To succeed in post-corporate life, you must become a business owner instead of an employee. This takes an entirely different mind-set than you may be used to.
Your economic survival suddenly depends on spending money only on things that will MAKE money, not on those things that are symbols of a rapidly vanishing lifestyle. If your big house can be written off as a legitimate business expense, great! If not, you had better think of better uses for that money. You might be able to buy a franchise to support and employ your family with the money you have tied up in your home.
There is plenty of opportunity, but for the most part, you are going to find it in the old-fashioned way, by satisfying other people’s needs!
"How quaint!" you exclaim. But, I am a senior director with vast responsibilities and a membership in the country club, and children who are taking riding lessons and….
Correction. If you have entered the post-corporate zone, you WERE a senior manager/director/poobah/whatever and you had better start converting your assets into something that will generate income. You either figure out a way to do things that people need and will pay for or you will go into a dwindling spiral and end up in very bad shape.
Life outside the corporate mothership does not necessarily involve wearing Birkenstocks and foraging for edible plants. It can mean living on a boat in some out of the way marina, or guiding tourists, or selling real estate and living large in the most desirable areas of our country. It is an open-ended opportunity and you must think like a business owner to take advantage of what is there for you.
One of the biggest barriers that a successful middle manager faces is that she or he typically has had no contact with customers or any part of the real world that matters. When I was in a successful start-up some years ago, I was approached by a senior marketing manager from IBM who was considering a transition to a smaller, more interesting company. In two hours of conversation, I was unable to determine what he actually did! He made no decisions on features, pricing, forecasting and he never dealt with customers. He was sort of a liaison between groups that were coordinating other groups…you get the idea, I’m sure. He worked very hard and he made lots of money, but he had nothing of value for a company that was making and selling real-time computers to industry.
If you are in this kind of situation, you need to get real. By the time the corporation is done with you, it is vital that you have accumulated business skills that can scale to whatever you need to do next.
Post-corporate life has very few opportunities with layers and layers of organization to hide in and manipulate. You will need sales and marketing skills that you can put to work immediately. If you have design skills, they must be honed to the point that you can convert a customer need into a product efficiently and profitably. You need to hone your negotiating skills so you can establish a fair exchange for what you do or sell.
There are sources of information which will help you determine what opportunities exist and I will discuss them in future posts. But, before you can profitably use them, you need to examine your current mind-set and see if it needs readjustment from employee to business owner. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results of such an adjustment. It may open doors that you never expected.