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Having made the transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship nearly 20 years ago, I have lived and know first-hand the realities of what is required to find success and eventual significance. One thing is certain: there is no template for the opportunities – and the adversity – you will be faced with – and how you will react to each new experience.
While employees are becoming more inspired and restless to test their entrepreneurial spirit, most are unprepared for the uncertainty that goes with having to pay their own salaries, invest in their own ideas – and the challenges associated with establishing enough distinction in their value proposition to create marketplace demand.
As James P. Beran, author of The Biggest Short Guy, said on the subject: “Being a successful entrepreneur is like being an Olympic Decathlete. It takes a total commitment of your mind and body. It requires a multitude of skills – all of which must be performed at world class levels. It requires an iron will that few possess. And it requires the unshakeable belief that you will be standing on that podium in the end – that you will win.”
Here are three things you must be ready to do before becoming an entrepreneur:
1. Add more weight to your brand.
Those who transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship often believe that the brands they have worked for in the past are their tickets to success. That may have been true 20 years ago, but in today’s marketplace, your clients and customers want innovative, cost-cutting solutions that can help their businesses grow and evolve. Beyond your resume, they want to know that you have a proven product or service where ROI can be measured.
Your corporate brands are helpful, but they don’t carry as much weight as you might think. Why not? Because you don’t bring the resources, clout and money of those brands with you. In fact, be careful of promoting those brands too much. They may hurt you more than help you, especially if they become your calling card. You never know if a client had a bad experience with a particular brand. In the end, the only brand they really care about is your brand and your ability to deliver upon the value proposition and potential benefits you proposed to them.
2. Be OK with being vulnerable.
Throw your ego out the door and let yourself be vulnerable. When you transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship – you will truly begin to learn what you don’t know. Especially if you are on your own or part of a small group of people, if you don’t have both the knowledge and wisdom to compete, you will soon be out of business.
Assemble an active advisory board that you can lean on. These should be people that know you and that you trust – enough to let them challenge your thinking, ideas and intentions. Becoming an entrepreneur is a humbling experience. You no longer have the corporate brand and infrastructure to support your knowledge gaps and vulnerabilities. But you can align yourself with the right people that can make you smarter, wiser and much more knowledgeable about your overall business and how to (over) deliver on it every day.
3. Believe that you can do it.
This is the one you hear about most often – yet it is the most difficult. Belief is a big word with a lot of depth and determination behind it. Belief in one’s self is the ability to trust yourself against all odds. It’s knowing that you have one chance to make a great first impression. It’s about the ability to bounce back when you are losing your confidence.
Belief in yourself gives you hope and the self-confidence to keep moving forward and closer to earning serendipity. It broadens your observations and gives you the circular vision to see around, beneath and beyond the obvious; it invigorates your passionate pursuits of endless possibilities; and it will remind you to embrace the entrepreneurial attitude through the spirit of survival, renewal and reinvention.
As the marketplace continues to remind us that it is becoming less about the business defining the individual and much more about the individual defining the business, the transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship can be an extremely private and insulated journey. Instead of comparing yourself to others and questioning your decisions based on other’s opinions, take stock of these considerations and your own readiness for entrepreneurship.