I just read this article that inspired me to write about my own experience as an entrepreneur and president of a startup company. The article was titled “8 Reasons to Choose a Startup over a Corporate Job”
Except for the beer and jeans during work, (which does sound quite enticing) the article couldn’t be more dead-on from my own experience.
I think people generally choose the corporate route because they believe it to be “safe” and have been brought up to believe that the correct path is to go to school, find a good job with good benefits at a reputable company. These jobs are what our parents would think of as “socially acceptable careers.” I was no exception to this upbringing!
This was all good advice years ago when those corporate companies kept their employees for many years and paid their 401K and retirement. Times have changed though, as we are all too well aware. Those “safe” corporate companies have downsized hundreds of thousands employees in the past few years. The higher the position and salary, the more expendable you are to be replaced by someone who can do your job at a reduced cost.
There are generally three avenues your career can follow in every corporate environment:
- Get promoted.
- Get fired.
- Get laid off.
Hopefully, your career path follows the first. Who is safe? The only people that are safe are the people that have a direct connection to bringing in revenue to the company. That will make you an asset. Those people are usually in sales and they must be good at what they do.
If you are beginning your career in an entry level position, there are probably many other people in the same position if you are in a large company. There are probably fewer management and even fewer upper management positions. Therefore, back to the original three avenues, if you do not excel, they will only give you so many raises until it doesn’t make sense for the company to keep you on.
When I interview people for an entry level position and ask them where they see themselves in five years, they generally tell me in a management role, with the idea that it will take that long to get into that position based on their prior ideas of promotion in the corporate world. Few people tell me that they would like to sit in my seat in less time because they do not believe this to be possible.
As an account executive at a Sales and Marketing Firm, which was also a small startup, I had the ability to take on many responsibilities, wear many different hats, and gain more skills in various areas than most people do in five years in the corporate world. I did not know if the startup company was going to be a right for me, and I guess no one really does until they try. But once I was able to understand the opportunity I had to advance, learn, and grow based on my own merit in a startup company, there was no other option for me.
Within a year and five months as an Account Executive, I learned B2B, face-to-face sales, negotiation skills, learned time management skills, managed a team of people, learned HR, administration, public speaking, ran workshops, attended business conferences, traveled, and most importantly learned true work ethic, and how to be a great leader.
In a corporate environment I would have had the opportunity to maybe learn one or two of those valuable skills and I highly doubt I would have had as much fun in the process! Being in an entrepreneurial environment, I also learned that mistakes and failure are inevitable. If I fell 7 times and got back up 8, I could win. I learned that it’s ok to lose as long as you don’t lose the lesson. More important than all of these is the understanding of delayed gratification. Ultimately, I have accomplished more than I would have in a corporate environment, but when I was going through my growing pains I had to understand that “You can play now and pay later or you can pay now and play later, either way you’re going to pay and either way you’re play, but if you choose the latter the results will be exponential.”
As I watched my friends who had their “safe” jobs, getting a higher starting salary, working less hours, it felt their gratification was immediate and mine was delayed. Flash forward a few years later, and based upon my experience and learning at a startup company, I have gone on to start my own startup, make my own rules, work environment, determine how much my own salary is. On the contrary, many of those that chose the corporate environment are still in the same positions, with much of the same job responsibilities. Some are on their second or third corporate company.
So back to what we consider safe, I have created my own security blanket based upon the value I can create for my clients, and how well I can develop my employees. My clients want me to grow faster than I have the ability to because of the results we bring them, and I have yet to lay off anyone in the time I have run my own business. In fact, we are growing exponentially. I have created my own “safe” work environment because I was willing to work hard and think outside the box.
They say that America will get out of this recession by the next generation of future entrepreneurs that will create value and jobs. This is why entrepreneurship is now a major in colleges. It is to encourage our next generation to create their own jobs, solutions, and safety for themselves and their future employees. Which route will you choose?
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- Rackspace Startup Program Spotlight: Masterbranch (rackspace.com)
- Creating a Data-Driven Startup (irislol.wordpress.com)
- Learn How To Build Your Startup By JOINING One (juangreatleap.com)
- Helping Others With Startup Mojo (openforum.com)
- Startup Company Job Fairs (charlotte.news14.com)
- Startup Company Growth (smallbiztrends.com)
- A Startup is a Job (battlehardened.wordpress.com)
- Solar startup company to hire 100 skilled workers in California (lincolnedu.com)
- ADDENDUM: Learn How To Build Your Startup By JOINING One (juangreatleap.com)
- Rackspace Startup Program: Looking Back at 2011 (rackspace.com)