I help a lot of corporate refugees who are type A, super go-getter people that have been very successful in a career job working for someone else. Despite their success, they still feel like something is missing and over time, become resentful that their skills, talents and some of the best years of their life are spent making someone else rich. They yearn to build something of value for themselves and have flexibility to spend time with their family and cultivate hobbies. One day, the light bulb goes off and they decide to start their own business.
Because they've been super successful in their job, they are excellent at what they do. They assume this will translate to being a successful business owner. Often, they are lacking three critical skills that would lead to business success. Without these skills, they are doomed to fail. What are these skills?
1) Ability to Always See the Big Picture. Folks coming from a corporate job tend to be relentlessly focused on details. While the ability to focus on details is certainly necessary for a successful business, often people can't see the forest through the trees. They get so wrapped in minutiae of EVERYTHING, from their business name, to logo colors, to the font on their proposals, that they fail to focus on the important parts of starting a business, mainly, STARTING. Their drive for perfection paralyzes and prevents them from taking the most important actions to getting the ball rolling, namely just getting out there and making sales.
2) Delegate. This is a tough lesson for many to learn. Those that have achieved success in other areas of their life want to control every detail. They've been burned by inept team members in the past. Used to playing office politics and living under an imposed corporate hierarchy, they don't trust others to complete what they themselves think they can do better. As a business owner, this behavior is most likely to lead to failure, if not just a painful life as a business owner. Any successful business will eventually require help from others to run. The owner needs to be able to delegate tasks to others. Beyond just delegating the tasks, the owner needs to trust others to complete the tasks well, and realize that just because someone does something a bit differently than you might have done it, the important things is that it's done. This skill can be acquired with the proper training and systems in place, but many business owners are reluctant to delegate any tasks to begin with.
3) Mindset. I tell all of my clients being in business is all about mindset and managing your thoughts. It's a roller coaster of ups and downs and you have to be able to stay steady in the face of uncertainty. Many people focus so much on developing sales skills, marketing prowess and financial savvy, but they neglect mindset. Eventually, their emotions run amok and that can lead to bad decisions. Owners need to be able to keep a clear head and while listening to the gut can serve one well, it doesn't mean indulging every wild emotion that arises.
If you've ever thought about leaving your corporate life behind and striking out on your own, a successful career working for someone else doesn't always translate to being a successful business owner. With an open mind and a willingness to adapt, you'll have a much better shot at success.
Sarah E. Holmes is a Philadelphia business attorney and strategist that helps start ups and established businesses looking to expand, protect their assets and increase their profits in an approachable, down-to-earth way.