Transitioning From the Secure Corporate Nest to Entrepreneur Digs Every executive making the leap from a resource-rich company to a startup den should know these five things.

By Pat Dermody

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Anytime someone moves up the corporate ladder and assumes more responsibility, the change presents new opportunities and potential problems. Nowhere is this more evident than when an executive makes the switch from a job at an established corporation to one at a startup.

In moving from one company to another, there's always a learning curve. But while any new job can be daunting, transitioning from working at a company replete with financial and personnel resources to one that's still carving out a niche presents a whole different set of challenges and opportunities.

I discovered this when I left a Fortune 100 company to join Retale. Here are a few tips that can help you hit the ground running as an executive at a startup:

Related: 8 Ways Rookie CEOs Can Succeed Faster

1. Use experience to your advantage.

Remember the great lessons that helped you build your professional foundation, hone your instincts and manage various situations while you climbed the corporate ladder? Well now more than ever is the time to put them to use.

Jumping into the deep end of the entrepreneurial pool does not mean forgeting everything learned previously. Use that very foundation to overcome or avoid the pitfalls that might stump a less experienced entrepreneur.

2. Remember that no one has to listen to you anymore.

At an established company, a manager might find herself in an enviable position when it comes time to choosing a vendor as suppliers clamber and compete for the business.

The same cannot be said for an executive at a startup. Now you often will be the one charged with drumming up new relationships and generating sales for a new product or service offered by your fledgling company. Thus remember to be humble and put to use the negotiation tools that you learned from being on the other side of the table.

Related: Mindfullness and the Startup CEO

3. Be prepared to carry more weight.

You might think that the always-on executive life of constantly checking email and being reachable even on a vacation may have prepped you for anything.

In a startup environment, however, not only will you be attached to work but also especially bonded to the people who have joined you. The realization that they may have changed course, risking their careers and livelihoods to join your company, will instill in you a personal commitment to their success.

4. You'll need all the energy you can muster.

There's no way around the fact that startup life is exhilarating and exhausting on all fronts: physical, intellectual and emotional. Given the world of startups has no catch-up days and no meetings that you can miss, you must be ready to go all out every day to achieve success in a rapidly evolving business world.

Sustaining this high level of energy over a long period of time is a necessity. So individuals thinking about a move into the startup world must be dedicated to keeping up a sprint over the long haul.

5. Consider yourself lucky.

While the startup world is hectic and demanding, if you have the chance to be an entrepreneur after building a corporate career and have found the right venture, go all in.

Sure, you might have to do some things differently and recalibrate some behaviors, but the opportunity to take a project from the idea stage to its final execution doesn't come around that often. You'll also get a chance to challenge yourself in ways you probably thought would never happen. Nothing could be more gratifying than that.

Related: 10 Apologies I Will Never Again Make as a Startup CEO

Wavy Line
Pat Dermody

President, Retale

Pat Dermody is president at Retale and has 20 years of experience in agency and client-side marketing, brand strategy and retail marketing. Previously she served as vice president of media buying for digital and social networking at Sears Holdings Corp.

Editor's Pick

A Father Decided to Change When He Was in Prison on His Son's Birthday. Now His Nonprofit Helps Formerly Incarcerated Applicants Land 6-Figure Jobs.
A Teen Turned His Roblox Side Hustle Into a Multimillion-Dollar Company — Now He's Working With Karlie Kloss and Elton John
3 Mundane Tasks You Should Automate to Save Your Brain for the Big Stuff
The Next Time Someone Intimidates You, Here's What You Should Do
5 Ways to Manage Your Mental Health and Regulate Your Nervous System for Sustainable Success

Related Topics


3 Ways Work-From-Anywhere is Redefining Travel

Three trends to thrive in the newly-created "bleisure" travel segment.

Business News

Mark Zuckerberg Delivers Dorky Diss of Apple's Pricey New Headset

The CEO let his Meta team know what he thinks about Apple's Vision Pro, and he did not hold back.

Business News

Meta Unveils Twitter Competitor to Offer People a 'Sanely Run' Platform

The company is in talks with Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama regarding commitments to the app.

Business News

Hedge Fund Pays NYC Interns $20,000 a Month on Average, Sent to Lavish Palm Beach Kickoff

Citadel is known for its over-the-top parties and company retreats.

Business Ideas

Top 25 Side Hustles to Make Money During Summer 2023

While the weather is warm, there are numerous ways to earn additional income. It is even possible to make money year-round with many of these ideas. But, here are the top 25 side hustles to make money during the summer.