Entrepreneurship: The New Work Experience

 

In today’s market, getting a job seems complicated. Many recent college graduates often complain that you need “years of experience for entry level positions”.

At times, it can seem as though the only way to build the experience you need is by interning and doing menial labor for an extended period just to get the opportunity to be underpaid. Well, I’ve noticed an interesting trend. Organizations hiring entrepreneurs. It might seem strange, but it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Due to the lack of jobs in a falling market,after 2008, many people were forced to strike out on their own. And millennials with their longing to make a difference opted out of the corporate machine. They could now work with the freedom they desired and see first hand the impact they were having on the world.

Now, in 2016, with the economy roaring back and social media driving global perception, corporations are taking on a triple bottom line, Profit, People, and Planet. It’s no wonder that these corporations are not only hiring, they’re looking more attractive to these two groups. We’ll call them “Entrepreneurs of Necessity” and Entrepreneurs for Change”.

Entrepreneur’s Take: James, Career Coach
“If you can’t win in your career through competition, you can win (succeed) through creating the opportunities you want, and you can create these opportunities and experiences as an entrepreneur and unlike an employee, as your own boss, nobody can tell you no. Even if you fail, it’s still a good experience. You can still talk about what you’ve learned in the process. As an entrepreneur, you’re in control of the money you ultimately make.”

Entrepreneurial Perspective

One of the primary benefits of hiring entrepreneurs is that they have a fuller understanding of how a business functions. It’s not about just doing their task well and hoping the machine keeps running. Entrepreneurs have had to juggle accounting, legal, service, sales, and customer service. When we enter a position, we have a more well-rounded view of what it takes for a company to succeed as a whole. That’s a major competitive advantage. An entrepreneur truly knows at stake.

Entrepreneur’s Take: Tifani, Lawyer / General Counsel
For one, the hiring committee (consisting of the CEO, COO/CFO, and HR manager) were looking for someone with 10–15 years of experience. I had 8 years, but two of those were spent running my own law firm. The CEO felt that two years of running my own business was worth as much as or more than those additional years of just being a lawyer. Being a General Counsel requires big picture thinking and resolute decision-making so that I can advise the CEO on strategy — not just legal, but overall business. As an entrepreneur, I honed those skills in a way I just never would have had I only been an employee at a law firm (which I was before I started my own firm).

Self Starting

Entrepreneurs are not likely to wait for someone to tell them what to do. They run into problems and solve them on the daily. Sometimes ‘solution judo’ is a matter of eating and not eating so it becomes an ingrained skill set. In a fast paced work environment, there may not always be someone to stop and babysit a new employee. Most of an entrepreneurs duties are to figure out what needs to be done, and do them.

James Logan, Career Coach
“Def a competitive advantage, you simply have more experience as an entrepreneur and you can create them, you don’t have to wait on anyone to give you the green light. What you gained through competition is much less significant than what you gained through creation.”

Hello, World!

Entrepreneurs are quick to become intrapreneurs. They have the skill sets and motivation to lead teams, meet milestones, and be held accountable for outcomes. This is invaluable for a business. When I was hired for my first job during my 5-year stint as a freelance designer I was installed as manager and quality assurance over 30 entry-level designers. Many were my senior in age and all learning the art of design. At 24 years old, that’s an unusual responsibility but it was made possible by the skills I’d developed and, of course, relationships.

Raising the Profile

This might be the clearest competitive advantage entrepreneurs have over traditional job seekers. What’s more impressive than a run of the mill resume and Linkedin page? Public notoriety, news stories, and a powerful personal brand. It’s a lot easier to get a job when those opportunities come to you.

Entrepreneur’s Take: Tifani, Lawyer / General Counsel
“Getting to the table to be in a position to interview for the job directly stemmed from being an entrepreneur. I always say I was a “reluctant entrepreneur” — I don’t naturally have the risk-taking and confident demeanor that being an entrepreneur requires. I wasn’t interested in being a business owner, I was just interested in serving small businesses and to do so, I had to start that law practice. Over time, those entrepreneurial skills really developed, and when I walked into that interview, I felt confident enough to feel like I could actually do the job because of the experience I had running my own business. I flat out told the hiring committee during my interview that two years ago, before I started my business, I would not have been able to do the job as GC (General Counsel); but because of the responsibility and experience of starting and running my business, I could move at a quick pace, feel comfortable making big decisions, learn on the fly, and take ownership of my role.”

While on the path of building your business you have no choice but to market yourself. In the process, you build relationships. If you’re very savvy, you focus on creating a personal brand for yourself that reflects the work you would do at a higher level if given more resources. Showing your value is a lot more simple when the local news is talking about it. A positive personal brand is also a win for an organization or business. It shows that they’re using local talent and genuinely interested in the market that they serve.

Entrepreneur’s Take: Jay, Detroit Community Director
RepYourCity (which led to Social Sushi and other things) definitely paved the way for job opportunities. In 2010, I was coming off of a career in electrical engineering. Through RYC, I literally recreated/rebranded myself through creating networking opportunities, artist showcases, youth/community engagement and even social media strategies. I was able to put these things asnewly developed skills that I didn’t have prior to. So from RYC and Social Sushi came social media management gigs, community engagement gigs, and now working full time for a nonprofit doing exactly what I’ve already been doing for the past 5 years. Entrepreneurship as a gateway to pursuing careers of passion is a very valuable strategy in my opinion

Hiring entrepreneurs makes a lot of sense for businesses and organizations. They’re go-getters and task driven. But becoming more entrepreneurial is also strongly encouraged option for the casual job seeker. You don’t have to go out and start Ford Motor Company to get the job of your dreams. Just dive into your passions when you have time. Start to learn what it means to build opportunity out of things your love to do. Bake, draw, design, speak, write, if you start on the path to pursuing your goals, it’s a lot easier to build the relationships you’ll need to get there. I think the most important takeaway from this is that taking a job after being an entrepreneur is not a failure. You can always return to entrepreneurship, or just take the lessons from your time going solo to add more experience to your toolkit. Your career is on a continuum, and only your happiness and peace of mind can determine where you eventually land.

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Eric Thomas is a Branding Specialist and Senior Partner at Saga MKTG based in Detroit MI. He’s also an entrepreneur who never believes “the way it has been done” is the “way it must be done.”

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About the Author:

Eric Thomas

Branding. Marketing. Business. I make things happen.


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