Job Hunting

For Most, It’s Just a Dream: Being Your Own Boss

Survey suggests that most executives wouldn't make the jump, even if they were financially able.
Stephen TaubSeptember 18, 2007

Ever fantasized about telling an overbearing boss to take a hike, and starting your own business? According to a new survey, most executives concede that when push comes to shove, daydreaming about such a life-changing decision is likely to remain just that.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents to the nationwide poll, developed by Robert Half Management Resources, said they felt the average executive would not choose to be self-employed if he or she had the necessary startup capital. Indeed, the survey suggested that just 32 percent of executives would actually choose to go out on their own if they could afford such a move.

In a similar Robert Half survey 10 years ago, a slightly larger group of senior managers — 38 percent — felt that executives would turn to self-employment if able.

The latest survey was based on interviews with 150 senior executives, including those from finance, human resources, and marketing departments at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies. Robert Half Management Resources is a provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis.

“Some executives may see more opportunity — and security — in their corporate roles than in venturing out on their own,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “The failure of a sizable number of startups earlier in the decade left many senior managers wary of the risks associated with self-employment.”

McDonald pointed out that for professionals with an independent spirit, “the challenge and flexibility of entrepreneurship can outweigh the uncertainty, but it takes discipline and a commitment to being both a visionary and a pragmatist.”

On the other hand, he said, going the consulting route is much less risky.