The new wave of entrepreneurship is changing the start-up landscape for sure. It’s nearly free to start a company online, young people are flipping websites like boomers flip houses, and even teens are having wild success.
Life as an entrepreneur has never been so fun, but that is very annoying to hear if you are in a corporate job. Fortunately, this trend is so big at this point, that it’s affecting corporate life as well. Here are five ways to use entrepreneurship to make your corporate job better.
1. Think of entrepreneurship as a safety net that allows you to demand more from your job. If you don’t like the job offers you have, you can leave. Start your own company. The history of the organization man is someone who is defined by whatever track the company puts him on. You don’t want to be that.
Today, you have the freedom to figure out who you are and what you want, even in the context of the company, because if you find out that you are not compatible, you can leave. The freedom to leave gives you the freedom to truly examine who you are.
Chris Britt is chief executive of accounting firm Priviley. He founded the firm after a quick stint doing finance in the hotel industry and finding that he was not well suited for the environment. Britt is an example of the massive wave of young people who are testing big-company waters and then striking out on their own.
2. Think of intrapreneurship as a launching pad for those who are waiting for the right idea. Seventy percent of young people say they eventually want to work for themselves. The problem is that only a fraction of those people have an idea for a company – or a friend with an idea for a company. So there are a lot of people in corporate America waiting for their moment, but thinking of themselves as entrepreneurs at heart.
Those people are great at taking a project and making it their own. They create a project arena for themselves that has the feel of a small company within a large company, and then take ownership like it’s a start-up. Of course this is incredibly annoying to some old-school managers, but to a young person hellbent on entrepreneurship, starting something small within something big – which is what intrapreneurship is – often is the only way to make big-company life palatable.
3. Get in a rotational program to learn a broad range of skills that many entrepreneurs learn as they go. Some of the most popular post-college routes today are management training programs at companies such as General Electric or Procter & Gamble, where superstar candidates get to test out the work in lots of departments in a company. Candidates often see these programs as stepping stones to running their own business, when the time is right, because as an entrepreneur you wear so many different hats.
4. Recognize that with no clear ladder to climb, you’re an entrepreneur even if you never leave corporate life. Even if you don’t want to launch a start-up, you still end up functioning like an entrepreneur in today’s new workplace. There is no long-term stability, so the way you create stability is with your skill set and your connections. You are the product, and you are the sales and marketing team for your product. On average, people today are changing jobs every two to five years, which means you must function like an entrepreneur nearly all of the time if you are going to bring in a steady paycheck.
5. Think of corporate jobs as a way to fund entrepreneurship. It used to be that you were either corporate or an entrepreneur. Today, people move in and out of big companies and start-ups, using the steady paycheck to fund the risky venture. This is what Britt did, using the money he earned from the hotel industry as the seed funding for Priviley. This model gives founders the benefit of not having to divert their attention to raising angel funding.
The self-funding model has spawned a generation of scrappy founders who use virtual tools and low-budget marketing. Priviley, for example, provides services to a wide range of other start-ups, creating a community of entrepreneurs that model these larger trends.
And, of course, the self-funding model also allows founders to reap benefits more quickly because they don’t have to share large pieces of their pie.
Priviley is doing so well, for example, that at this point Britt is able to take an afternoon off to go flying.