Most of us don’t start out as entrepreneurs. Because starting a business is so risky, many of us start out in the corporate working world as an employee.
But statistics show that the longer you remain employed by a corporation, the less likely you are to jump ship and start your own business.
It’s easy to build that cocoon of safety around yourself and begin to feel too insulated to step out and take a risk.
If you’re employed by a corporation but still harbor dreams of entrepreneurship, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Not only can you still make the choice to start your own business, but you can actually use specific lessons and on-the-job experience you’ve earned at your corporate job to prepare you for entrepreneurship.
How Your Corporate Job Prepares You for Entrepreneurship
You’ve had a lot of practice interfacing with your boss in the corporate world. That’s one of the ways a corporate job prepares you for entrepreneurship. There have surely been times when your boss acted in a manner you considered unprofessional or rude. There have been times when your boss was the picture of a positive, uplifting leader. Both are important experiences because they help you understand what you look for in a boss and what you look to avoid in a boss.
You can apply that experience to entrepreneurship. When it’s your turn to be the boss, remember the lessons you learned about leadership by working under your corporate boss. What could he or she have done differently? How can you apply those lessons to your own leadership practices?
All those years of abiding by a formal or informal company culture will pay off big time when you’re ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship. Following a set of rules and ensuring your actions fall within company expectations – even small things, like “The first person in the break room each morning makes the coffee” – will prepare you for entrepreneurship by teaching you how to build and help employees internalize a company culture.
Think back to your training for the corporate job. There were almost certainly statements like, “At Company B, we’re sticklers for data and testing, so we all run a couple A/B tests each week,” or “You’ll see right away that we’re all one big family here.”
Those statements served to formally let you know what the culture of the company was like and how you would need to adapt to fit into it. Apply that to your own business by knowing exactly what you want your culture to consist of and be purposeful about teaching and modeling that culture to your employees.
Remember the first time you dared ask for a promotion or raise? It was probably nerve-wracking, and understandably so. Asking an authority figure for more money or a better title requires a lot of courage. You’re not the only one who practiced your “pitch” in front of the mirror. If you managed to choke back your anxiety and ask for a promotion anyway, you were met with either a Yes or No answer.
Regardless of how it went, it prepared you for negotiating and handling investors. “You’ve got to be in it to win it.” Not being afraid to ask for more than was offered and being clear about what you need will prepare you for entrepreneurship.
In the corporate world, you might have done a lot of cross-departmental work. Collaborating with people that have different specializations than you is a very valuable skill that a corporate job can impart. If you have goals of becoming an entrepreneur, you’ll find that not much gets accomplished when it’s just you working.
Knowing how to see your own weaknesses and build those up with the strengths of others will make your future business more likely to succeed. Nothing kills a good business idea faster than the entrepreneur who thinks they can handle all aspects of the business alone.
These points explain a few of the ways a corporate job prepares you for entrepreneurship. What other lessons have your previous jobs imparted that helped you become a better entrepreneur? We’d love to hear from you!