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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Q: I'm an interior designer, working at the same firm for the last 15 years. One of the senior partners has just chosen to retire, and I've been named the newest partner. I should be thrilled. In my industry this is considered the opportunity of a lifetime for a young woman under 45. I'm honored and even excited.

Yet, I've been quietly seeking and have just attained backing to start my own boutique firm. Creating something on my own has always been a very real professional goal of mine. I know this is a dream problem and I am very lucky! However, I am at odds on which direction to go in. What do you think?


I'm so glad you identified your situation as a dream problem.

It saved me the trouble of having to point that out -- and it truly is!

The Pros and Cons of Staying Put:

Being named a partner may release you from the burden of having to always be looking for a better position. The salary will most likely be consistent, and grow with time and future successes. You will have the satisfaction of working amongst a team of fellow leaders, helping to guide the philosophy and agenda of your firm's future.

On the flipside, it can be limiting to feel like YOUR future is so neatly laid out. You have climbed the ladder, so you crave challenges and competition. With your newly won "top-dog" status, you will no longer need to claw your way up, and competition will inevitably wane. Perhaps a very concentrated level of intensity is essential to keeping your particular juices flowing. The highest of achievers often feel that entrepreneurship is in their blood.

The Pros and Cons of Leaving:

Exiting gives you the opportunity to be the "designer"' of your own dreams. There is excitement in your language which makes it obvious that this option is still a very appealing priority to you.

You are very fortunate to have the safety-net of this backer. Many others have gone out alone to establish themselves, without any funding. Are you willing to let this rare opportunity slip away?

Selecting a path to become one's own boss forces us to face difficult truths and the need for some serious reality testing absolutely necessary.

Reality Testing Questions:

What if the funding falls through?

What if your designs do not find a market?

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What if none of your previous clients follow you?

Are you prepared to handle the reality that you may not succeed?

Can you face this 'failure' scenario, and not resent yourself for turning down the partnership when it was offered?

You need to answer these questions honestly and succinctly. Do not lie to yourself.

In Conclusion:

You are obviously an action-oriented individual who works hard for what she wants. In the face of your exciting achievements you've managed to reach and frame for yourself a very real choice. I will strongly advise you to keep reflecting on your options, rather than jumping in to a decision too quickly.

Get counsel from a carefully selected group of peers, advisors, mentors, and even a therapist if you see one. I would speak with financial advisors, and reflect on how either choice will affects your present wallet as well.

In the end, after very careful consideration, you will inevitably follow your nose. Trust that nose!

As you implied earlier; this is the type of dilemma the average Joe or Jane would only dream of. So enjoy the ride my friend!

Thanks for the question, and best of luck. Please send any thoughts or comments to Ask Noah at


Have a profitable and peaceful week,


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