Entrepreneurs are a resilient bunch; when a venture doesn’t work out, it is only a matter of time before they regroup and try another but, occasionally it may be necessary to find “traditional” employment in the interim. Presenting your special entrepreneurial skillsets to a potential employer may seem a daunting task initially, but in reality, the experiences and characteristics of an entrepreneur would be an asset to any organization. Here are 5 traits common amongst entrepreneurs and how to sell them to potential employers:
Companies crave people that are self motivated and driven to achieve results, traits that entrepreneurs have in abundance. The act of starting a business shows that you have the type of initiative that it takes to make stuff happen. You aren’t likely to wait around for a manager to tell you what to do, you see something that needs to be done and do it, period.
Use your resume and interviews to highlight your level of initiative by talking specifically about what problem you were trying to solve when you started your business and how you went about putting those solutions in motion. It doesn’t matter if your business didn’t work out, what matters is you took action and gave it your best shot.
2. Thrive against adversity
Interviewers love asking questions about past failures and how you’ve overcome them. They want to see that you are capable of learning from and owning up to your mistakes and failures. A failed business is perhaps one of the best stories to be able to share in this situation. It is your opportunity to talk about putting a great deal of effort into a venture that didn’t pan out as planned and you take ownership for its failure. You’ll come out looking like a champ that not only doesn’t let setbacks stop you but ultimately learn valuable lessons from them and be strengthened as a person and professional.
3. Ability to be super focused on one thing…
As an entrepreneur you must become a master of your domain. Whatever goods or services your venture sold you were required to really focus and understand your marketplace. The intimate knowledge and domain expertise that an entrepreneur gains running their business is priceless to employers, even if the potential employer doesn’t operate in the same industry as your business. It shows you have the ability to focus and learn the ins and outs of the industry you’re in. Let employers know how you stay up to speed and have developed the ability to zero in on a subject and own it.
4. …but can do everything else too
Part of startup life is wearing the hats of salesperson, marketer, manager, web designer, intern, courier service and janitor. You probably have written blogs, given speeches and developed more than a few proposals. If there is something you don’t know how to do, caffeine and Google will quickly bring you up to speed. Your experiences being a generalist in your venture is highly valuable in today’s job market as we move more into an era of the “super productive” employee. The fact that you know at least a little about a variety of different areas means that not only can you handle jobs outside of your own, but that you understand the better picture of how the different individual functions of a business work together to achieve bigger picture goals.
5. A different perspective
Perspective is everything and entrepreneurs often have a way of looking at things that make tackling complex problems just part of a day’s work. Where some may see adversity or difficulty, the entrepreneur sees opportunity and reward. Running a business teaches you how to make the most out of what is available and how to innovate on the go. It is no wonder the rise of the “intrapreneur” is happening at companies large and small. Let potential employers know about your entrepreneurial lens and how you’ll bring a new perspective to their business.
The unique experience gained from taking the plunge into entrepreneurship is worth wearing as a badge of honor no matter if your venture thrived or not. If the time ever comes where it is necessary to join the workforce, be sure to let your future employer know about the many talents and traits your entrepreneurial spirit will bring into the workplace. They’ll be glad to have you, if even they are just a stop before taking on the challenge of startup life again.
Have you had to take a job while working on your next venture? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Ibrahim is a career switcher, tech consultant and entrepreneur that loves helping people find great careers either through finding the “perfect job” or creating their own. Check out his blog at ialamin.com and follow him on twitter @ialamin (He’ll gladly follow back, just say “Hi”)
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