by the Corporations standards. We adapt professionally. We also adapt our family and social life to the corporate ethos.

And then, that ethos was gone. My friend had to adjust and rapidly. Here are a few recommendations he found of great value in successfully making the change from a corporate to entrepreneurial lifestyle. First he broke his life into manageable components, a bit of introspection here.
Put Family First

Nothing earth shattering here, my friend had been a good parent. The children were a joy. And yet, he knew he could have attended more recitals, games and parties. He immediately began to be more active as a family group. He enjoyed activities together more and began to appreciate how quickly time slips away. When children grow up, they move on. That opportunity to be involved in a daily basis is gone. Don’t waste a minute of this precious time.

As much as possible, keep the children generally in the knowledge loop on current business affairs. All of a sudden he wasn’t going to work. How do you hide that? Also, make every effort to place a positive, forward- looking face on your reality.

Family Budget Priorities

My friend sat down and seriously analyzed current assets and liabilities. What did he spend that was not really a necessity? Starbucks? Dinners out? Movie Rentals? Underused automobiles? Pool Service? He discovered that his lifestyle could be well maintained by simply being more aware of his spending patterns and considering each purchase. Was it a need, or a want?

He also involved the children in spending decisions particular to them. Was a club necessary? What about that two week summer camp? A new formal might not be in the budget. They were remarkably mature and agreeable to the idea of relative shared sacrifice.

The Social Network

Be direct with friends and family. You have been outsourced, downsized or, God forbid, terminated (a better word than Fired!) No sense hiding the truth. Lying is such hard work. You have enough on your plate.

Where to Go for Income?

If there is one recommendation every corporate ex-employee should recognize it is this: Time is not your friend! After the shock of your release, a few tears, maybe a beer or two, immediately start assembling a Personal Business Plan. Honestly consider every detail in your current life situation. Including:
* Your Age * Short Term Needs * Relocation Options
* Window of Time * Savings * Expenses
* Interests * Family Flexibility * Severance
* Health * Corporate options * Networks

Ben Franklin, our great Founding Father, used to settle difficult questions in his typically logical way. He took a piece of paper and drew a line right down the middle. On one side he marked a +, on the other column he marked a -. Then he considered each element of his problem and honestly placed that issue in the appropriate column. When he had exhausted his list, he counted the items assigned to each column. The side with the most entries indicated the proper decision for old Ben to take.

Do this, as honestly as possible. More often than not, there is an interest, a skill or hobby that you have always dreamt of utilizing as your source of income. It worked for him. He loved sales and marketing. That became his avenue of financial resurrection, and more importantly, it has lead to a freedom and lifestyle more exciting and varied than he would have considered possible. Making a living doing something you love is a blessing and many more people can achieve this today than ever before in history.

A cell phone, a computer, inter-net access and a web-site can be the basis of a business. Over 700,000 people alone make a living in full, or part, on eBay. Think like an entrepreneur. What did you do for Mr. Big Corp.? Approach similar clients and customers with a customized, targeted list of services. Put your years of experience to use. Research the market for opportunities. Write a realistic business plan for your new enterprise. There are more start-ups in the United States every year than every place in the world; combined. It pays off to be an entrepreneur in the USA!

Work from home. Attend trade shows. Consider being a re-seller from shopping mall kiosks. Contract out services to call centers. Be a consultant in your area of expertise. Send out Press releases on your project. Your network of past work associates and clients is your best future customer base. Partner with a Company already in your field, come aboard as an independent contractor. Work part-time for several firms until something opens in one. Wow them with effort, positive attitude, results, and creativity.

The Mr. Big Corp’s of the world do not owe you a career. They make decisions based on market realities. That shouldn’t mean that your continued success potential is limited or damaged. Your opportunities are open ended.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. (www.duquesamarketing.com) has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.