Part 1 of this blog summarises my early personal and business learning about moving from a corporate day job to startup my own small business.
Part 2 discusses how my corporate skills have both helped and challenged me to identify, plan and run my business startup.
In Part 2, I look at how I harnessed my corporate experience to help me startup my business and identify my market. A few months in, what worked in my favour and what worked against me in this situation? What did I learn and how did I adapt my business model accordingly? Had I planned and handled the transition wisely?
I summarise my key learning as hints and tips below. I hope that some of it is helpful, if you are contemplating a similar path:
1. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
Be prepared to draw on your corporate experience and transferrable skills, instead of hoping to reinvent yourself overnight. Startup success often comes from a combination of experience and passion, rather than from a hobby, or something you know little about.
2. Adapt your skills and approach
A small business runs in a very different way than a corporate organisation, and the problems are not the same. You may need to adapt business team workshops, communication processes and project management to something that works one-to-one, or for a group of individual business owners. Also I’d never needed to market myself in that role. I recognised that as a big skills gap, and I secured expertise to help me to do this effectively for my small business startup.
3. Simplify your tools
I recognised the need to develop a simplified set of tools and approaches to make my coaching proportionate to the capacity of smaller organisations. For example, instead of training business owners in Microsoft Project and Gantt charts, I used the simpler Transformation map format. I also produced a brochure to help illustrate my offer to such organisations.
4. Target the right audience
To continue using some of my corporate know-how, I’ve progressively targetted leaders and decision makers of larger organisations and administrations:
- SMEs with over 10 employees
- regional administrations and organisations
- regional funders and trainers
- ERDF funded framework contracts
- public sector Leadership training bodies
5. Target the right networks
Along with many, I’m sure that my approach to networking was somewhat random during the early startup stages. Since then, I’ve learned to identify networking events and other collaborative opportunities that will lead me to the right conversations, learning and connections with the types of organisations above.
6. Supporting myself
I also recognised the support I could get from other startups, networks and co-working spaces, even if they didn’t lead directly to clients. These were vital for my wellbeing and such opportunities have led to some excellent marketing support, social events and new friends.
Due to the need to manage areas and teams, my previous corporate role gave me a good insight into business planning, project management, writing and documentation, risk and financial management. Perhaps more than I gave myself credit for at the time? I found this helped me to plan, prioritise and organise my business, and also to support others with these things.
I hope you found this helpful. I’d be really interested to hear about your experiences of leaving the day job to run your own startup or smaller business. What did you learn when making the move? if you want to get involved in this debate, please ask questions or leave comments at the end of this article.