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From Corporate to Entrepreneur

Five surprising ways in which your corporate career can set you up for entrepreneurial success!

Having spent 20 years in the corporate world even entertaining the concept of becoming an entrepreneur felt scary and totally alien to me. I always had this idea that you were either an entrepreneur or not. If you worked a job, then you worked a job and like most of our parents’ generation, you worked till you retired. I hadn’t really considered the concept that people left behind their careers to pursue the scary world of owing their own business.

When I started to tip toe into the world of entrepreneurship it was overwhelming and daunting. So many books to read, so many courses spamming my inbox and newsfeeds and don’t even mention the number of Facebook groups I have been added too. Think it hit 800 fairly quickly! It’s amazing though, so many people still in their main job (day job, 9-5, corporate job, whatever you call it) are giving themselves permission to want more by creating their corporate escape plans and dreaming of the day they are their own boss…

The freedom….

The perfect working/life balance….

Laptop lifestyle….

Finding their why…..

Do you know what it takes to be your own boss?

Knowledge, Vision, Passion, Value, Drive,… yep, all that… and more…

The thing is, many corporate convertors struggle with the transition because they see the two worlds as so very different that they find it difficult to get into the CEO mindset and genuinely don’t appreciate how much they already know about getting started. One of the biggest challenges is structure, or lack thereof. The realisation that as a CEO you are now responsible for your own schedule, no one will be checking what time you start working, how long you work, what you do or questioning how committed you are. Many new entrepreneurs fall into the trap of not knowing what to do next, or how to get started each day. It can really be the simplest of actions that can deter a whole day. It is important to learn lessons and use our experiences because they are who we are and by maximising our skills we can really get on the path to success.

1. Daily Routines (Or DMO – Daily Method of Operation)

If you are anything like me, your diary was filled with meeting invites before you even get a chance to think about what you needed to achieve or who you even wanted to meet with. Your day is planned for you before you even wake up. And most of that planning is done by other people. Even if you didn’t have a diary packed full you still had a daily pattern that your subconscious followed. You woke at a certain time (5 mins before the alarm I bet too) and you went on your commute at same time and arrived at your desk at the same time and went through similar pattern each day. Generally speaking.

If you are a solopreneur maybe in an online business and want the freedom to work from home then all of a sudden, your schedule is opened right up. What time should you get up? What should you do first?

Remember that in the corporate world you had that routine, all you need to do is set that new routine up and programme your subconscious to create those new daily habits.

Get a scheduling app, diary or even just an excel plan or a white board. Something that shows you visually how you break your day up. Make sure you include things like:

– Money making activities

– Client time/Follow ups

– Marketing/Social Media

– Personal Development (must always be learning)

– Mind Mapping / Creativity time

– Follow Ups …

It’s also good to have some flexibility in your schedule that’s one of the benefits of being your own boss. It can be useful to track your habits and see how well you are keeping to the schedule.

2. Company values & Mission = Your Brand Vision, Values & Mission
In the corporate world you learn to live the values of your company and you understand the mission. It’s what drives the culture and gives your company their brand. When you start out on your own you have to figure out your own brand identify. To make it simple think about what that meant for your corporate job, what was the company values & mission.

Now take this one step further and for your business create a vision board. Think about what values do you want to stand for and what do you value most. Use images and words as a starter on your board. Create the vision board for your business including what makes you unique, who do you serve and how…
once you have your vision, think back to company mission statements…. what’s yours? Does it align with your values and your vision?

3. Stakeholder Management = Relationship Building
I am sure in your job you came across different personalities and learnt how to manage those people and retain your sanity, mostly. In the entrepreneur world instead of bosses or awkward co-workers you have to manage your relationships with Clients, Peers, Influencers, mentors and coaches.
The same techniques in assessing stakeholders are just as valuable:
What impact will I or my business have on them?
What influence can they have on my business?
Why do I need them?
How can they benefit from collaborating or building a relationship with me?
What do they value?
Think about each person you meet and what role in your business could they play. If it’s a future client or customer, think of the experience they get from the first impression to loyalty. What do you want them to think about you and how will you interact to meet that?

4. Meetings/Conference & video calls
In today’s online world meetings are more important than ever but the great thing is it’s so easy. And for your own business you decide!
For face to face meetings or client meetings depending on your business depends on whether you can conduct it in a coffee shop, your home or you can even hire a meeting room or small office for an hour or a day. Shared workspaces are popping up all over.
You can also use apps like Zoom or Blue Jeans and many more on offer. I have often done my client coaching calls just be telephone or video messenger or Skype.
You decide what kind of interactions you will have and shape your meetings around what works for you and your clients. Remember though it’s important to network too. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. Find not just online networking groups but seek out local networking groups. Can’t find one, create it! You can bet there are many more business owners who would love to meet with like-minded business owners!
It’s not massively different to networking in the corporate environment in fact, it’s easier, less stressful and should be fun!

5. Action Plan / To Do lists – This is my favourite.
Ever sat at your desk in the morning and started writing all the things on your mind to do? How often do you get to a second page of items and lost the will to live? Phew it’s not just me then.
My corporate identity is in change & project management which has so many tools and techniques that entrepreneurs can adapt its amazing! The simplest technique I think I can share is how most effectively manage your action list.
Firstly, either use an app (something like Asana works great for this) or a white board/window/wall with a load of sticky notes.
Write on each of the notes all the ideas, actions, tasks you have.
Then write 3 signs and stick them up to be 3 column headers ( on Asana you can create the columns easily).

Backlog – What you have not started yet.

In Progress – Your top priorities and what you are working on ( or have outsourced to be worked on)

Complete – Achievements

Now we can all expand and create really complicated lists but this is simple, uncomplicated and well it’s easy to keep control. You choose what you put on the list, what order and can visually and physically feel that sense of achievement as the backlog item moves across the board.

At the end of each day/week you take five minutes to recheck your backlog, add/delete and update… then carry on with your day.

Simple!

I am sure for all my corporate convertors out there you will find many more skills and techniques that you can easily apply to being an entrepreneur. These five will give you a framework for structure, people, branding, communications and action. 

Get these right, and you are setting yourself up for success.

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