Aaarggh corporate life…for many of us, particularly those of us who have dreams of being our own boss, the thought of being a corporate slave 9-5 (or more like 24/7 these days!) is far from appealing, however a stint in the corporate world can be great for developing essential skills which will translate when it comes to starting and running your own business. Here are five things you can learn from a stint in the big, bad corporate world.
1. Building Resience
If you have bounced around the corporate world for more than a year or two you start to realise something pretty quickly (besides the fact that someone will always drink all of the milk!) and that is that you need to be resilient. From handling difficult team members, a crazy demanding boss or challenging suppliers developing a thick skin is essential to being able to get on and be successful. Being able to separate a personal attack from a business one is crucial if you plan to run your own business – whether it’s a dissatisfied customer, a disgruntled employee or a bad review online you need to learn to absorb, reflect, address and move on. In the corporate world you are doing this daily and in particularly hostile or competitive environments (hello banking world!) this is critical to being able to move forward.
2. Managing Risk
What many corporate entities do well that small business can often fail at is to systematically identify, manage and mitigate against risk – there are whole teams of people whose jobs are to understand what the risks and threats are to a company. Small businesses often wing it, with the owner/CEO/entrepreneur taking on the responsibility of risk management. If that’s the case knowing how to identify key business risk, putting in plans to mitigate against those risks and then managing any risks that materialise is invaluable – whether it is reputational, health and safety, data security or financial risks if you are planned for these events you can rest a little easier – it’s a little like insurance, you hope these things will never happened but if they do you are prepared.
3. Managing People
Management is a tough gig, and very few people naturally have the skills to be successful at it, for most people it takes practice, experience and a whole lotta patience. If you are planning to start a business that will have staff, management skills are essential. And while you may or may not have a management role in a corporate gig, what you can learn about managing people from being managed – the good, the bad and the ugly – is invaluable. What you takeaway from a terrible boss is equally as important as what learn from a great one. From our experience, there are very few great bosses and leaders out there, so anything you can do to learn to be both is beneficial (trust us your staff will love you for it).
4. Being Influential
Getting sh*t done in the corporate world is about 20% of actual work and 80% playing politics and influencing.
Apply this to your small business – whether you need council to approve a licence, need to play nice with your retail neighbours or landlord, want to influence a online juggernaut to work with you or stock your product, you are going to be more successful if you know how to influence at all levels. It’s impossible to be successful in the corporate world without this essential skill.
5. Work Discipline
There is nothing like strong work discipline to get your business started, and while this comes naturally to some, for many of us being your own boss can come with its own challenges – new found freedom can quickly translate into procrastination, putting things off until tomorrow and taking long breaks during the day. In the corporate world it’s hard to not develop a strong work discipline when you are expected to be in the door by 8am, not out until after 5 and are tracked and rewarded on the outcomes you achieve. Apply these skills to your start up venture and once your are up and running you can reap all of the rewards – more time with your family and friends, working remotely and managing your own time.
Of course, there are plenty of examples of successful businesses where the founder has had little to no corporate experience but in our opinion if you find yourself with the opportunity get some while you are getting your business up and running – jump at it or alternatively employ people who have had experience and listen to their ideas. Oh and make sure you always keep the fridge stocked with milk..
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