Many entrepreneurs come from the corporate world where they played some role in a business, whether it was a multinational corporation or a local company.
While you definitely do not have to have corporate experience (or formal business experience, for that matter) to be an entrepreneur, there are a lot of skills that transfer directly from the conference room or cubicle farm to the incubator.
Here are skills you may have picked up in the corporate world that will serve you well as you start your venture or get deeper into the entrepreneur experience.
Networking on a professional level is a big part of corporate work. You probably met a lot of people during your career. This is great for two reasons.
First, you know people. Entrepreneurs need to meet as many people as possible and create as many connections as they can. Plus, there is a good chance you can get help from some of the people in your existing network.
Second, you know how to make connections with people. This will help as you reach out to partners, potential employees, investors, and other professionals on whom you can rely.
Make a concerted effort to meet new people every week. Shake hands and talk over drinks or lunch. Mingle at industry events. Use your networking skills to expand your network; it will be immensely helpful and potentially lucrative, since your first customers or clients are usually people you already know.
You may have been a project manager, or you may have had another role in which you managed aspects of a project. Either way, project management experience learned from your previous company(ies) will be enormously beneficial.
Even if you plan on being the visionary who delegates everything and focuses on the strategic, brand-building stuff, you will have to have project-management skills at some point, especially early on. This skill allows you to effectively define a goal and objective, create a method to achieve a result, keep track of progress and all the moving pieces, and measure progress.
Pitching to Others
You had to pitch yourself to get your previous jobs. You’ve had to pitch ideas to co-workers and leadership. You may have pitched other things to potential clients in a business development role.
A pitch is an attempt to get someone to do something. If you honed that ability in the corporate world, it will pay enormous dividends for you in your venture, as being an entrepreneur is pitching writ large. You will pitch everything: yourself, your brand, your abilities, your team, and your vision.
There are people who have become successful entrepreneurs on little more than their ability to pitch and persuade.
There are many types of leadership in many different settings. Corporate leadership revolves around identifying a vision, mission, and message and convincing others to follow them enthusiastically and relentlessly. Whether it’s hitting sales targets or launching a new project, the leadership skills you developed in the corporate world will be critical to your success.
Leaders know how to inspire, encourage, motivate, guide, and unite. You can find someone to do the management for you, but you cannot find someone to do the leading for you. That is your job as the head of your venture.
If you had leadership responsibilities in your previous career, you have a solid foundation for getting people to follow you because they want to.
You do not have to come from corporate to make it as an entrepreneur. But if you did, you likely have skills that will give you a better chance of success.
EO Birmingham helps entrepreneurs get the knowledge, mentorship, and networking they need to succeed, from startup leaders to established executives. Learn more about joining our organization today.