Many entrepreneurs who leave large companies to start their own businesses have to spend some time transitioning from a conservative corporate environment to the far less formal, more expressive culture of a start-up. David Cutler, 29, and his partner, Jeff Palmer, 30, both worked in the technology division at Andersen Consulting for several years before starting their own high-tech start-up, Curious Networks, in Chicago.
Cutler says working as an Andersen consultant with Fortune 500 companies and helping them develop world-class computer systems gave him invaluable experience in dealing with clients and handling himself in professional situations. Andersen also taught Cutler how to deal with a variety of client problems. "Once you get a reputation and some experience, Andersen will just plop you down in any client situation, and you have to be productive immediately," he explains. "You also have to be able to accommodate and learn to interact with a wide variety of people and cultures."
"There's a lot to be learned from the right organization and from associating with the right people," adds Alexander. "Some people have that knowledge intuitively; others learn it on the fly. Still others do better when they get swept up in the culture of an organization that performs well."
Julie Vallone is a Walnut Creek, California, business and technology writer who has worked in plenty of big ponds but prefers her little one.
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