I have lived life like that classic Carole King song, “I’ve looked at life from both sides now.”
I’ve worked for Fortune 500 companies, and I’ve also started my own small business. I’ve licked envelopes, and I’ve written branding strategies for the biggest brands on the planet. I’ve answered the phones, every day, and I’ve answered to the big boss.
I’ve been in both small and big business, and a few medium ones in between.
I’ve looked at life from both sides now.
Related: The Confession of an Entrepreneur
I started my career at Johnson & Johnson in classic brand management working on Johnson’s Baby Products. It doesn’t get bigger than that, at least not at the time. I cashed in my big corporation chips to start my own agency, and now I’m back at the world’s largest holding company of agencies.
People ask me all the time, “What do you prefer, Jim, being in big business or being an entrepreneur?”
I honestly don’t think I can answer that question, because I don’t know that I see much of a distinction when all is said and done. I’ve been the same exact person in both scenarios. I’m no different running a 20-person shop as I am many multiples of that.
I’m still the same.
I’m an entrepreneur. I am proudly an entrepreneur!
Even when I was 25 years old at Johnson & Johnson, I was finding ways to do things differently. I quickly became a bit of a new products guru at the company, launching seven new products in five years. You have to be an entrepreneur to launch a new product, no matter where you work. Even if you are at the most conservative of companies.
My desire “to do it myself” led me to starting my own agency -- but I never felt like we were small.
We had huge clients like Johnson & Johnson, American Express and Kraft. We thought big, even though we were all basically housed in one room. We were designing the first websites for brands back in the day, and we pushed many of our clients into the digital world. We were cutting our digital teeth right along side the big guys. Even better than the big guys, IMHO.
We were entrepreneurs, but we acted like big business people. Because business is business, and the stakes are always big.
So here I am now at a top global communications agency, among the biggest in the world. I travel across the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Asia. The work is huge and perhaps the most challenging of my career. I’ve come full circle -- and I’m very aware of that.
But at the end of the day, I’m still an entrepreneur. I don’t like a lot of structure, and I resist politics with all my might. I hate politics. Always have. From day one.
At the end of the day, I’m an entrepreneur. I look at business life through a unique lens, and I don’t operate within a big conglomerate.
I am a decision maker and a risk taker, no matter the scenario.
I make my own way, which is what an entrepreneur says or does, because that’s what makes an entrepreneur!