How to get the most out of your corporate experience

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You may be in the awkward stage of entrepreneurship:  realizing that you want to start your own business yet not feeling quite prepared to venture out on your own.  This is the perfect opportunity to get the most out of your corporate experience so that you gain momentum toward your goal but still secure your basic needs with a stable salary and benefits.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Through your research,define in as specific terms as possible what knowledge, skills, experience, money, connections and partners you will need  to create your own business.  Examples:  I will need $25,000 of out-of-pocket capital to start up my new business. I need to develop skills in cost accounting.  I need to know everything there is to know about marketing to middle-aged customers in the Chicago area. I need the experience of coaching at least 5 people for a minimum of 3 months.  I need to meet people who have connections with textile factories in Thailand.
  2. Look for ways to develop  these required skills in your corporate job.  You may need to stretch out of your regular job responsibilities by participating in a committee, special project or volunteer effort on behalf of your company.  Learning opportunities are everywhere in corporate environments if you just look for them.
  3. Change your mindset from employee to entrepreneur.  It doesn’t matter if someone else still provides your paycheck, you can choose to be an entrepreneur by the way you approach your job.  Learn about how your company makes money and manages its people, resources and technology.  You may be surprised that it isn’t as easy as it seems.
  4. For god sakes, stop your whining.  As fun as it can be, complaining about how much you hate your corporate job will sap the energy you need to put into your new venture.  Cultivate a demeanor of gratitude for what you have, and you will find it carries you a long way.  Plus you won’t be such a drag to be around anymore! 

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