Why entrepreneurs should work for someone else first

Keeping your day job while working on a business idea could lead to 33 percent fewer failures. It could help build your network of investors, mentors and partners, and provide you a cash cushion to rely on

Updated: Aug 5, 2019 01:58:13 PM UTC
Image: Shutterstock

While being an entrepreneur may sound enticing and easy, that hardly ever is the case. Most entrepreneurs fail and for the ones who succeed, it takes years to start breaking even. It is a high-stress occupation involving many risks. However, it’s possible to improve your odds of succeeding.

According to a recent study, entrepreneurs who kept a day job while fostering a business idea on the side failed 33 percent less often. These entrepreneurs are more patient and more adept at finding the best business models. They also more financially secure with a safety net because of a steady income.

Here are four reasons why entrepreneurs should work for someone else first:

Understand how to manage a business
A great idea isn’t enough to successfully set up, run and scale a business. When you work for someone else, you learn how to tackle operational and organisational problems, think on your feet, and deal with stakeholders efficiently, while meeting the expectations of your employees. Watching other leaders handle their responsibilities first-hand is an enriching learning experience.

Hari Menon, the co-founder and CEO of Big Basket—the first online platform for groceries in India—worked in the corporate sector for over 15 years and gained valuable experience by working for companies such as PlanetAsia and Wipro. Tapping into this rich and versatile work experience, he founded Big Basket in his late 40s.

Build strong networks and connections
When you work alongside thought leaders and industry influencers in your sector, you not only acquire knowledge but also build a network of powerful contacts who can be your investors, advisors, mentors and even business partners.

Since these connections have enormous credibility within your sector as well as with potential investors, it makes things easier for you when you’re setting up your business venture. By connecting with a broader community of like-minded individuals, you benefit from their expertise, wisdom and insights.

Understand your culture
Working elsewhere first makes entrepreneurs appreciate and understand the importance of good work culture, which stems from the right kind of leadership. Working with a good or bad boss in the past will enable you to set the right culture that you believe will fit your company’s values and be the leader who inspires instead of intimidates.

Discover the key to building successful teams
Successful companies aren’t run by individuals, but by teams. Having a stellar team that shares your vision to build and scale a successful business is always beneficial. However, it’s difficult to understand how to build and manage highly productive teams if you have never been a part of any team in an organisation before.

Bill Gates reasons that if entrepreneurs want to go fast in business, then they can go alone, but if they wanted to go far and build a sustainable business, then they must go together with their teams. Similarly, Steve Jobs believed that great things in business were never accomplished by one person, but by teams.

As an entrepreneur, you should have the ability to recognise the right skills and attitude needed to choose members for your teams and motivate them to achieve business goals.

Final words
Working for someone else while developing your business idea can get hard. You might wonder if it’s all worth it, especially with rags-to-riches stories of entrepreneurs almost going bankrupt, or building their empires all by themselves. While it sounds incredible, it is not the complete picture.

Dig deeper and you’ll find years that they spent building networks, fostering teams and understanding business and organisational management. Working for someone else increases your credibility as a professional, hones your abilities, and helps you understand how to build and sustain a business. It also teaches you how to be a great leader and provides you with a cash cushion that you can rely on when you finally decide to start building your startup.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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