How I Became an Entrepreneur

James T. Berger headshot

James T. Berger
Senior Marketing Writer

Published May 11, 2005

Entrepreneurs in some ways resemble great leaders. Some are born entrepreneurs. Some become or evolve into entrepreneurs, and some have entrepreneurship thrust upon them.

My entry into entrepreneurship came about through the third scenario. I never really considered going into my own business until I was confronted with unforeseen circumstances. I was vice president and account supervisor for a moderate-size advertising agency and handling the shop’s most lucrative account. That unfortunately was my problem. All the rest of the business in the agency was going nowhere and when it came time for my salary review, I was politely told there was no money because the rest of the agency was doing so poorly – even through my account was doing beautifully. I refused to accept this excuse.

At this time my career was at a crossroads. I was about to turn 40 and the birth of my fourth and last child was imminent. I started doing some networking and discovered a number of former and erstwhile clients would be interested in my services if I started my own business. Inside of two weeks I accumulated four small clients who provided me with as much cash income as my salary from the agency. I also found a fellow entrepreneur who invited me to office in his space temporarily for no cost.

The long negotiations with the agency finally ended on a Friday and they offered me a rather decent 12 percent raise. On the following Monday, I submitted my resignation – and thus entrepreneurship was thrust upon me and I never looked back. I’ve been at it for more than 20 years and within 10 years, that agency went out of business.

What an exciting adventure it was at first as my little company bloomed. However, along the road, I have climbed peaks and fallen into valleys. Four times I took on almost full-time positions with companies, but I never gave up my business or stopped paying rent on my office. I was fired from all four positions. Once one commits himself/herself to entrepreneurship, it’s extremely difficult – in my case impossible – to turn back and return to the employer/employee relationship.

While I have hardly been a shattering success, I have still managed to maintain a beautiful home, educate my four children, take an occasional vacation and get up each morning and go to work with the satisfaction of knowing I am working for myself. When something good happens, I am the one who reaps the rewards, and when something bad happens, I suffer the consequences.

Posted in:

About The Author

James T. Berger headshot
James T. Berger, Senior Marketing Writer of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.