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Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.
The grass is always greener on the other side. It seems that everyone I know who works in a corporate environment dreams of escaping to become an entrepreneur, and every entrepreneur wants him or her to have the security of a regular paycheck.
As someone who has experience on both sides of this fence, I am convinced that the transition from an employee to a contractor is much more risky.
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Many good entrepreneurs I know have found that corporate roles are “recovery and recharge” positions between startups, because experienced entrepreneurs generally have a wide range of skills and the flexibility and confidence needed to adapt. On the other hand, employees who have lived in very structured and narrow corporate roles often do not have a realistic vision of the outside world:
1. Lack of focus on the business side of an idea.
Technical professionals, in particular, often forget that an innovative product is necessary, but not sufficient, to start a business. Their previous narrow focus in a corporate job gives little information about the challenges of a winning business model, cash flow and marketing. Customers can be very tough bosses.
2. Payment for a startup takes longer than expected.
Startup marketing guru Seth Godin once said, “It takes about six years of hard work to become an overnight success,” and he is optimistic. Professionals who leave corporate roles for more money are generally disappointed. Startups cost money long before they pay.
3. The challenges of getting started can be more painful than the frustrations of business.
Professionals who are currently not satisfied in a corporate job may not be ready for the start-up roller coaster. LikendisLikes see vacations, training courses and administrative staff as a luxury they rarely see. Make sure your passion is on at a startup, not a way of the company.
4. An egocentric vision of performance.
In your business role, success is often measured by personal performance, regardless of the growth of the business. In a startup, a customer-centric view is required, and the success or failure of the business takes precedence over all personal measures. There is no room in a startup for the selfish Lone Ranger.
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5. Not prepared for loneliness at the top of a startup.
Managing a startup is difficult because you are really alone, without peer support. If your personality is already leaning towards narcissism, being the boss can bring out the worst in you, leading to bullying, deception and the use of coercive power. Of course, this leads to additional isolation.
6. Think that a startup is a work against a lifestyle.
A corporate role can be a short-term job, but the entrepreneurial role is a lifestyle commitment. It is not a promotion of employment at the higher level, nor an escape from too much stress or responsibilities. A lifestyle requires a passion for travel, more than for the destination.
Every employee needs to understand these challenges, as the days are over when people embark on an early career for life with just one business, or a lifetime of entrepreneurship. Today, even the average baby boomer will have changed jobs more than 10 times, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Gen-Yers are already changing far more frequently.
If you are planning a business escape like your next move, it is better to think seriously about a plan B, just in case it doesn’t work. Don’t blow up your bridges on your way out, just in case you want to come back. Jumping randomly from one bad situation to another is not very smart. Maintaining good connections and relationships in both worlds is always valuable.
Many corporate employees seem to think that all jobs are a necessary evil and always seek to minimize the pain. Successful entrepreneurs do not see their role as a job and tend to approach it with passion and enthusiasm. Making this mental transition is the key to any escape, and it has to happen before you move, not after.
Remember, we all spend most of our lives at work bringing something to others and getting something in return. It is up to you to make it a satisfying and productive experience, rather than a prison from which you dream of escaping. It may be time to reset your frame of mind before hoping that a career change will do it for you.
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