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Moving Away From The Corporate Life

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Most of us have an inkling of entrepreneurship in us. It’s whether we act on that inkling that makes us entrepreneurs. Learn what inspired John to abandon his corporate life and start his own (now successful) company.

Cutting Corporate Ties to Cut Hair

Like so many Americans in the early 2000’s, John was a casualty of the “Great Recession.”

Working for a Fortune 100 company, he was doing well. Unfortunately, not well enough to be spared the ax as several rounds of layoffs left him and his former coworkers suddenly out of work and looking for a job for the first time in 15 years.

Rather than wallow in self-pity, John used the opportunity to reflect on his situation. On one hand, he approached his situation realistically and recognized the lack of economic opportunity that existed. He had two decades of experience under his belt. While it might take some time, maybe finding another job made the most sense given the economic situation.

But then John started to really think about his previous job. He had spent the last 15 years making a ton of money for his company. He realized that if he stepped back into a similar role, his future would once again be at the whim of someone else as he put more money into their bank account rather than his own. More than that, the threat of being laid off had always been a possibility and created an incredibly stressful environment at work and in his life. He realized that’s what he wanted to avoid. John vowed he would never again be in a position where his financial situation was in someone else's hands.

Rewind a bit to when John lived in England for a few years during his corporate days. He used to go to an English barber to get a trim. It became part of his routine. His experience in that shop had been special and something he thought back to all the time. People were in the shop reading the London Times, sipping cappuccino; there was local banter because people knew each other. It was a nice place where guys wanted to spend some time, not just some barbershop you were in and out as fast as they could turn customers. Barbershops had gone by the wayside in the US but were making a comeback.  He felt like people would appreciate a similar environment to this English one. So what did he do? He cashed in his 401k, dipped heavily into his savings, and bought a location and the rights to become a part of a franchise of upscale barbershops. So much for finding a less stressful situation!

While he still had food to eat and a roof over his head, John’s financial future now depended heavily on the success of this one shop. But given the choice of going back to the corporate world or making it on his own, John was determined to succeed and propelled by a real necessity to make the franchise work.

Fast-forward five years: John has four franchises around the country and feels like he’s in a position to grow. How does it feel to be at the helm? John says, “It feels good, but there’s also a lot of risk being in the position of controlling my financial future. What is here today could be gone tomorrow.” While that might initially sound like a similar situation to being stressed about a potential lay off, the difference is that the possibility of everything being gone tomorrow is now in John’s hands.

How do you sustain a business? How do you keep your employees happy? How do you keep eyes on all the balls that are up in the air at one time? These are hard, but worthy questions to answer. Of course working for yourself doesn’t mean your life will become stress-free. But as John built his first franchise into a success, bought a second, and then a third, and then a fourth, the stress of financial independence gradually subsided and was replaced with a feeling of empowerment. In addition to financial independence, John thinks back to his barbershop in England. Maybe not for every customer, but for some of his clients he knows he’s created something similar, and that’s an incredible feeling.

 

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