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New American Dream: Many are leaving the corporate world to start own entrepreneurial ventures

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Andy Harrison of east Cobb stands outside one of his rental properties in Lithia Springs that he has available through his property management company, COG Management, which he purchased May 2011. Harrison’s property management company manages approximately 500 units in Cobb, Paulding, Douglas, Carroll, Polk and Bartow counties that includes residential and multi-unit apartment complexes. Harrison is one of a number of Cobb professionals moving from the corporate world to working for themselves.
Staff/Laura Moon

For 12 years, Andy Harrison climbed the corporate ladder, managing the operations of a mid-size metro telecommunication company and then a regional telecommunication construction company.

But like many others slogging through this economy, he wanted to do something else — and he wanted to work for himself. Today, Harrison is the owner and general manager of COG Management, an east Cobb-based residential property management company he bought in May. His firm specializes in the management of residential single-family homes and large multifamily communities.

Harrison is one of a number of Cobb professionals moving from the corporate world to working for themselves. Kent Reed, owner of North Atlanta Murphy Business & Financial Corporation in Marietta, sees this everyday. His business brokerage firm is tasked with helping professionals take control of their careers.

“There are no more golden watches; corporations do not have the employee loyalty that they use to,” Reed said. “You can work for a corporation for 25 years and get laid off or kicked to the curb. They tell themselves they are either going to make it or not on their own. There are a lot of boomers entering the job market that did not intend to enter it. They are too old to get rehired and have fewer options. So they look to buy an existing business or new franchise.”

Most professionals who consult with Murphy Business & Financial Corporation are white-collar professionals looking to purchase a business-to-business company. The firm also works with blue-collar retail and small-business opportunities as well.

“There are two kinds of entrepreneurs out there today,” Reed said. “One is the young and tech-savvy go-getters interested in launching a technology or service-type business. The others are baby boomers exiting the business world. They are more experienced, but may not be tech savvy.”

After Harrison was laid off, he found the motivation to make the leap into business ownership, something he thought about for a long time.

“It’s the American Dream,” he said. “It’s a way to provide income for my family, and if successful, it’s something I can pass down to my children.”

Setting his sights on the real estate market, he started researching types of businesses, business structures and options for securing capital, insurance, self-directed retirement plans and business brokers. After interviewing several business owners, he reached out to Murphy Business & Financial Corporation to secure a deal.

So far, business has been good for COG Management. Harrison said that the residential rental and property management businesses are booming. And while real estate sales might be down, residential rentals are up — and growing. With a multitude of inexpensive homes to buy, investors are getting great returns on rental rates.

“If you are considering purchasing a business, do your research,” Harrison said. “It’s not an easy, get-rich, quick deal; it takes tons of work to run a business. Look around. You will not know what a good business looks like until you see several bad ones.”

Reed said success lies in the steps you take.

“You must surround yourself with good people. It is important to bring people on your team who are good at doing things that you don’t do well. You have to be able to access your own skills and see which areas you need help with.”

Michael J. Pallerino has reported on business news for magazines and newspapers in the Atlanta area for more than 20 years.

FIVE WAYS TO DO YOUR OWN THING

* 1. Interview business brokers — Don’t go at it alone.

* 2. Do your skills assessment — Find out your strengths and weaknesses.

* 3. Search for the right type of business — Given the economy, location, etc.

* 4. Hire a good support team — Find a strong business broker, lawyer, accountant, manager, etc.

* 5. Make sure you can do it until your retirement — It’s important to love what you do.

— Source: Kent Reed, North Atlanta Murphy Business & Financial Corporation in Marietta

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal, August 29, 2012. Written by Michael J. Pallerino. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – New American Dream Many are leaving the corporate world to start own entrepreneurial ventures)

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