How to Go From Entrepreneur to Employee Again
If you've found yourself wanting to transition back to corporate, take the proper steps.
Many entrepreneurs talk about how working for themselves for too long has made them “unemployable” and say they could never go back to a 9-5. Yet for whatever reason — be it a thirst for new experiences or the stress of keeping your afloat business 24/7 — plenty of people do decide to make the transition back to corporate.
If you’ve found yourself in this position, you’ll probably know you have no shortage of skills and talent to offer a company, but that doesn’t make the switch any less daunting. Going from being your own boss and always having the final say to reporting to somebody else is a major change, and if you’ve been outside the corporate world for a while, you might worry that you won’t be able to fit in seamlessly.
To help guide you through the journey, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
Focus on finding the right fit
As a current entrepreneur, you have a unique advantage in your job search: You already have a steady income source, so you don’t face an immediate rush in securing the right role. Instead, you may be able to afford to take a little more time to find the perfect fit.
Throughout your time working for yourself, you’ve probably built up some strong ideas about how you work best, which kinds of skills you’d like to develop and what your greatest interests are. Take the time to write down what your ideal career situation looks like for you and don’t settle for anything less.
Did you know that the average time it takes for a person to find a new role is about five months? You’re not a failure if you’re still struggling after a month or two (especially if you’re also running your business while you’re searching). Having said that, there’s some value behind going full steam ahead and trying to get the position you want as quickly as possible.
Consider a coach
A coach can help you figure out the kind of role you’re looking for and create a solid process for finding it. As an entrepreneur, you may have been “out of the loop” or on the “other side of the desk” for a while, and you may have an outdated idea of what the typical hiring process for someone at your level looks like.
Regardless, a coach is a perfect choice for bridging this gap and helping you find a job much faster. Coaches are particularly useful for professionals making a significant career switch, and going from entrepreneur to employee certainly falls under that bracket. They can get you up to speed on the latest interview techniques, walk you through the hiring process and give you the feedback you need to show up in a way that appeals to companies.
Many coaching programs might also include initiatives to help you improve your skills, such as networking, practice interviews, group work with other job seekers or automated systems.
But how can you find the right person? This will always depend on the person — some people benefit from a high-energy coach who can motivate them through the grueling process of interviews, while others prefer someone more methodical who can get straight to the point.
Most decent coaches will give you a free consultation first, which is your opportunity to ask them about the specific processes they follow.
Don’t over-emphasize your entrepreneurial experience
Most entrepreneurs are very proud of their background in creating their own companies successfully, so it’s only natural to want to highlight this when applying for jobs or talking to potential employers.
But while your entrepreneurial skills are an asset, some employers might be concerned that your background and attitude mean you’re not much of a team player and may struggle to work with others or follow instructions.
You might argue that these types of companies are simply the wrong fit and you’d prefer to work with an organization that values your entrepreneurial approach rather than suppressing it. It's also important to be realistic. A company is hiring you to be an employee and not a founder, so they want someone who is good at teamwork and communication.
However, the good news is that your background could give you an edge — a recent survey has found that the most sought-after skills for businesses include taking initiative and adaptability. These are two things entrepreneurs should shine at. So, try to frame your background as a crash course in becoming adaptable and self-sufficient, but be sure to emphasize that you’re excited to work in a team and collaborate.
Related: 10 Secrets to Finding a Job You Love
Time to own it
Creating and running a business is something that not everyone can do — chances are, if you can get to grips with that, you can also master rejoining the corporate world. It might be a shock to your system at first to fill out applications and carry out interviews again, but if you adopt the right attitude and follow the right process, there’s no reason to think you won’t see success.
Just make sure you have clarity about what you really want from a corporate role, and then create an action plan for how you’re going to get there. It might happen sooner than you expected.
Related: How to Find a Job During a Pandemic
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor