Seize The Day

Noam Wasserman of Harvard Business School looks at some of the fundamental realities of owning your own shop.

Are you one of the many executives who’d love to leave the corporate battleship to skipper a speedy, nimble start-up? And are you using a variety of rationales for why it’s not yet time to go? Reasons such as: I need to work on my résumé, acquire more credibility, learn to manage better, figure out how financing really works, maintain stability at home while my children are young?
Those are legit reasons, of course, but while you’re waiting for everything to fall into place, you’re acquiring big-company habits that can hurt you if and when you ever make the move. Long tenures in corporate jobs keep you from becoming the self-reliant jack-of-all-trades that a new venture requires. You get used to having HR specialists take care of HR issues for you, finance aces prepare reports for you, and IT whizzes maintain the company infrastructure. You become accustomed to delegating and to distancing yourself from “real work” — a luxury that just isn’t possible in a start-up.

I know we have some community members here that jumped from a holding company’s air craft carrier of agencies to their own swift boat. Hopefully, we can hear from them in the comments.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.