Guest Post: The Big Brand Trap Or How to Take Your Skills With You


Today's guest post is from transition coach Catherine Morgan.  What Catherine describes is exactly what happened to me when I left IBM after 10 years.  I wish I would have read this 20 years ago!

"Let’s imagine that you have been working for a big company with an established and respected brand.  You feel great about calling on prospects because the big brand pretty much guarantees that you will get on someone’s calendar.  But what happens when you leave the big company and go out on your own?

Many entrepreneurs have issues around selling but I have coached people who were business development superstars at their previous employer and now when they are pitching themselves or their small business, they suddenly feel insignificant, invisible, or unworthy.  This is a place where entrepreneurs get stuck all the time.  I have to remind clients that their skills are *their skills* and they still have value without the backing of the big brand.

Yes, it may be harder to get appointments but remember that the skills and experience that made you successful at your last company are still part of you and will hopefully enable you to be successful in your current business.  And don’t think that just because you are a solopreneur or small business you don’t provide valuable services.  Being small can enable you to be more competitive and serve your customers more efficiently and effectively.

I recommend new small business owners create some “props” when starting out to get through this block.  Consider investing in the following:

· Professionally designed logo.  This does not have to be expensive.  I was well aware of the logo/worthiness block when I started my current business so I had a logo designed and I am thrilled to present it to prospects and potential partners.  It makes me feel like I have a “real” business.  Money well spent!

· Quality business cards printed on good paper.  This can be a big psychological boost.  Feeling great about the card you are presenting makes you more confident during your pitch.

· Clean website or blog.  This doesn’t have to be big or fancy and I highly recommend not spending a ton of money on this up front.  Your business will change substantially once you get out and test with clients.

· Registered legal entity.  I started my business a year ago.  While I had always done business as a sole proprietor in the past, this time I registered my company and it does make me take my business more seriously.

When you are confident in your skills and invest in your business, prospects will notice.  They will notice that you are a professional and they will want to invest in your business – and isn’t that the goal?

Have you ever felt like your skills belonged to your former company?  How did you get past that?  What other “props” would you recommend?"

Catherine Morgan is a Transition and Entrepreneur Coach, and the founder of Point A to Point B Transitions Inc.  The company is a virtual provider of coaching services and info products to individuals who are in career transition or are looking to establish and grow their own successful services businesses.

By | May 23rd, 2011|Business|14 Comments

About the Author:

Barry Moltz gets business owners unstuck by unlocking their long forgotten potential. With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures, he has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners and increasing their sales. Barry has founded and run small businesses with a great deal of success and failure for more than 20 years. After successfully selling his last operating business, Barry founded an angel investor group, an angel fund, and is a former advisory member of the board of the Angel Capital Education Foundation. His first book, “You Need to Be A Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business” describes the ups and downs and emotional trials of running a business. His second book, “Bounce! Failure, Resiliency and the Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success”, shows what it takes to come back and develop true business confidence. His third book, “BAM! Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World” shows how customer service is the new marketing. His fourth book, “Small Town Rules: How Small Business and Big Brands can Profit in a Connected Economy” shows how when every customer can talk to every other customer, it’s like living in a small town: Your reputation is everything! His fifth book, “How to Get Unstuck: 25 Ways to Get Your Business Growing Again” helps every small business owners move their company to the next level. Barry is a nationally recognized speaker on small business who has given hundreds of presentations to audiences ranging in size from 20 to 20,000. As a member of the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, he has appeared on many TV and radio programs such as CNBC’s The Big Idea, and MSNBC’s Your Business. He hosts his own radio show on AM560, and writes for American Express and Forbes.


  1. Sondra Wright May 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Bravo Catherine!!  Well done. When I left Corporate America to build my own business it required a tremendous mindset shift. I had to transform myself first, which meant recognizing that what I had to offer was valuable and would make a difference and I was obligated to share it with the world. My business could not grow until I first grew the courage, the confidence and the wisdom to move forward. My most valuable "prop" was learning how to ask for help. Because no one has to go this journey alone.

  2. Diane Dolinsky-Pickar May 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Catherine, bravo to you for presenting such clear and concise guidelines to feeling confident and coming off polished! Well thought-out directive to invest in sales collateral that is top-notch, an online presence that leaves a positive impression…. and the thing that I have mostly ignored, and will take to heart: a good legal set-up. I would extend this point by suggesting an excellent digital profile nowadays needs to include a presence on social media sites, if that is appropriate to your product/service. Again, excellent advice!

  3. Catherine Morgan May 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    These are all so great! Unfortunately this comment software doesn't allow me to respond directly to the comment so here goes:
    @Sondra – Courage and confidence are so important as entrepreneurs. And thank you for bringing up asking for help. That is a big one. Trying to maintain a beginner's mind realizing that you don't know everything can be very useful. It is important to surround yourself with people who can support you and who you can learn from.
    @Diane – I agree with you completely about having a social media presence. It is critical for an entrepreneur. Why wouldn't you take advantage of something that can promote your business and is free? Recommend people start small and show up consistently and professionally.
    @Susan – Thanks for sharing that resource. I have heard good things about it but never tried it. 

    • Val Bambach January 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm

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  4. Lauren Trecosta May 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Great tips and encouragement, Catherine.  Thanks.

  5. Marianne Thorne May 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

    This is great advice Catherine, and also applies to people re-entering the workforce, after an illness or a few years full-time parenting, as self-employed.

    May I add another thought; that we allow time to re-build or establish our self-esteem. Sometimes it does take longer to get up and running, yet persistence pays!  And acting confidently, eventually has us feeling confident 🙂

  6. Barry May 24, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Thanks for all the comments- In them, I see my past life flash before my eyes. Wish I had this advice years ago!

  7. Catherine Morgan May 24, 2011 at 9:15 am

    @Marianne – Oh that is so good. Thank you for adding that. It *does* take time to rebuild our self-esteem from being out of the workforce, getting laid off, or whatever. Whether going back to corporate or starting a business, it does take time to get our mojo back. We need to plan for that.

  8. Michelle Damico May 25, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Catherine, these are great and helpful words of wisdom. You are so right. If you had the skills to represent the big brand name, those skills don't disappear when you walk out the door. The biggest challenge is reminding ourselves every day that we have the expertise to provide brand name service — this time, it's our own brand! 

  9. Catherine Morgan May 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

    @Michelle – "It's our own brand and we need to own it" might be a great mantra for all entrepreneurs. Thanks for that comment, Michelle!

    • Brittni Rochelle January 30, 2012 at 5:38 am

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  10. Ryan Lee June 2, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    You hit the nail square on the head and drove it all the way in!  This is simple, but great advice to help people make the proper "mind shift" when striking out on their own.  Many props!

  11. Catherine Morgan June 3, 2011 at 8:41 am

    @Ryan – Thank you. As I have been thinking about this post since writing it, I have realized that my "props" have been incredibly important for me and the way I have felt about my business over the past year. Add in ones demonstrating thought leadership and you are good to go!

  12. […] corporations with established global brands have an additional layer of blocks, which I discuss in The Big Brand Trap Or How To Take Your Skills With You (Please check out this guest post on for quick and easy ways to feel like you have a […]

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