A Career in Management Won’t Prepare You for Running a Startup

April 8, 2016

11:51 am

Ever since the financial crash of 2008, many middle managers were forced out of their jobs. It led to a revolution where the number of people starting their own businesses reached record highs, with startup activity increasing after years of decline. But contrary to what a lot of managers think their previous careers won’t prepare them for running a startup.

Here are some of the main reasons why this is the case.

You Are Not a Leader

It’s a common mistake that managers link their positions with leadership, therefore they will be a good leader for a company. This is not the case at all because managers are not leaders they are merely carrying out the orders filtering down from above.

Entrepreneurs have no orders filtering down from above. They don’t just have to see that orders are carried out they have to make sure that they are coming up with the right orders in the first place. Many former managers have never had such an issue, and so it comes as a mighty shock when they discover they have to possess leadership qualities of their own.

More Than a Manager

Leaders must lead from the front, and that involves wearing many hats. Former managers soon discover that it’s not enough to know how to manage people. They have to act as the marketing department, the financial department, and the product development department all at the same time.

Yes, you can employ people to do all this for you, but at some point you are going to have to take overall responsibility. The gaps in your knowledge will become apparent in the first days of your time running your own business.

Independence Like Never Before

Nobody is going to complain that you didn’t turn up to work on-time. There are no time sheets and you don’t have to check in and out of work. A lot of new entrepreneurs struggle with the idea that they are responsible for absolutely everything. They struggle to operate without all the usual rules and regulations that would come through working for a large, established business.

Total freedom may sound like a good idea, but it can be totally paralyzing in the short-term until you get used to it.

Taking Risks

Entrepreneurship is all about going out and taking risks. The chances are this is not something you are used to as a manager. You are the sort of person who receives orders from above and carries them out. Taking unnecessary risks could cause you to lose your job. Furthermore, you have little reason to risk everything on one decision because it’s not your company.

But all this changes when you start your own business. You have to move from a relatively conservative line of work to a place where you are willing to take risks. You need to be willing to evolve or you are going to stagnate and fall behind your competitors. This is a culture shock for a lot of managers.

Drive and Passion

Most managers work their way up from the bottom after they leave college. They are in a position where they don’t really care about the company they work for because it’s nothing more than a job to them. Entrepreneurs HAVE to do what they do because they want to make their dreams come true, therefore they are willing to do absolutely anything to achieve it.

A lot of people coming from the management profession already have one eye on returning to it when the first opportunity arises. If this is at the back of your mind, you are going to have trouble keeping your focus on the task at hand.

The stand out entrepreneurs must be passionate about what they do. You have to be driven to achieve great things.

Is Management the Right Profession to Come from?

It may seem as if being a manager puts you at a significant disadvantage to becoming an entrepreneur, but this isn’t the case at all. There are many transferrable skills, and you can always learn new ones. The problem is that many managers go into entrepreneurship believing that they are already made for this due to their previous experience, and it comes as a nasty shock that they’re not.

You have to be willing to unlearn some of the behaviors and habits of old if you are going to succeed in this business.

How do you think being a manager prepares you for the world of entrepreneurship?

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AJ Agrawal is an entrepreneur, speaker, and writer. He is the CEO and Co-Founder at Alumnify Inc.

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