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Entrepreneur

Self-Employment – Beyond Virtual Reality

By Tom Irmen

Several years ago I attended a luncheon that featured a retired Air Force General who shared with us his decades-long military career. What I remember most about his experience was how he invested years of personal effort positioning himself for a much coveted career within the Pentagon. He went on to discuss his disillusionment with his newfound Pentagon position, where he had once hoped to be able to make a genuine and lasting contribution. He suggested that if a totally dedicated individual invested their entire career at the Pentagon, working 24/7, their contribution would likely go unnoticed.

I think this general’s observations may also accurately describe how many professionals who have worked in the nation’s largest corporations must feel about their careers, a feeling that despite devoting one’s entire energy to a cause, that very few substantive changes resulted. I believe this common sense of frustration frequently serves as a catalyst for those individuals departing the corporate world and instead pursuing careers in the world of small business.

One advantage resulting from a self-employment career, although it can also be frustrating at times, is that our responsibilities range from those of a CEO to those of building maintenance. Regardless, self-employeds are treated to a front row seat for most every decision they make, unlike their large corporate counterparts. 

Leading a small business is an incredible learning experience that includes a great many moving parts, requiring that you wear a multitude of hats, including management, marketing, finance, legal, production, and a host of others. The experience can be exhilarating for most and perhaps a bit overwhelming for others. You are afforded an opportunity to see the “big picture” rather than the limited view offered in a larger corporate environment.


Small business owners typically make important decisions in far less time then would have been possible in the corporate world, allowing them to take greater advantage of opportunities in a more timely manner when the greatest upside potential for success exists. True, we don’t have many of the other perks offered by the major corporations, but self-employment offers you a front row seat to where the real action is and places you squarely on the competitive playing field – an experience that those in the corporate world can only fantasize about. Self-employment offers you a level of reality that simply doesn’t exist in today’s corporate realm.

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