Look before you leap, before you learn the hard way

If the fifth South African Employment report by economist Mike Schussler, is a window on the future, self employment is going to boom. Since 2002, self employment has leaped from one in seven to one in six South Africans.

While self employment is a tempting route, there are many talented individuals that went bankrupt chasing their dreams. I find individuals underestimate the transition from being a full time paid employee who fills a position on the organogram to being a business owner who has to build their position in a relentless market. Being a successful employee with technical expertise does not automatically lead to success in business. The rigours of your own business require wider appreciation of strategic and operational matters. Technical expertise is only a piece of the puzzle, not the completed picture.

You can swing the pendulum in your favour with a dual track of high performance on the job and preparation for your business. By focusing on high performance, you will rapidly develop your human capital and value proposition. Preparation for your business includes market research, acquiring business competencies and career/financial alignment. It is never a licence to misuse company resources, violate restraint of trade clauses or steal intellectual property. When you are consistently on the high performance curve and reasonably prepared for self employment, handing in that resignation letter could be the best career move.

(Star Workplace, May 2007)

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