How Can Senior Executives from Corporates Make the Smooth Transition to Start-ups

While corporates bring with them stability and recognition, start-ups on the other hand are a risky business
How Can Senior Executives from Corporates Make the Smooth Transition to Start-ups
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Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India
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With the success of start-up ecosystem in India, it’s not surprising to find that senior executives of some of the top firms nationally and internationally, are quitting their jobs and taking their decades’ worth of experience to start-ups. While corporates bring with them stability and recognition, start-ups on the other hand are a risky business. But even that hasn’t stopped veterans from taking on the start-up world. The reason? Being part of a start-up brings with it a challenge that they want to conquer.

Whether it is joining an established start-up or leaving a cushioned job to start a new company themselves, we spoke to experts on what are the hurdles a senior executive faces while making the transition to a start-up.

Say Goodbye to Routine

When you are working in a multinational company, the job brings with it various other advantages. There are many perks that come with the job. But coming from a corporate background, one is also used to many processes that are laid down for them. “There is a certain routine or discipline that is currently not there in start-ups. Start-ups have a fluid environment,” said  Shailja Dutt, Founder & Chairperson, Stellar Search.

Agility is Important

While senior executives bring with them a wealth of experience, when it comes to laying down processes in a start-up, it is also important for these executives to have an entrepreneurial mindset. “If not, they struggle in a start-up. There are many things you take for granted in a corporate setup which is not the case in a start-up. Working with constrained resources in a fluid environment, where decisions are changing every day can be difficult for them,” said Dutt. She also believes that executives need to be agile to be able to cope up with the speed of start-ups.

Change Your Mindset

As Dutt mentioned, when one works in a corporate they are used to getting things done by others, but as a senior executive joins a start-up or becomes an entrepreneur, it is necessary to get his/her own hand dirty. “You have to get into the tiny details, you have to sell the product to your first customer or even your first employee. And you have to do it all by yourself,” said Asish Mohapatra, CEO and founder, OfBusiness, who has earlier worked with companies like Matrix and ITC.

Working in a big corporate, a major focus of the senior executive is on Profit and Loss. But this changes now to having a cashflow first mindset. “You will have to change your mindset. There first needs to be cashflow for the business to run and then think about the profit and loss,” said Mohapatra.

Lead By Example

Sometimes in a corporate, one has to work under the shadows. But when it comes to a start-up, there is no way you can escape error or glory. Mohapatra believes that the senior executive has to lead by example. “They are always under the microscope then, which can get challenging,” he said.

Challenges Aside, Focus on the Advantages

Having stated the challenges, experts believe that it is great not just for the senior executive to start afresh by being an entrepreneur but also for the start-up to get on board their experience. The advantages to the same are many. Mohapatra talks from experience, that when a senior executive moves to the start-up ecosystem, he/she brings with him/her a network of valuable contacts. Another essential point he adds is communication. “Being in a corporate scenario, one is used to the life of presentations. So, in the start-up world it comes in handy when you have to pitch to an investor,” he said.

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