THE BLOG
02/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

You Aren't in Kansas Anymore

Corporate employees and small business owners may as well live on two different planets. Corporate employees work hard to meet the goals and objectives of their organizations just as small business owners do. But unlike small business owners, corporate employees never have to worry about making payroll or keeping the lights turned on. There's no need to stress over aging accounts receivable because the corporate accounting department handles that. Bad press, a missed deadline or a failed project can certainly create turmoil and stress in the corporate world, but when it happens to a small business owner, it could mean the end of the road. Entrepreneurs don't have a safety net. If they screw it up, there's no one else to blame.

In today's economy, millions of corporate employees are getting the boot and a significant number of them are choosing to migrate to the world of small business without an appreciation for the chasm that exists. Stripped of their title, comfortable office, dependable salary and support systems, these corporate casualties are in for a crash landing. You aren't in Kansas anymore. So let me share some quick survival tips.

First, upon entry to the land of small business, remember people here speak a different language. No one cares what you used to do for Big Name Company. You're on your own here, kid. It's up to you to prove your value.

Secondly, don't make the mistake of spending lots of money on marketing materials, a web site and office space. Here in the small business world, bootstrapping is the key to success and we'll be happy to share our resources to help you look big without spending big. We're all about collaboration.

As you get started, don't get frustrated when you have to do it all yourself. In our world, no job is too small for the CEO. Your job description encompasses janitorial work, bookkeeping, sales, administrative tasks, mail-room duties and generally everything else. It's overwhelming at first, but you'll get used to it.

You may be great at doing what you do, but that alone isn't enough on this planet. To succeed, you must understand the basic principles of running a business too. There's a huge difference between creating a job and building a business. A job generates revenue as long as you continue to work, but if you stop, so does the money. A business is bigger than you alone and it is sustainable without you.

Finally, you only think you had ulcers in the corporate world. Running a small business requires you to work longer and harder than you've ever worked in your life. Plus, you're adding the burden of putting at least part of your personal finances at risk. In the early stages of my company, I used to joke about loving my job so much, I paid to go to work every day.

Once you've embraced the nuances of the small business world, I bet you'll find it the best time of your life. It's high risk and high reward, but I'd never trade it for the corporate world. Small business is the American dream.

-- Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO, SBTV.com

For more check out my Reinvent Your Career book and content.