Job security: Execs prefer being employed to self-employment

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Most executives would decline the opportunity to be their own boss, according to a new survey. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they feel the average executive would not choose to be self-employed if he or she had the necessary startup capital. Thirty-two percent disagreed -- down from the 38 percent in a similar survey 10 years earlier who felt senior managers would, indeed, take the plunge.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world's premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. The national poll includes interviews with 150 senior executives -- including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments -- with the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Senior executives were asked, "If the average executive could be self-employed and had the necessary startup capital, do you feel he or she would make the move?" Their responses:

Answers 2007 1997
Yes 32% 38%
No 65% 57%
Don't know/no answer 3% 5%

"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."

However, McDonald pointed out that for professionals with an independent spirit, "hanging out a shingle" has its benefits. "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." He noted that consulting can be a good alternative for those who seek the advantages of self-employment without the administrative burden of owning a small business.


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