Why Talented Entrepreneurs Struggle When Jumping the Corporate World

October 25, 2017

7:15 am

Before flying solo, many entrepreneurs spend decades in their industry working with high prestige players. They know what their services are worth, and their corporate salary reflects it well. They’re effective, and their team knows it.

For some, flying solo becomes an immediate and unexpected struggle. Without the safety net of being supported by a reputable corporation, some find it hard to get off the ground.

Being an expert in your industry doesn’t guarantee you can build a successful business from scratch, they’re two different skillsets. Until entrepreneurship is taught in schools, you’ll need to learn through action.

The following are a few bits of wisdom I’ve learned along my entrepreneurial journey that I wish someone had shared with me before I jumped into the unknown:

Be Aware of Implied Agreements

Every moment you interact with someone, implied agreements are being made. There’s no way around it, it’s human nature. While an explicit agreement is formed through a conversation, implied agreements are assumptions. These assumptions aren’t always consciously created, either.

For instance, say your best friend always makes up the couch for you after a late night out with friends. Their actions likely created an implied agreement that you’ve got an open invitation to stay over each time you stay out late. You wouldn’t even consider that your friend might not let you stay. Until you start unpacking your pillow and your friend says you have to go home.

Although there never was an explicit agreement, you’ll still be upset. This is how implied agreements work. Nobody knows they’re in place until the rules change and someone feels deceived.

It’s imperative to watch for, and correct, even the slightest potentially implied agreement with your clients. For example, say you’ve always allowed your clients to pay their invoices monthly, but suddenly need to request weekly payments. In your world, you’re just making a business decision. In their world, you’ve changed the rules of your relationship and their trust will be shaken.

This even applies to industries where rules are expected to change. As outlined in an article titled, “Tips for Raising the Rent While Keeping Tenants,” there are valid reasons for raising the rent, and tenants know it’s a possibility. Inflation, tax hikes, neighborhood changes, and the need to remain profitable are always possibilities. The fact that the industry works this way won’t stop a tenant from making assumptions that rent will never go up, and feeling crossed when it does.

The only way to avoid this is to make it very clear that you’re a business person and you make decisions based on what’s best for your business.

From this perspective, I finally understood why some people don’t allow a grace period for late invoices and spend time collecting $10 late fees. It’s not about the money, it’s about mitigating future problems and assumptions.

Be Yourself

This sounds cliché, but it’s important and can’t be emphasized enough. Being yourself is the most important ingredient to success. Don’t compromise on your values in order to make money, or hold a partnership together. Let people go when they’re not a match. Allow yourself the freedom to change your mind and make decisions for yourself.

Pursue Your passionate and Nothing Else

Forget about the money. You can make money anywhere. Why are you jumping the corporate ship and venturing out on your own? What passion is fueling you forward? So don’t start swimming until you have the answer.

In my experience, passion is the only good reason to go into business. Otherwise, when things get rough (and they will), you’ll have nothing to push you forward. Your passion guarantees you’ll see your project through to the end, even if it goes up in flames. If you’re in it to make money, you’ll be easily distracted by other opportunities and you’ll never give it your all.

Read more inspiration for entrepreneurs at TechCo

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Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, iMediaConnection.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. When she isn't writing, she's outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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