If you don’t have a plan for yourself…

you’ll be a part of someone else’s.” 
Which is a saying that one of my network contacts shared with me recently. Over the years, I’ve heard quite a few quotes regarding planning and setting goals, but for some reason, I’d never heard this one before. Which caused me to think, has my life plan always worked for me? No, not always, but these zig-zags through life have made me a stronger, more focused person.  
When I graduated from college, my original thought was to gain a few years of management experience at a large corporation then venture off on my own. My parents always encouraged me to start my own business and many Filipinos are entrepreneurial as part of the culture. But somehow life got in the way. I received fast promotions, switched industries to ride the wave of fast growth in the pharmaceutical industry, then was quickly promoted through sales management. This all came to an end in December 2006, which was the start of a series of layoffs at the company. 
Because Ann Marie and I had planned and carefully saved over the years, we were able to explore different career options from there. I knew that I wanted a different experience, and while I have not discounted returning to Corporate America, I am taking this time in my life to be an entrepreneur. 
After Pfizer, I tried consulting, which did not work out, then working for another small company. I find myself working as a husband-and-wife team with Ann Marie. We both fit a demographic for the entrepreneurs, according to a recent survey from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which surveyed 549 company founders in various industries. Entrepreneurs are typically educated and experienced and come from the existing work force, not college. About 70 percent were married when they became entrepreneurs. Here are other findings from the article (courtesy of McClatchy News Service):
  • More than 90 percent are from middle-class or upper-lower-class backgrounds

  • More than half are the first in their family to start a business

  • Ninety-five percent have a bachelor’s degree, and 47 percent have advanced degrees.

  • Forty is the average age when they start their first company

  • They are more likely to have worked for an employer for more than six years before starting their own business

  • Their main motivations are building wealth and capitalizing on an idea.

  • Ninety-eight percent said a lack of willingness or ability to take risks is the biggest barrier to success, followed by time and effort required (93 percent), difficulty raising capital (91 percent), business management skills (89 percent), knowledge about how to start a business (84 percent), industry and market knowledge (83 percent) and family/financial pressures to keep a steady job (73 percent).

Ann Marie and I did not originally plan to open an integrated communications firm, but we did plan to have a business together. Fortunately, we had the foresight to be frugal with our expenses and save a nest egg to be able to build a company without the financial pressures that perhaps other entrepreneurs feel. We occupy a unique niche in the market with our communications firm and find that there are few other husband-and-wife teams who actively blog about their experiences building a company.
So, now I have the opportunity to develop a new plan for my career, with the benefit of all the experiences that I have had in life so far, because it is never too late to start!