Monday, March 30, 2009

Part XI – Corporate vs Entrepreneur

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself before you consider taking the plunge to become an entrepreneur.

Having done exceptionally well in the corporate world, does that automatically qualify you for success? Are you able to live with the trait offs? Do you have the courage to set it up and then hang on in there against all adversities? 

Are you a visionary? Do you seek solutions rather than worry about the challenges? Are you committed to see it through and work hard even in tough times? Do you know where to start and who to turn to for help? Do you have a plan all mapped out to help you stay focused on what the next logical steps will be?

All these questions should give you some food for thought! We will take a look at other start up stories before I continue to share my own. So lets hear it from the field and leave us with your comments!

There is a great German saying for people who are self-employed: Translated it is ‘selbststaendig’ also understood as ‘staendig selbst’, which means ‘constantly, by oneself’!

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Part X – Growth Is Challenging

Working for a small family run business certainly had a completely different feel than being part of a multi national, large organization. Decisions can be made quicker and the ability to react to change is much faster. Certainly the dynamics of a small company seem to be more adaptable and vibrant. 

The individual employee really matters to the contributions in terms of skill set and expertise as well as any deals closed. You become part of a close knit team where everyone’s effort counts every day.

Another great aspect of working for a smaller concern is that your vote counts whilst your strategy and vision can make a real difference as long as it fits with the overall company plan.

I loved working for the software house! It was very cutting edge with a whole bunch of opportunities to expand and grow. This was certainly recognized by capital investors in London and once the company had raised vast amounts of money, it exploded with new members of staff, marketing events, PR activities as well as new layers of middle management to cope with all the new arrivals. 

A new operation in Chicago was set up and whilst all of this created huge excitement making for an amazing sales pitch to my key accounts, it also meant that lots had changed at a dizzying speed. In this situation communication is the most important factor to make sure, everyone is still on board and is up to date with all the changes. 

My role became a key component to the sustainable growth strategy and I was therefore very much under pressure to deliver significant results. So I was back in the same position as I had been in my previous company. Lots of traveling, participation at major trade events and my own targets ensured that I was working flat out. In addition due to the major expansion there was some pretty significant internal competition among staff to carve out their own positions - a tough environment if you are seeking the work/ life balance to reconcile your families happiness!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Part IX – Success to Follow

Family life is a wonderful thing as long as everything is working smoothly, the financials are not a worry, everyone is healthy, mum and dad get a lot of quality time together, jobs are good, the children behave well, the in-laws are good friends, living accommodation is acceptable, the relationship with the spouse is just right.  Can you see where this is leading?

Exactly, this is not life! This is an ideal set up that most of us strive to achieve and no doubt do we have many things in place that are just the way we want them to be. However it is the other things that throw us off track, make us grumpy and stressed and in turn, cause trouble with the people around us.

If I have learned anything in my time than it is that everything comes with a compromise. In our personal and professional lives we have to be prepared to accept the challenges that come with every opportunity. 

In my position as Sales & Marketing Manager for 3 countries in the previous company, I had been working for, I enjoyed financial freedom, a certain status within the company and among colleagues whilst reaching professional development goals. The downside was the divide it caused in my family.

Now, in the new position as Partner Manager, I had to start from scratch. The technology, the company had developed was in depth and new. Really something to get your head around. New colleagues to gel with, management to impress, new relationships to build with key stakeholders internally as well as externally and a much longer and more complex sales cycle.

Still working everyday and with the added stresses outlined above, it took some time before I could settle down a little better into the new job and in turn be more chilled at home.

So, finally! Surely now was the time to kick back and enjoy work and family.

I had left behind the flat out stress from the previous company and could now start over. Well lets just say, you can take the woman out of a company but you can't take the company out of a woman! Meaning that history started to repeat itself far too quickly.....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Part VIII – A New Beginning

With new priorities clearly set for our family, it was time for me to consider other options within my career. The most logical step was to look for a more local position in a new company.

I started to spread the word among my network and it was not long until I had a phone call from a head hunting company for a Partner Manager position in a software company based in Bristol, UK. The job description suited me down to the ground with an emphasis on major key account acquisition and management. I was responsible for creating new sales channels by partnering with IBM, Hewlett Packard, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Equifax.

The software, the company had designed, was a powerful data mining tool for Customer Relationship Management applications. Build on lasting partnership agreements; I was further trained in Miller Heiman techniques specifically designed for large and complex decision making processes within giant companies.

As employee number sixteen, I was working very closely with our management team to implement company strategies and I had an insight into the mechanics of running a business that was gearing up for a major venture capital investment. When the company finally floated, it had raised $74.000.000!

My personal life had settled back into a more manageable routine. Because I started very early in the morning, I was home at 5pm every afternoon which meant plenty of quality time for our family. Quickly the turbulences of the past had been forgotten about and we were looking into a much brighter and happier future….

Monday, March 2, 2009

Part VII – Crunch Time

There are couples that stay together for all sorts of reasons other than undying love; some because of their children, others because of financial implications and many because they don’t want to be alone.

In our case we decided that following many attempts to mend the relationship, the only way to move forward was by separating! Not many people could understand how we could give up on each other so easily but really what we saw was that we were young and not prepared to just make do with something that wasn’t working anymore.

This was really a tough time for all of us, emotionally as well as financially. However we knew this was the only way to determine our priorities and what was really important to us. The minute our separation appeared to be final, something wonderful happened! We took notice of one another again and re-evaluated where our hearts truly lay. Now that we put some objectivity into our discussions, we could clearly see where things went wrong.

We started ‘dating’ again and within two months had moved back into the family home together! How wonderful!

From now on things were going to drastically change around here…..