Do it for yourself

Do it for yourself

Have you ever wondered why you don't fit in at the office? Or why you have to work for a boss who knows less than you do, but some how gets the attention of senior management? Or maybe you have a really hot idea for the company to try out - but everyone is either too conservative, or too busy to care. Or maybe as a foreigner, female, or young person, you've hit a glass ceiling and have been told by management that you can't expect further promotion "for a while".

If you fit any of these categories, then life is telling you that maybe you should stop being a salary person and instead start working for yourself!

The problem of course, is that although it's all very well wanting to chuck in a stressful or boring job, the idea of starting your own business is quite scary - especially if you're not Japanese. How much would it cost? How long will it take for money to start coming in? How do I handle my visa situation if I'm self-employed? How do I find clients? These and many other questions are typical for new entrepreneurs.

The good news (at least I hope you think it's good news) is that with the help of my Japan Inc. business, I am running a series of seminars on how to start and run small companies here in Japan. The seminars are called the Entrepreneur's Handbook series, and basically consist of a very intense brain dump by yours truly, followed by a Q&A session covering your plans and concerns.

The next seminar will be held in Osaka this Friday - sorry for the short notice - at 09:30am, at the AA Hall in Awajicho. You can get more information on this at

Over 140 people have taken the seminars over the last 2 years, and of these, I would guess that about 20 have gone on to start companies. I guess that I probably scared the others into either delaying or postponing their forays into self-employment, but at least they got off the fence.

You'll notice that the one reason I didn't list at the top of this column as a motive for forming a business was money. In actual fact, this is the most common reason people form companies. However, when you're two years into a business and you're having cash flow problems, and your credit card is maxed out, the lust for money only is soon lost unless you have a deeper conviction or dream. Indeed, in 90% of the cases of new businesses, for the first 3-5 years you can make a lot more money being an employee for someone else.

Companies and the amount of returns you can get from them generally start to become worthwhile after the initial 3-5 year period. Yes, it's a long time to wait, but the rewards can be in the millions of dollars and are quite achievable. I've written over the years about various friends who were ordinary salary people, then one day decided to go into business and are now multimillionaires. Foreigner or Japanese, the opportunities are there if you want them.