Employees complain about a lot of things. Long work hours, insufficient compensation, friction with their co-workers or supervisors, perhaps even a lack of purpose in the work itself. All of them may be justified to some degree. But they all stem from one root cause: lack of control.
Indeed, the dream scenario for many employees would be one day becoming their own boss, or at least having some control over the minutiae and general direction of their job. And often, the only realistic way to achieve those goals is to start your own business.
Yet diving into entrepreneurship is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. So most people end up sticking to the relative safety of the employment model. They are willing to trade their time, effort, and expertise in exchange for a guaranteed paycheck.
If you assess this model of thinking, however, it’s actually a trap. Despite the risks, even if you fail, attempting to start a business can be worthwhile in the context of your entire career. By passing up the opportunity, you may be settling for a lifetime of getting less than you deserve.
Coming back stronger from risk
There’s no question that running a business takes a lot of work. You might start out on the strength of your personal knowledge of a product, process, or industry. But you’ll need to complement that with the know-how in other areas.
Do you take the time to learn additional skills in marketing and leadership? Work with a coach for better speech and communications? Or delegate needs such as accountancy to outsourced professional bookkeeping services?
Most people with an employee’s mindset are accustomed to focusing on their deliverables. They have a set of tasks fitting their job description. They aren’t prepared to process the additional cognitive workload of decision-making that an entrepreneur must face on a daily basis.
The bottom line, though, is that you can try to rise to a challenge, or perpetually avoid it. And employers don’t tend to reward workers who settle down in a comfort zone. Succeed or fail, what bigger challenge is there in your career than trying to strike out on your own path?
In fact, the benefits of taking on this risk are tangible. Research has studied the post-entrepreneurship careers of business owners who eventually decided to return to the workforce. The findings show that on average, entrepreneurship at some point in your career will lead to a 10% increase in salary.
Polishing essential future skills
The evidence shows that if you attempt to start a business and return to employment, you won’t suffer in terms of compensation. And if the period of entrepreneurship was longer than two years, you’ll earn substantially more than colleagues with similar qualifications.
The research stops short of explaining why this effect might hold true. But other studies provide a good indication. According to the IFTF, Industry 4.0 trends will shape the future workplace to be a collaboration between humans and AI.
Consequently, the most valuable skills for employment are shaping up to be ‘soft’ or interpersonal skills, as well as essential human qualities. Creativity, empathy, critical thinking, and effective communication are among these prized attributes. And they are also the standout characteristics you’ll develop by getting into entrepreneurship.
The outcome of your business venture might not be successful. But what matters most is that you stick to it long enough to take away substantial lessons. In the process, you’ll improve your intangibles in a way that is perfectly suited to the future of employment.
Handling the transition
That said, it’s not enough to simply get into businesses for a couple of years and head back to the job hunt. You have to put some effort into really showing that you’ve come back better for the experience.
Update your resume to highlight the unique value that entrepreneurial experiences have brought to your career. Be prepared to demonstrate how all those skills can effectively translate to better performance in your new role.
Keep in mind that managing this transition can be difficult. You’re stepping down from a position of high autonomy and responsibility. And your potential employers and managers might question why you’ve quit the business in the first place.
You have to be as earnest about getting back into employment as you were about starting a business in the first place. Returning to the workforce is a safety net, after all. You strive your utmost to succeed in your venture, and hopefully never have to worry about getting hired again. But if it comes to that, you’ll be prepared to tackle any challenge with an entrepreneur’s mindset.