Many people, especially those who have spent years struggling up the corporate ladder, dream of jumping ship and becoming an entrepreneur. But every job move is fraught with risk, and the move from employee to entrepreneur is on the high end of the risk curve. This is a big jump, especially in an unstable economy, so do your homework first on this one.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review a couple of years ago, "Five Ways to Bungle a Job Change," there are at least five common missteps that professionals make when moving to a new job. I will assert that each of these has a comparable relevance for those of you contemplating leaving a company to create or join an entrepreneurial startup as follows:
These missteps are obviously inter-dependent. When people overvalue themselves, they are prone to stress from job performance feedback and dissatisfaction with compensation. This leads them to jump, without real consideration of the fit and opportunity, into the entrepreneurial world, where they could be even more unhappy.
Every employee needs to evaluate these challenges, since the average baby boomer will have switched jobs 10 times, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The days are gone when we commit early in life to a lifetime career with one company, or a lifetime of entrepreneurship. The business landscape is changing rapidly these days, so we need to be willing to change as well.
A good question to ask before finalizing a change is "What if I'm wrong?" Be ready to cut your losses and move on. Jumping repeatedly to another bad situation is not the answer. In every case, take a hard look at your real strengths and weaknesses. Be willing to listen to an advisor or mentor on how others perceive you, and be willing to correct for those weaknesses.
The most important element is to understand for yourself what elements of a job role are the most satisfying to you, and what constitutes a healthy work-life balance for you. You spend most of your adult life at work. Life is too short to let career missteps make it unhappy.
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