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Edition 357 – Bold Moves

I ran into an old friend recently. He looked better than he’d done for ages. A big smile was on his face. He was as taut and trim as he’d been when he was 15 years younger. It was as if he’d been subject to a complete transformation.

Something was out of place, however. It was the polo shirt he was wearing. It carried the logo of a local family business, not that of the large corporate he’d worked for years for.

It turns out that old mate parted ways with his employer of almost three decades after deciding that life on the corporate treadmill was simply too much. He was unhappy. Politics and personalities became commonplace amongst a business that he’d spent two thirds of his life inside of. His stress levels were through the roof.

His employer had been through a number of changes in recent years, including a stockmarket float. It was at that point the business that he’d been proud to be a part of for such a long time started to change. New layers of management. New procedures. Competing, almost factional interests. Fancy names for new programmes espousing how “we’re all in this together”. It was no longer the same.

In the end, at the back end of his mid 40’s, my old friend decided to embark on his own business venture. You could see in his eyes and in his body language that he was loving his new life. He was beaming.

It’s my experience of spending more than three decades working with small and family business that most people go into business between the ages of 30 and 45. He was at the very top end of this. Interestingly, it’s also my experience that those that break the mould, by being younger than 30 or older than 45, tend to have standout businesses.

My friend is merely the tip of the iceberg. There are two things at play here:

  1. People in their 40’s are making big life decisions about their careers and their livelihoods. Whilst the sentiment hasn’t changed for those looking to take the leap, the age at which it happens has. My assessment is that it has dropped ten years since prior to the pandemic.
  2. People are increasingly fed up with corporate life. They’re over the politics, the inconsistencies between what is said and what is done and the self interest that appears to drive most decision making at the management level.

For small and family businesses, this presents a huge opportunity. There are people looking to escape corporate life everyday. These are the type of people that will bring experience, enthusiasm and a new perspective to what you’re doing in your own business.

Today’s message is to be on the lookout for these people. Whether you think you’ll be looking for new staff in the future or someone who might otherwise add value to your business as a potential supplier/contractor, a friendly conversation and the gift of time may well pay dividends at a later date.

This Week’s Tip

Remember, people don’t leave jobs – they leave bosses.