Corporate Detox Week: I Went For My Dream Job And Failed

For Corporate Detox week we will be talking with different people who decided they no longer wanted the stress of Corporate America and are now pursuing their dreams. We will look at the good, the bad and everything in between in these major career and life transitions.

“When you wish upon a star/Makes no difference who you are/Anything your heart desires will come to you/If your heart is in your dreams/No request is too extreme/When you wish upon a star, as dreamers do.”

Oh Jiminy Cricket. It is a lovely song but what he failed to mention is that sometimes when you wish upon a star and then actually get your dream it doesn’t mean it will actually last. Jiminy obviously didn’t factor in economic conditions, budgetary issues, product value, etc., We talked to a number of people for Corporate Detox Week about leaving the corporate world to pursue their dream jobs but it turned out to be more of a nightmare, at least temporarily.

According to statistics published by the Small Business Administration (SBA), seven out of 10 new employer establishments survive at least two years and 51%survive at least five years. But research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly six in 10 businesses shut down within the first four years of operation. These failures occur for a number of reasons including starting your business for the wrong reasons, poor management, lack of capital (that is a very big one), location and lack of planning. Dreams certainly are not as simple as wishing upon a star, especially when it comes down to income.

Shari McGuire said:

“I worked for 19 years at a very large corporation and was making a six figure income. I am also the sole bread winner for my family. In May, 2010 I walked away from that job because I had a dream to build my own business and I fully expected it to replace my income and then some within three months. I felt like I was on top of a mountain when I left my job. The freefall from the mountain without wings was frightening – watching our bank account go down and our once non-existent credit card debt go up and tapping into our retirement savings because my business failed miserably. Unfortunately, we didn’t adjust our budget which contributed to our debt.”

Rob Bedell of Bedell Media & Consulting:

Four years ago, right at the beginning of the recession, I left “corporate” America and started my own company. I reached the top of my profession before I was 40 and was publisher of a magazine group. Throughout my career, I always thought that once I was “at the top” I could do it my way. What I found was that in the corporate world, you’re never at the top and there is always someone else to report to.

There was a saying that it takes two years to get your business profitable. Well, in this economic environment, you have to add more time to it. I had a budget for the first two years, but by the end of it, my business was not to a point where it would support me without a side job. I had to take a job on the weekend doing promotions at events. I had to take gigs with companies and people I did not like or want to work with. It was at that time that I told myself that I had to remember the garbage I had to do because that would make me appreciate when my business grew and I didn’t need to do the crap side jobs.

In that time, I also realized that since the market changed, I would have to change my business model. I started out just offering marketing services to small businesses. Well, in a tight economy, the first thing small businesses cut is their marketing, even when they know it’s a bad idea. I added a sales component to my business and then it worked. Now, I don’t need the side jobs and my business is going really well. And now when I have rough weeks, I always get through them by remembering the “fun” side jobs I used to have to do.”

Though most of these people still didn’t regret getting away from the rigid corporate structure, they did miss a recurring paycheck and the security it brought with it. Marty Metro, the Founder and CEO of UsedCardboardBoxes.com, said when he left his post as Vice President of an international IT consulting firm to start his own eco-friendly company things did not go smoothly. “After 3 years, that company went under and left me with $300,000 in personal debt. It was devastating.” But in less than a year he raised enough capital to launch his company.

Mike Scanlin, a former venture capitalist and founder of an investment tool business called Born To Sell, said the transition was tough when he quit his job in 2008. “No paycheck for two years is really a killer. Our vacations changed from nice hotel in Tahiti to a B&B we could drive to. There have definitely been sacrifices.”

Shari McGuire, who now runs shrinkyourworkweek.com, said she went back to a new corporate job after her business failed. She is now building a new business while she works full time. “The lifeline of money coming in has been a great relief and it’s a security blanket while I build my new business of helping other people take back their lives and stop working so much, which I believe I never would have created had it not been for the rough ride this past year and a half.”

Dreams are nice, but they are not security blankets. There are a lot of factors to think about when starting your business. In many cases, you are making a huge gamble that will ultimately tear into your financial savings. Startups require blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of cash. If it is your dream you may eventually be able to make it happen, but you may fail several times. You may be pursuing your dream, but are you willing to sacrifice your financial security and possibly sanity?

Photo: Tom Wang/Shutterstock.com

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