Donna Probes: Moving up from employee to owner

Donna Probes

Seeing the movie “Nine to Five” at this year’s Traverse City Film Festival reminded me that I could watch this movie 10 times and laugh just as hard every time.

The antics of Dolly Parton’s character and her renegade crew depict the fantasy of every overworked employee — mutiny against a tyrannical boss. But, underneath the slapstick humor, there is a poignant caricature of the employee who does all the work while someone else gets all the glory — and the big bucks.

Through the sharp lens of hindsight, I realize how much of my career was spent pouring out creative energy that was used to enhance someone else’s bottom line.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is security in being a W-2 employee — lack of risk, a steady paycheck, regularity, routine, etc. And many employers do have the welfare of their employees in mind, as well as an interest in maximizing profitability.

But moving from being an employee to being the owner of a company might be right for you. In the Expressly for Entrepreneurs workshops offered regularly by SCORE, a personal assessment is done to determine if you share the same traits as many successful entrepreneurs.

The index helps you see where you stand in the following areas: Can you integrate left-brain logical thinking skills with right-brain creativity? How comfortable are you being both goal-driven and inventive at the same time? Can you be a visionary person as well as the “get ‘er done” kind of person needed for follow through?

A Sept. 11 SCORE workshop titled From Employee to Owner will feature a panel of individuals who have successfully maneuvered the journey to business ownership. They will talk about what motivated them to leave the security of being an employee to becoming their own boss. For those who are wondering what the journey is like, the panel members will speak frankly about the challenges they faced, the fears they overcame and the ultimate rewards that came from taking a huge leap of faith.

As I talk to many new business owners, a common motivation they often express is: “I want to be compensated with equal proportion to the amount of work and effort I put into the job. As an employee, I could never achieve this. But, as a business owner, the harder I work, the more financial reward I receive.”

So, if you often find yourself overworked, underpaid and wanting to swing the boss in shackles from the ceiling, like the wild girls in “Nine to Five,” it may be time for you to look at some new career horizons. As unbelievable as it may seem, being your own boss just might be a good option.

Visit to find out more about the many resources available to anyone considering business ownership. SCORE mentors are on board to help you sort through the steps needed to transform your idea into a successful business venture.

Donna Probes, M.B.A., spent 10 years as a small business owner. She is retired from the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and is active as a SCORE mentor as well as a professional musical performer. For information on SCORE visit

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