In The Elephant and the Flea, British social philosopher and business commentator Charles Handy describes his decision to go out on his own. He notes that after deciding “I shall just be Charles Handy . . . it took me some time to be proud of the fact that at conferences and the like I had no institutional affiliation attached to my name. It felt naked.” Handy had spent 10 years working at the Royal Dutch/Shell Group and then 4 years as the prestigious Warden of St. George’s Houses, a conference and study center located in Windsor Castle. He eloquently describes the sudden, jarring experience associated with going-it-alone: “The problem comes . . . when you have to define yourself without the corporate prop. We had many friends when we lived and worked in Windsor Castle and many invitations to glamorous social events, invitations that mysteriously evaporated after we left.”
The sudden adjustment from working in a large corporation to operating a solo start-up can be wrenching. Here are some guidelines if, in fact, you are contemplating or are already amid this transition:
- Know that nothing happens unless you make it happen. In an established entity, things happen. You have responsibilities. But when you begin a go-it-alone initiative, an infrastructure with resulting activities exists only after you have created it.