It takes a special kind of person to be a successful entrepreneur, but most likely you, like everyone else started working for someone else. Whether it was grilling burgers at a fast food joint in high school before starting your own web hosting company in college or spending decades climbing the corporate ladder at mega companies, there are some not-so-good corporate qualities that seep into many entrepreneurs.
Maybe they served you in your previous career (or maybe they didn’t). However, as an entrepreneur, it’s vital to assess each assumption, skill and habit you’ve formed from prior work experiences to see if you should keep them, ditch them or turn them into something else.
Here are four common entrepreneurial killers from your career past that might have outlasted their usefulness:
1. “Keep moving up the ropes.”
When you’re an entry-level employee, you’re asked when you’ll be promoted to the next tier. When you’re the junior sales rep, you’re asked when you’ll move up to plain sales rep. When you’re the vice president? People ask about your eventual move to president. As an entrepreneur, you can’t think of success in terms of promotion and constantly scrambling up proverbial ladders. You need to know your strengths. Maybe it’s as an active manager, maybe it’s as a silent founder or, maybe, you genuinely enjoying pounding the pavement alongside your own employees.
You define success. It’s your company, your employees, your career and your life.
2. “What separation of work and life?”
The daily grind can really get to you, especially in a mobile ready world where it’s easy to be “on the job” 24/7. Responding to work emails at midnight, scheduling investor meetings on Saturdays and generally working around the clock has become the norm in some cracks of corporate America.
This didn’t benefit you when you were an employee and it won’t benefit you as an entrepreneur. Work hard? Of course. Play hard? It actually doesn’t matter how you play, just as long as you schedule some down time that’s entrepreneurial pursuit-free.
3. “I deserve a (really, really long) vacation.”
Alternately, there are some corporate companies which are offering sabbaticals to the tune of 90 days. There’s a renewed push towards taking every single vacation day offered and maximizing those “mental health” days. While a break is a must no matter what your career, for an entrepreneur, taking long vacations just isn’t doable, at least not yet.
My long-time friend and entrepreneur Qais Al Khonji says, "Be realistic in your down time. Take four days off during the winter holiday, or an annual weekly escape if you can swing it. Even in countries that have many more holidays, new endeavors require someone steering the ship. If you're not pushing your company 24/7, who will be?"
The reality is that the vast majority of start-ups fail, even more so when nobody is there.
If you’re not manning the ship, you can't be surprised when it runs aground.
4. “I hate my job.”
Whether you’re in corporate America or an entrepreneur, nobody loves their job 100 percent of the time. However, if this is a regular thought, it is time to change things. Working for the man and miserable every day is no way to live, even if you're the man.
If that is what you're thinking at your job, plan an exit strategy that includes a nest egg and next plans. An entrepreneur who has felt this way for several months needs to reassess if being an entrepreneur is really what will make you happy, or if this particular venture is the right fit.
Bringing baggage from a past relationship (even if it’s a professional one!) can be detrimental to long-term happiness and success. Unfortunately, we all have it. How well you package and store that baggage makes a world of difference.