I’m not the big boss any more


I was contacted by a client, a former director of a multinational corporation, who had decided to start his own business. As a familiar face in his field, he wanted to inform the press that he was making a career change and that his work would take him in a new direction.  

We discussed how best to present his fledgling venture to the media and what to actually say. The client was faced with several dilemmas. While he knew that the right marketing could attract customers and get the business off to a good start, he was also plagued by doubts: "What if it flops and I become a laughing stock?"

Plus there was the fact that the business was at a stage where certain information was still confidential and formalities were awaiting completion, contracts with the first clients had yet to be signed, etc. But on the other hand, these customers were major players in the market and mentioning their names would serve as an excellent endorsement for a company that was just starting out. How should we handle this?

These are issues that many new entrepreneurs seem to grapple with. There was an unexpected hitch for the client, however, when we were discussing what position to put next to his name in the press release. Over the years, he had become accustomed to being "Mr XY, CEO of the major corporation ABC"; now he was plain "Mr XY from an obscure private limited company".

How does it feel to strike out on your own and lose the anchor of a high-profile global name that throws open one door after another? My client decided to dive in head first rather than hang back in a corner and wait to see how the situation unfolded. We prepared a briefing on the new company and how it targets a specific market segment that major corporations are unable to serve, and I scheduled meetings with journalists.

We worked through a list of questions the media might ask, including how to answer them. We held a coaching session to allay any latent fears about "what if". So it was a confident entrepreneur who appeared for media interviews and eagerly talked about his plans and the business he had launched.

I am delighted to see Mr XY tapping into his deep market knowledge and compelling and interesting topics to carve a way among key industry media. I wish him the best of luck in making his company a household name before long.