It really depends on the circle but there is usually a negative stigma associated with working for someone… not owning your destiny… “working for the man.” I think it mainly comes from the start-up scene, for understandable reasons, but it still exists. It may also be the websites I frequent or the articles I choose to read but the startup mentality is usually seen as sexier… more appealing because of the risk involved with owning a business. Again, completely understandable. I was a co-owner of a business for five years out of college and it was definitely a love, hate relationship.

I loved the attention given to the young, scrappy small business owner. I hated the unhealthy stress. Many of the experiences… both positive and negative… was due to my age and lack of experience but they were still experiences and they shaped my personality. Frankly, I learned a lot and moved on.

My two year anniversary at ExactTarget was yesterday and it has been (is) quite the ride. Over the course of two years I have witnessed or been involved in :

  • Launching multiple research reports for retail, US, Germany, France, Australia, UK, and Canada
  • I’ve given over 80 presentations on marketing and digital trends in seven countries
  • ExactTarget purchased two companies in late 2012 (iGoDigital & Pardot)
  • Started the content marketing team in October 2012
  • The company went public in early 2013
  • We were sold to Salesforce in July 2013

It has been an extremely rewarding experience and I’ve learned a couple of things along the way. Is owning a small business sexier? Maybe. Is it easier than working for the man? No. 

It Isn’t Easy. It might just be a stereotype but I believe many think working in “corporate America” is easier than owning and running a start-up… it’s simply not true. It’s a different kind of hard. Successful individual (no matter the job) work themselves to the bone. Whether you are dealing with payroll or managing research in six countries, it is still stressful.

Measurement is Everything. I’ve learned over the past two years that testing and measurement IS the most important thing to success in any business. Blindly marketing without understanding what has happened in the past is completely and utterly stupid. Take a note from the David Walmsley playbook:

“We must move from numbers keeping score to numbers that drive better actions.”

Better actions mean that you are being responsible with numbers. Is it easy? No. Does it make you better? Yes.

Ideas are Dangerous Without Planning. Big ideas are what change businesses for the good or the bad. You can have the biggest and coolest idea in the entire world but if you don’t plan… it will ultimately fail or be a shadow of its’ former self.

Quality is more valuable than speed. Speed to market is an extremely important success metric. However, in a world where instant gratification through the Internet (mainly social media) is becoming more of a problem… slowing down… taking a breath… can be a good thing. Do you need to be first to market with an inbound marketing deliverable? No. Do you need to create the best deliverable in both content and design? Yes.

Money Usually Isn’t the Real Issue. In my past life… I blamed many of the problems with owning a small business to the lack of money. However… having experiences on both sides of the equation (and failing multiple times) I’ve found that problems are usually associated with:

  • You haven’t surrounded yourself with the right people to be successful
  • Organization and time management are infinitely more important than the budget
  • Over-promising and under delivering lead to failure

I’m not sure I captured everything I wanted to say in this post. But I know one thing… your job should be about what makes you happy and fulfilled. The experiences are what successfully propel you through life… so whatever your job… make sure you are changing and experiencing… constantly.

Oh yes… and when I say “working for the man”… I really do mean THE MAN (both men and women alike). The leaders at the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud are the best at what they do.