The Corporate America vs. Entrepreneur Showdown

Posted on September 21, 2012. Filed under: Consulting/Contracting | Tags: , , |

By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

Not too long after the meltdown with unemployment began in the United States, across social media, there was some buzz surrounding the declaration by a well-known Internet marketer that job seekers should just quit the job search and start their own companies instead. The reaction among career support professionals was mixed. Some loved the advice. Others hated it. And many others fell somewhere in between.

As for me, I think it is like so many of these things…it got the reaction it was looking for. In other words, it produced the shock value it needed to get everyone talking about it.

So does that mean I disagree? Not exactly. As a small business owner who left the corporate world to try my own venture (which has thankfully done well), of course I think I made a great decision. But as a job search coach who works with hundreds and hundreds of job seekers each year, I can honestly say that not everyone is suited for being a business owner (much like not everyone is suited for being a lawyer [thank God]). And it is pretty unrealistic to think that will happen. (Not to mention the logical implications of it as well…if we all owned businesses, who would do the leg work…most business owners need support, etc.)

For some job seekers, a layoff, firing, and so on is just the push they need to move forward on that great business idea they have always wanted to try.

And with some startup capital available and a good understanding of their market, they go for it.

But for those job seekers who see starting their own business as just a way out of a bad time for job searching and are looking for that interim thing (see my post titled “Hey, Consultants, You Are Entrepreneurs Too“), the plan could backfire. For one, leaving the corporate world is a big decision. Even though corporate America is grinding, to say the least, being a business owner is probably one of the hardest jobs out there, particularly if you have to start the business from the ground up.

And corporate America does not always value the little guy. So if you want to go back to corporate life a couple years down the road, not everyone is going to welcome you back, happy to see that entrepreneur experience on your resume (many like the entrepreneurial spirit, but most don’t really want renegade entrepreneurs on their “teams”; in other words, act like one, but don’t actually be one!).

Second, to make a business work, you have to really love at the very least some aspect of it or you will fall flat pretty quickly. For me, I love negotiating and dealing with people. My business partner, on the other hand, loves to make it rain. So after she goes in and creates the possibility (often out of thin air), I like to come in and finalize the particulars. It works great now, but it took a long time to figure that out. And it was only drive and determination (and necessity) that made us figure it out.

If we had been in it just to keep us going until we went back to corporate life, it never would have worked.

Still other job seekers out there just want and desire to be part of the corporate rat race. They like support roles. Or they like coming in and learning the structure in place, and figuring out how to maneuver in it. That is where the excitement comes into play for them. They want to see the upward mobility and know the potential. They like being a part of something, a group, team, etc. They don’t want to start it; they want to make it grow or sustain what’s already in place. I’m not sure how these types of people could be expected to be business owners (unless, like me, they had a real rainmaker at their side). And there is nothing wrong with this. These are the people business owners dream about!

So the point is that you really need to know the kind of worker you are.

Finally, even if you are a business owner, truly, you are always working for somebody.

Honestly, I never had so many bosses until I started working for myself. If you need to make cash (and we all do), you need someone to give it to you. And that someone (or someones) becomes your boss, at least for a period of time, so to speak.

So the decision really is whether you have the entrepreneurial temperament combined with a strong business concept, perseverance, and startup funds.

If you don’t, that’s fine…just don’t bother.

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SEO, Social Media, Here We Come…Or Something Like That (Part 1)

Posted on April 2, 2012. Filed under: social media | Tags: , , , , , , , |

by Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)SEO

Social Marketing 101

When we first started out in the career services arena in 2002, our biggest concern was about having a website. Period. Just having one. Just so that we could tell our clients, potential clients, and other contacts that we had one. Like most startups, we didn’t have much of a marketing budget (none really), and we weren’t sure what to do with our website once we had it set up. Essentially, it was just an online business card that we hoped someone (or several someones) would stumble across and fall instantly “in love” with us. So we spent the first 6 years marketing locally, offering the best in service, using our website as a business card (to make us look legit), and praying for referrals.

Twitter, Blogging, and Every Thing in Between

Then in 2008, Twitter happened for us. And before we knew it, we were gaining all these followers on Twitter, launching our first blog, and collecting e-mail addresses left and right. Sounds great, right? The problem: After a full year, we still really had no idea what to do with any of it (other than send out mailing after mailing). Thankfully, our local business had done well, and we were in over our heads trying to manage that volume. And although we did see some return, it didn’t really match up with the time output on our end. [Our office is made up of a whopping two people, after all. :-)]

Marketing sages advised us to hire low-level staff to handle social media for us (aka “tweet” as us or write blogs). It all sounded nice, but we felt our technical clientele deserved better content straight from us, not from someone we hired off the street with no experience and paid low wages.

So what did we do?

Well, in 2009, we went the way of millions of small startups before us, and we abandoned the notion that social marketing was right for us…

Social Media and SEO: It’s Here to Stay

Then in 2011,  we finally realized that we could avoid it no longer. And that is when the biggest education of our lives began to take place: social marketing 101. After almost two years away from it, we got back to what we had left behind. And what we found was yet a whole new ball game. If we thought that social media was time consuming in 2009, it was nothing compared with what we encountered in 2011! But what has come out of that journey has caused us to rethink everything we do as a business and to revamp our client solutions in such a way that causes our clients too to think about social media in a whole new way when it comes to a job search.

This series of posts is meant to be the first in what I hope is a diary of sorts, capturing some of the many twists and turns that our small company has experienced along the bumpy social media/SEO ride, all in an effort to tell the world that we are here, that we offer personal branding services to technical professionals, and that we are determined to do it better than anyone else.

I mean, really, how hard can that be, right?

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it! Or send us a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

The ITtechExec Way

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