Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Avoid being laid off or downsized. Make an entrepreneurial decision today

Tired of what you see and hear at work? Maybe it's time to make your own call.

Tired of what you see and hear at work? Maybe it’s time to make your own call.

A friend of mine told me recently that he had turned down a good job to keep his own business going. “Excellent!” I said, especially since this is Detroit Entrepreneur Week 2014. This made me think of W. Edwards Deming, the father of Total Quality Management, who said: “Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins. No contest.”

You all know that I was laid off or downsized four times early in my career, which totally irked (insert stronger word) me. In all those situations, my termination was because some person above me had either made a bad decision to add my function to the company, or they made many bad decisions that led to cutting staff and me.

After the fourth termination, I vowed to never let it happen again. I began an unrelenting quest for more knowledge, I built my network to the point where I had more contacts than my bosses, and I committed myself to always doing the best possible job in my volunteer work as well as my professional work. These steps helped me become the best professional I could be, while establishing and always growing my network, and building my reputation as a person who gets things done.

Still I was about to be laid off or downsized a fifth time because of an acquisition (and some incompetent person above me in the org chart). So, I started my own firm, finally realizing that the only way I can be sure not to be cut from a payroll is to maintain the payroll.

It is not easy for sure. But, you have control of you. You “own yourself and your career” when you own your own business. My friend told me that he knew he made the correct decision to keep his business but, “it is scary,” he said. I told him that fear is a great motivator.

So, keep this in mind as you build your career and future. If you are in charge of you, you make the decisions, not someone else.

Make an entrepreneurial decision today.

When working hard and being ‘liked’ isn’t enough

I was laid off four times in my career. It was the threat of a fifth firing that made me take ownership of my career once and for all. Which, in turn, led me to start a business.

Many of you can relate to the pain and promise that comes with leaving a job. In my book “The Power of Ownership,” I recount how each time I was let go from a job, I went on to work for someone bigger and better. Someone new to pay me and take care of me.  I thought that if I had a job, did okay, and was liked, that “they” would keep giving me more responsibility and money, enough to retire.

So, that’s how it was for years. With every new job, I worked harder to exceed expectations of my clients and those around me. I kept challenging myself to be better, to be the best, at what I did. My responsibilities grew and I busted my butt to always do better than was expected.

Still, I worked for someone else. They made the decisions about my future, not me. In 1996, I was  the executive vice president at Shandwick-Detroit, formerly Casey Communications. You’d think as some high-ranking VP, my seniority would protect me, like tenure does for a professor. It didn’t. It never does. Like every place before, I was this hard working dude, very successful at my job and I knew I was invaluable to the company. Sure enough, I was not in my employer’s future plans. I decided not to be let go. Not this time, and certainly not a fifth time.

Careful, considerate planning and some well-placed phone calls came into play, as I recount in chapter eleven of the book. I resigned from Shandwick-Detroit, hung out my own shingle, and called it John Bailey & Associates Public Relations. Now my ownership was complete. I owned my career and a business.  Within two years, my new company was larger than the one that was not going to promote me. (Shandwick-Detroit was shut down in 2000. It wasn’t so much vindication as it was validation that I absolutely made the right decision.)

You can see the details of this career-path in my book, The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business (paperback or Kindle). You can learn the things I learned that will help you avoid other people making decisions about your future. Even if people like you and you work hard, you may face being let go or other job circumstances out of your control. Don’t let that happen. Take control of the situation, and ownership of your career and yourself.

Who should read ‘The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business’?

Book publishers offer the same fundamental advice given by the entire public relations industry, which is to know your target audience.

The publishers smartly say, “This way you can market the product much more efficiently.”  As The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business spans my 56-year career, it targets multiple audiences:

  1. people stuck in a career or job and contemplating a move;
  2. anyone who aspires to start a business;
  3. those who want to see how someone else did these things to measure their own progress.

These are the primary “targets,” but there are others who will find the book equally interesting from a historical point of view.

The book follows my career from inception through to my “retirement” in 2012, including:

  • working with three iconic and pioneering public relations agency founders—Beverly Beltaire, Tony Franco and Jack Casey;
  • helping to grow Stroh’s from a small regional brand in 1975 to third largest beer company in the United States in 1985;
  • educating the American public through a nationwide PR campaign to increase safety belt usage from about 10 percent in 1984 to more than 70 percent in 1992;
  • establishing my own company, John Bailey & Associates (JB&A), in 1996;
  • among many client/agency successes, developing and executing a PR campaign to eliminate smoking in most public places throughout Michigan.

I was told at age 57 that I was too old to start a company, but did so anyhow. With the help of many great clients and associates, I grew my company into one of the most respected and largest PR firms in Michigan. This entrepreneurial success lead to me and JB&A being recognized by then-President George W. Bush in a televised 2005 speech.

There are many teachable moments and even humorous anecdotes that happened along the way. But those target audiences mentioned above can judge all that for themselves, and I trust they—readers like you!—will.

The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business’ will be available on Amazon in early June 2013. A growing community of book supporters can be found on Facebook.