— September 15, 2017
You already sense it: you‘ve got the fire within.
You can’t work for others forever. You’re okay with it for now… but not for long! The entrepreneurial life beckons.
You picture working for yourself, enjoying flexible hours, doing meaningful work and saying goodbye to the Monday morning blues forever.
You were just made for this. You can feel it in your bones.
There’s only one tiny problem. You don’t know where to start. Not to mention the nagging fear that you may fail in your entrepreneurial endeavours.
The good news is there are certain skills and traits that you can develop to become a successful entrepreneur. And you know where you can acquire them? In the most unlikely of sources – your current 9-to-5 job.
That’s right, your boring everyday job presents a terrific platform for you to learn the ropes of the game.
Here are five ways to learn the art of entrepreneurship while you’re working for someone else.
1. Do your research
Over 42% of businesses fail because there’s no market need for whatever they’re selling, offering or spruiking. Use your 9-to-5 job to identify your niche (presumably you’re already working in it), and check out how it’s performing in the consumer market. This will ensure your business doesn’t end up in the 42%.
Image Source: Fortune
Request access to marketing reports at work, and study them closely. Engage with return customers and channel partners to see what motivates, inspires and challenges them. Eventually, you’ll identify a target market and know its pain points.
Most of all, be patient and take advantage of your current stability as there will undoubtedly be financially tough times ahead.
Laying the groundwork for entrepreneurship while getting paid for it – now doesn’t that sound amazing?
2. Build your skills
Entrepreneurship is not just about using your core technical competence. It also involves marketing, finance, hiring, firing, operations and more. Your 9-to-5 job can teach you all this at the expense of your employer.
Sharpen your core competencies by asking to participate in training courses or indicating a desire to grow your skills. Observe your bosses to learn about the various facets of running a business, and seek out a mentor if you don’t already have one.
Sharpen your communication skills, too. Effective communication is an across-the-board trait of successful entrepreneurs. They use it to convince stakeholders, employees, investors, customers and the media to follow their vision.
3. Network like crazy
Networking is tough for most people. Many would rather walk on burning coals than make small talk. But it’s essential to success in business and you’ll find that even leading influencers (Jeff Bullas included) continue to network with others.
Being part of an organization offers tremendous opportunities to connect with others. Leverage this to engage with industry leaders. Build rapport with experts, and more importantly, learn to engage without being self-promotional and sales-y.
Hone the art of creating value. If done well, networking will pay off handsomely when you need constructive feedback when airing your offering. It also will bring you lots of visibility when experts spread the word about you or provide you with testimonials.
4. Start planning
Don’t wait to plan until you start.
Set aside worries about valuations, business models, and money for the time being, but work on your business model while on the go. Experience is the best teacher. You can amass it as much as you need in a 9-to-5 job.
As Richard Carlton, the former president of 3M Corporation said, “We’ve been very lucky at times. Some of our products are things you might say we’ve just stumbled on. But you can’t stumble if you’re not in motion.”
5. Build up your resilience
“Entrepreneurship is hard, both physically and emotionally. Doubt, anxiety, despair – along the way, every entrepreneur struggles with those feelings,” Jeff Haden wrote in an insightful article in 2014.
Entrepreneurship is exciting. It’s also incredibly gruelling. Only the tough survive for more than two years. Your current job can teach you resilience – something you will need in abundance.
Remain in your 9-to-5 job until you feel ready enough to take the plunge and see this in itself as an exercise in developing resilience. Build the mental strength to weather the inevitable difficult days. Hit the gym, exercise and eat healthy regularly. Bide your time and think about the big picture.
Entrepreneurship offers the best results when you already know the ropes in business. Of course, you will learn hands on. But long-term success comes with preparation.
Engage with your 9-to-5 job. Seek to understand processes. Note what works and what doesn’t – and what you might do differently.
But keep it to yourself! Make your ultimate goal – becoming a successful, value-creating entrepreneur – a secret goal, or you might get sacked before you get started.
If you need motivation to keep going at times, just remember your dreams are waiting for you to lay the groundwork to achieve them.