Many people think that because they’ve worked in the Corporate world they just aren’t cut out to start their own business. (Like there is some secret entrepreneur gene that they must be missing.) Wrong! I worked in a Corporate job for 25 years and I can say with certainty that I developed skill sets that have been highly transferable between the two worlds. Of course, being your own boss is not EXACTLY the same, but working for a company can definitely give you an edge over someone starting a business right out of college.
Here are some reasons why:
Having worked in the Corporate world, you’ve probably received some formal training and attended conferences and seminars (all paid for by your company) which have helped you grow professionally. All that training will be a great asset when you are your own boss. Or maybe like me, you’ve been introduced more than once to the “sink or swim” approach and had to learn a lot of new skills on the job. Well, guess what? That’s GREAT education to be an entrepreneur because that’s exactly what you need to do when you own a business–except the effort will be for YOU, not for someone else.
If you’ve been working for companies and rising in the ranks, chances are you’ve had experience hiring people and managing teams. Surprise! That’s a huge advantage when it comes time to start your own gig. When you run a business, you’re going to need to be able to select valuable team members like employees, agencies, or part-time help. Knowing what questions to ask and having the right instincts will serve you well when it comes time to expand your support system. Managing people also puts you at an advantage because you’re already used to dealing with different personality types and know how to get the best from people.
Established reputation and network
If you’ve been working for someone else for a while, chances are you have a nicely crafted LinkedIn profile with lots of contacts and an established reputation. These contacts will be a great resource when you start your own business. In one of my previous posts I talked about how important it is for you to surround yourself with your “wolf pack”. The truth is that it’s important to have experienced advisors who can provide guidance and mentoring along the way. Your network will also be valuable when it comes time to finding additional people to hire. What’s better than finding a prospective candidate who’s been referred to you by someone within your own network?
Dealing with ambiguity
I’ve never worked for a company that didn’t value the ability to work within ambiguous circumstances. Ambiguity is part of the business world today because things keep changing at breakneck speed. In today’s world, working for someone else can be very unpredictable and often, there is not a lot of hand holding. Corporations like to hire people that think on their feet, are self-motivated and don’t need to be told what to do. Employees that are problem-solvers and come to senior management with solutions are highly valued. Congratulations! That is great preparation for being your own boss. In fact, this article states that, “In addition to having the willingness and persistence to fail, dealing with ambiguity is also a core part of entrepreneurship. You’re essentially putting a definition to something that wasn’t there before.”
Test and Learn What Works (with Someone Else’s Money)
The good news when you work for someone else is that you’re learning and gaining valuable insights using the company budget, not your own. I’m not suggesting that you try all sorts of crazy things with your boss’ budget but there is something to be said for the learning gained by taking risks for someone else. By this time, you have also likely mastered the art of the test and learn framework which will be essential when you start your business. In this article, Angelina Darrisaw (who transitioned from a Corporate career to entrepreneurship), Founder & CEO of C-Suite Coach says, “I needed to learn about different revenue streams, office politics, managing clients, structuring deals, etc. to start my business. I’m sure I would have also learned it along the way also, but I think the business experience helped me avoid some potentially costly mistakes.” The mistakes you make now will benefit you in the long-run—so take notes!
In short, there are many reasons why the Corporate world can be a great training ground for future entrepreneurs. If you’ve been thinking about starting a business, what are you waiting for?
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