If You Suck as an Employee, You Will Probably Suck as an Entrepreneur
Here are three reasons why the habits you build now will matter later.
6 min read
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Do you want to make the jump from working for an employer to running your own business? Odds are that if you suck as an employee now, then you won’t make it as an entrepreneur. It sounds harsh, but that’s real talk.
As an employee, if you don’t build the skills you need to thrive as an entrepreneur, especially in terms of having a strong work ethic, then it’s incredibly difficult to flip a switch and all of a sudden thrive as an entrepreneur.
I know you’re probably thinking that the two situations are unrelated. Maybe you don’t like your boss, or you’re bored with your work assignments or there’s some other factor that you think you can change when you become an entrepreneur. But the truth is that you have an even higher level of accountability to others and higher expectations to overdeliver as an entrepreneur than as an employee.
Even if you’re passionate about the business you’re trying to build, you probably won’t make it if you don’t have the work ethic to do all the little things that aren’t so fun, but which are necessary to succeed. Of course there are exceptions and extenuating circumstances that make someone a better entrepreneur than an employee, but generally, you need to build the work ethic to thrive in any environment first.
You will always have a boss.
If you want to be an entrepreneur so you can work for yourself, you need to come to terms with the fact that you will always have a boss. In fact, you will likely have several bosses as an entrepreneur. It may sound cliche, but your clients, partners, affiliates, etc., are all your bosses. If you don’t deliver on what you say you will on time, they have the ability to stop working with you.
If you don’t have the work ethic now to do what your boss asks, imagine what that will be like as an entrepreneur. If you run a graphic design business and your client asks you to make edits to a design you think is perfect, do you really think you have the ability to brush off that request? If you do, that client could easily stop working with you and find another designer.
Especially when you’re first starting out, you likely will need to take on a lot of tasks yourself that fall outside of your core business skills, so take the time now as an employee to learn how to get comfortable doing grunt work and going the extra mile so that you can do the same as an entrepreneur.
The business world won’t change to fit your schedule.
Do you want to be an entrepreneur because the 9 to 5 corporate schedule doesn’t mesh with your lifestyle? Well, even though you have the option to sleep late if you run your own business, you can’t change the fact that most other businesses still operate on a 9 to 5 schedule.
If your client can only meet at 9 a.m., then you have to get up and go to that meeting just like you’d go to a normal job. If you don’t have the work ethic to do so, you’ll lose out on clients.
And if you think you can take off whenever you want, don’t forget that your own schedule may not align with your clients’ schedules. Right now, you may just have to request off from one boss, but if you want to take a vacation as an entrepreneur and plan on going off the grid, you’ll have to check in with all your bosses (your clients and partners), let them know about your plans and hope they’ll still want to work with you when you get back. The more realistic scenario is that you’ll always be somewhat on the clock, especially when you’re first starting out.
Use your time as an employee as paid training.
Even though being an entrepreneur takes a lot of hard work, it’s still a very rewarding lifestyle because you get to take more ownership over what you do. As an employee, it can be frustrating to overdeliver and not see the rewards in terms of praise or compensation, but as an entrepreneur you get the great feeling of making your clients happy and growing your business. And over time, you can build strong relationships with clients and hire others to help you out so that you potentially can have more flexibility and freedom to do what you want than you would as an employee.
To get to that point, however, you need to have a strong work ethic, marketable skills and a strong network of people to turn to for leads, advice and support. You can build all of that at your current job while getting paid, whereas you’ll have little to no income if you try to learn all that on the job as an entrepreneur.
So whether you’re a barista, a lawyer or any other type of role, think of your time as an employee as paid training if you’re serious about being an entrepreneur. Stretch yourself to take on tasks you normally wouldn’t want to do, learn from those who have more experience than you, see how they interact with clients, and form strong relationships with others, because you’ll never know who can turn into a valuable contact later on when you’re running your own business.
If you can do all that, you’ll have a better chance of making it as an entrepreneur.