How to use your job to get entrepreneurship skills

Happy young shopkeeper [Courtesy]

Most entrepreneurs start their working life as employees. Unlike what many might assume, having a regular 9am to 5pm (9-5) job is one of the best ways to train for entrepreneurship.

A savvy person aspiring to be an entrepreneur can use his or her job to develop skills, expertise, and know-how to successfully run their own enterprises in future.

Whether you’re an employee who is aspiring to be an entrepreneur or a recent graduate considering the pros and cons of both paths, here are some ways you can use your work experience to learn the ropes for entrepreneurship.

Build Your Network

If you’re not a natural extrovert, you may find networking quite awkward. A lot of people would sooner walk on hot coals than engage in small talk.

Networking is, nonetheless, critical to entrepreneurial success. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have to continuously network with people inside and outside their industries.

Having a 9-5 job and being part of an organisation provides a wealth of opportunities for networking with the right people. As an aspiring entrepreneur, use your job to connect with industry thought leaders. Develop a rapport and learn from experts in your field.

Instead of being salesy and self-promotional, you can aim to create value for others. The experts you network with can offer constructive criticism on your business ideas and strategy when the time comes. They can also provide guidance, testimonials, or even invest in your business.

Develop Your Skills

Your job also gives you the opportunity to develop your skills and even gain new ones. If you’re employed by a successful organisation, it offers valuable insights, experience, and expertise that you may apply to your own future endeavours.

Treat your 9-5 job as a learning experience and you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn.  However, don’t just focus on the obvious aspects of the business, such as marketing or sales.

Investigate further to see if you can piece together a better grasp of how a business in your industry operates from all angles, not just the one you’re in charge of.

As an entrepreneur, you will be responsible for most aspects of your business. Take a deep dive into the rabbit hole of running a business. What are the best practices of the human resources department?

How does the finance department operate? What systems are in place to keep the business efficient and scalable? What security measures are in place to protect the business?

You can easily ask to take up related roles to help you build new skills. For example, if you’re in advertising, you can transition to social media marketing.

Try New Ideas Without Personal Risk

Taking risks is part and parcel of being an entrepreneur. That said, you want to be cautious when you are just starting. And honestly, you will probably not have the budget to try some of your ideas in a new business.

As an employee of a more established business, you can get the opportunity to implement some ideas that might be too risky to try on your own.

Bigger companies usually have a budget for testing out innovative ideas. For example, you can try a new advertising campaign strategy. If it works, you can implement it in your own company in future.

Start a Side Hustle

It is easy to spot the entrepreneur in a 9-5 job. They always have a side-hustle. While a regular salary offers security, an aspiring entrepreneur always yearns for the freedom of being their own boss. Many entrepreneurs start their business as a side-hustle while they still have their job.

When you start this way, you’ll still have the security provided by a 9-5 job. If your business is in a related field, you can also use your day job to create relevant networks, build skills, and learn from experts.

While other employees end their work-day at 5pm and have their weekends free, however, you will probably be working pretty much during all your free time.

This will prepare you for the sacrifices you’ll have to make as an entrepreneur – especially in the beginning.

Grow Your Savings

In most cases, entrepreneurs have to rely on their savings to bring their business ideas to life. The best way to save up business capital and get the ball rolling is by saving part of your salary.

Before taking the plunge, you should also have saved enough to cover your household expenses for six to 12 months. Bear in mind that many businesses don’t make a profit in their first year – most of the revenue is put back into the business to fuel growth.

While still holding a regular job, you can also invest your savings into low-risk and moderate-risk ventures to grow your capital.

Instead of spending your money on liabilities, this is the time to save and invest as much as possible in preparation for entrepreneurship.