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Treat Your Corporate Job as an Entrepreneurial Training Program

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Summertime is the season of sunshine, warm weather and the seasonal college intern. Which led to the thought: What if you treated yourself as an entrepreneurial internship within your company?

Aspiring entrepreneurs could learn valuable lessons within a corporation that would help you develop the skills, expertise and know-how you’ll need to successfully run your own company one day. Working for a company before starting out on your own can give you many benefits that are worth considering.

Related: 9 Lessons You Won't Learn in Business School

Whether you’re an employee looking to transition to entrepreneurialism or a recent graduate considering the pros and cons of both paths, here are three ways a corporate job can actually help you become a better entrepreneur:

1. Set up a transition buffer. If you are truly just starting out in your industry and need to acquire the skills, experience and contacts necessary to successfully run a startup, working for a company first can be extremely useful. Not only will it help you build your credentials, but financially it can ease the transition into your niche while allowing you access to consistent cash flow and benefits. Bolstering your savings and coming up with your own money to start your business is one possible way of financing your future startup.

However, while a regular paycheck can be a great way to build your savings it can also be an alluring pacifier. If you plan to work for a company as a stepping-stone to your entrepreneurial endeavors, write out a plan or road map for the skills you plan to gain and the amount of savings you’ll need before leaving. Then stick to your plan. Don’t forgo your entrepreneurial dream for a steady paycheck if it’s not a part of the plan.

Related: 5 Important Business Lessons I Learned From My First Job

2. Get on the job training. Turn your day job into the learning opportunity you need to gain valuable training and knowledge. Successfully-run companies have valuable insights, experience and organization that you can learn from and apply to your own future pursuits.

Treat your job like a training ground and watch how much you discover. Don’t just pay attention to the obvious parts such as marketing or sales, either. Look deeper and see if you can piece together a better understanding of how a business runs from all aspects, not just the one you’re responsible for running.

When you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll be responsible for the whole organization, so you need to think like a founder now. What do you know about the best practices of the human-resources department? How is the finance department run and what are the company's billing policies? What systems does the company operate to keep the business scalable and efficient? What security measures do they have to protect the network and their business?

You can take a deep dive down the rabbit hole of running a business by exploring how a company works from the inside as an employee, if you take the opportunity to learn everything you can.  

3. Building a valuable network. Often times as a startup entrepreneur, you aren’t going to have access to the influential people and resources you need. However, as an employee at the right company,  you’ll be able to work with all manner of business contacts as part of your job.

While you should never abuse your contacts, the friendships and relationships you make as a corporate employee may very well transfer over to your new pursuits as an entrepreneur. Expand your influence and relationships through the corporate network that wouldn’t necessarily be accessible to you as a startup entrepreneur.

Related: 50 Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur

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