Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

4 out of 10 employees do not feel their work provides them
with a strong feeling of personal accomplishment.


Many employees look back on their many years of service to organizations and say to themselves, "I don't really have anything to show for it." They lack a strong sense of personal accomplishment.

They feel trapped in their jobs, but don't want a different job. What they really would love is to abandon the shackles of organizational life and go out on their own. They fantasize about starting their own business or consulting firm. But they're scared. They are terrified of taking a risk by leaving the security of their job.

Many rationalize that they will make the leap once their kids are out of college, their mortgage is paid off, or once they have saved enough money. They spend their idle time merely dreaming about what could have been.

This strong desire that many employees have to strike out on their own is also a problem for their organizations. These employees possess valuable untapped energy. Instead of providing the organization with creativity and enthusiasm, these employees become a drain on the energy of others.



Here are a few suggestions for beginning the process of turning the fantasy of running your own business into a reality.

  1. Make Certain You Have the Basics

    If you are going to start a business, there are 3 essential prerequisites for success.

    • You must really know that there is a need for your product or service;

    • You must know that you can meet that need; and

    • You must have a strong passion for meeting that need.

  2. Do Your Detective Work

    Open your eyes. The best source of information is not the web or some government information office, it's other people confronted with the same decision you're facing. Consider attending the meetings of a professional association where you will find many people who were once in your situation. While you are still employed, talk to as many people as possible who have started the type of business you're planning. (If they might consider you a competitor, talk to people out of state.) Ask them things like:

    • How did you get started?

    • If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

    • What do you like about your business? What do you dislike?

    • How much did you need in the bank to feel comfortable starting your business?

    • How much revenue is possible?

  3. Phase Into It

    Instead of jumping from your current job to your own business immediately, consider intermediary steps like learning the business from someone else. For example, if you want to be a management consultant, work for a consulting firm. There you will learn how to market, sell, write proposals, and set fees. Armed with this knowledge, you will be in a position to eventually go out on your own.

  4. Just Do It

    Life is short. Once you've laid the groundwork, take the plunge. There is no time like the present. Give notice. Then plant a stake in the ground by sending an announcement about your new business to everyone you know.



Here are several ways that organizations can harness the entrepreneurial spirit of employees and provide them with a strong sense of accomplishment.

  1. Begin an Intrepreneurship Program

    Some organizations establish intrepreneurship programs to provide promising employees with the financial and emotional support they need to launch a new business within the organization. For example, let's say that an enthusiastic chemist in a pharmaceutical lab discovers a promising new compound, but the compound is unrelated to the type of drugs the company currently produces. Instead of risking the employee leaving to start his own business, the company can fund that new business. Or a medical claims specialist working in a small practice, says, "I can bring in more money to the practice by providing these services to others." If the idea makes sense, the practice should fund this new business venture.

    This can be a win-win situation for the employee and the organization. The company keeps the employee from leaving and stands to gain a great deal financially if the new business is successful. The employee stands to profit financially by gaining a strong sense of personal accomplishment.

  2. Allow Employees to Work Part Time

    Instead of losing an employee when they want to start their own business in a different field, offer them the opportunity to work part time. This will provide the employee with a safety net. The organization may not lose much because many employees can actually produce the same amount of work on a part-time basis as they can working full time.


Employees who want to enter the ranks of the self-employed must do their homework first and consider phasing into their business. Organizations that don't want to lose them should consider helping them start a new profit center within the company or offer them part-time employment.

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