Venture redux: Starting your own company helps your career

People quit the corporate grind to start their own companies for a lot of reasons.

Positioning themselves to re-enter the grind is not one of them.

Maybe it should be.

A Berkeley researcher, Gustavo Manso, has found that the entrepreneurial experience of “experimenting with new ideas”adds so much value to your management abilities that even if your venture fails, you are likely to move back to a corporate job with minimal losses. In fact, he found that a stretch of self-employment can actually boost your salary if you go back to traditional employment.

That is…if you bail on a failed venture within two years.

This validates part of the premise of my 2012 book, The Career Lattice, in which I position self-employment as one career lane, not as a one-way ticket out of the corporate world.

The key implication for entrepreneurs is to see their experiences – wins, losses and draws – as evidence of learning new leadership and business skills. Developing short stories and anecdotes about your adventures in startup land are key to developing relationships with partners, suppliers, lenders, and customers, anyway. With potential employers added to the mix, you’ve got one more reason to cultivate a variety of narratives about how you’ve become better at what you do and how you think by being a business owner.

Take This Firm and Change It

Women account for 51% of employees at public accounting firms but only 19% of partners.


That’s just sad.

And that’s why the Accounting MOVE Project exists: to quantify the programs and cultures that actually do retain and advance women. When women stay, so do clients. That makes firms grow and makes partners happy. It even means that some partners can retire. And that makes them very happy indeed.

When women can achieve the career goals they had envisioned when they entered accounting, their investment in themselves pays off.

But CPA firms are, as you might suspect, slow to change. The 2013 Accounting MOVE Project report will be published in summary form first in Public Accounting Report in early May, then in full here at this very website. Meanwhile, here’s an advance peek at some of the results.

What do women want? Change! What kind of change? This kind of change:

  1. Neutralize work-life conflicts.
  2. Amplify the authority and efficacy of women role models.
  3. Build out programs that equip women with business development skills.
  4. Evolve firm culture to remove subtle barriers.
  5. Communicate opportunities and career paths more consistently and clearly.

For more, read the whole press release, Women Accountants Tell Profession Leadership .

Has Anyone Heard of You?

Don’t believe your mother: Your work doesn’t speak for itself. Cultivating your reputation depends on one thing: what others think. Here are three ways to juice word-of-mouth:

  • Support others’ reputations on social media. Like them and they’ll like you back. Can you cash ‘likes’ at the bank? No. But people are more likely to do business with folks they know, and when your positive reputation precedes you, that’s one less obstacle to building rapport.
  • Comment on others’ blogs and on articles at well-read publications in your industry and in your profession. Then you can post links to the original work as well as your comment. You’ve affiliated with someone whose point of view you admire. That reflects well on you.
  • Be responsive to journalists, even when you are starting with stories that have local reach. Journalists mine each others’ work for leads. Don’t underestimate the value of building local relationships.

Get started with your media outreach strategy with the tips in this Use the News article that just ran in American Building Today. See that? You’re more interested in reading more because you’re wondering what American Building Today ‘liked’ enough to publish. That’s how it’s done!