So, our economy has changed. And one of the ways it has changed is it that there are many, many people once employed by large corporations who no longer have their jobs. The ages of these people vary, of course, but a sizable number are 40-ish and older; they’re far too young to retire, and not sure what comes next.
There are several options. One is to search for another corporate position; another is to return to school and retrain for another type of career. A third option, and the one I’m interested in talking about here, is the decision to start your own business.
The time you spent working in the corporate environment may have built the skills and expertise you’re depending on to launch your new enterprise. That’s a good thing. At the same time, corporations generally have the size and resources to fund specialized departments to take care of specific, essential business tasks, such as IT and marketing. When you’re on your own, you don’t have those departments to rely upon or delegate to.
The most common mistake post-corporate entrepreneurs make is to try to replicate the skill set of the marketing of the IT and marketing departments on their own, even if their professional training and expertise lie wholly outside that area. This is especially applicable in the area of social media marketing – after all, we’ve all been on Facebook forever. How hard could it possibly be to use it for business purposes?
What happens next explains why one out of every two new businesses fail. Entrepreneurs try to do everything themselves, only to discover they don’t actually have the skills and abilities to do things they’ve never been trained to do in a way that their customers find acceptable and appealing. Something will fall apart, whether it’s an insecure website design that leaves customer data vulnerable to hackers or a social media meltdown that makes your brand look absolutely terrible.
It turns out that IT and marketing require skill and training in much the same way accounting and the law do. If you’d never dream of trusting your new company to an amateur bookkeeper or an aspiring attorney, why would you leave equally important functions to someone who’s less than the best at what they do? Factor the expense of an appropriate level of professional support in these areas into your operating budget right from the get-go. They’re not add-ons or extras; they’re the core of your business’ success and should be treated as such.
People who are transitioning from corporate life to entrepreneurship who take this approach to IT and marketing services tend to be successful. Those that don’t tend to fail in dramatic and expensive ways. This is something to keep in mind as you’re planning out the next stage in your career.