Hello SOTGC community,
Many women ask: “how can I become an entrepreneur? I’ve been in the corporate world for so long I don’t know how to do anything else.” Well….here is how. You may have 5, 10, 15 years of corporate experience. You have learned a lot. How to work with customers. How to reach across the aisle and work with other departments or partners to get stuff done. You have sat in management meetings, have given input to strategy and operational planning.
Now you will use all of this experience as your foundation for starting your own business. Working backwards from a goal, timelines, project plans – you can use those skills for just about anything. But, here’s a secret you might not know until you live it:
Knowing about business is not the same as knowing how to start a business.
In my first SOTGC post “Moving From Corporate Executive to Entrepreneur” I compared the daunting task of starting your own business to the similarly daunting task of running your first marathon. Both are surmountable by breaking down a large task into smaller milestones, like turning 26.2 miles into a series of 5Ks.
Let’s break down entrepreneurship into steps you can manage. The first step is to inventory the skills and resources you have and then list what you need.
What are you doing in your current job that can be transferred to e-ship?
List (yes on a piece of paper or your laptop) your skills that you will need at helm of your startup. Such as:
- Can you read financial statements?
- How are your presentation skills?
- Are you technically savvy?
- Are you a competent negotiator?
- Have you made hiring decisions?
- Do you have budgetary responsibility
I think you will be surprised at the long list of skills you bring to the table. Not sure you got them all? Ask a trusted colleague to add their insight.
If you think your list is unimpressive or that some of your skills aren’t worthy of the list, think again. We all have something to offer.
Accept what skills you do NOT have that you will need to learn
Your skills inventory should reveal skills and experiences that are lacking if you are to succeed as CEO of Your First Biz, Inc
For example, if your business idea is in the fashion industry and you’ve never worked in fashion or retail – you need to fill that gap! If you’re not a confident public speaker – you need to develop that skill!
WARNING: this is where the self doubt kicks in. But don’t be freaked out by this list, which could be deep and wide (I know mine was). Simply accept what you don’t know and for each of those items identify how you are going to fill that gap. There is a method to learning and you can get through it step by step.
Assess your professional and personal networks
- Define your network. Include the people you work with everyday, previous colleagues, corporate partners, professional organizations, alumni associations…this is a long list. Each person on this list is important and can introduce you to new contacts. Pay special attention to those with experience as entrepreneurs or work in the startup ecosystem. Start talking with them now about your plans.
- Identify who you need to add to your network. Returning to the example of being new to the fashion industry, if you don’t have a contact in a new industry start to see who you do know who could get you closer to that fashion network. Be bold and attend events where those folks will be. And be ready to talk about your vision even if it is still forming in your mind.
Your personal assessment
A lot of critical entrepreneurial skills are intangible, including passion, openness, efficiency, resiliency. Ask yourself:
- How do I respond to negative feedback?
- Am I comfortable changing course?
- Am I open to opinions and personalities that are different from my own?
This is a great time to ask a colleague or confidant to write their own list of the qualities they have seen in you that could benefit the unpredictable and exhausting journey of an entrepreneur.
Now that you have identified what you know and need to know, in my next post I cover how to prepare yourself, your family and even your boss before you move any further down into your entrepreneurial journey.
In the meantime, reach out to me at @hsboggini with 3 skills you believe are critical to e-ship.
Photo credit: www.e-bigfish.name