Surviving the Transition from Employee to Entrepreneur

Business advice
Estimated read time: 4 mins
Published: 27/01/2016

Giving up the day job and going solo isn’t easy, but changing your mindset from employee to entrepreneur can help you to make that switch! Here are six tips for ensuring you stay on the ball and stand the greatest chance of success when you make the leap.

How To Transition From Employee To Entrepreneur

1. Prioritise and say no

When working under a manager and alongside your coworkers, saying ‘yes’ to every request becomes largely second-nature. Having a ‘nothing is too much trouble’ attitude may have made you a valued employee, but it can cost you as an entrepreneur. You need to prioritise your time and resources – in fact, you need to start treating your time like the resource that it is! If things are going to plan in your entrepreneurial endeavour, you shouldn’t have time to say yes to everything: when you know what you need to accomplish, and when you need to do this by, you will see that you’re not going to be able to please everyone. Accept this now before it costs you, some decisions are going to be brutal but if it’s not one of your priorities, just say no.

2. Aim for excellence, don’t wait for perfection

If you’re a bit of a perfectionist, you won’t last as an entrepreneur, so it is best to shake that off straight away. There isn’t the time to dedicate to all of the various modifications and revisions you may wish to make, or someone else will get there before you. This doesn’t mean you should settle for second bet, you need to be aiming for excellence or no customer/client will be happy with you. But the ideal of a perfect product only leads entrepreneurs to strive away at the slightest of changes, wasting the time they could be spending on promoting their excellent product and getting feedback to make more useful changes further down the line. You want to make the big changes which will have the largest impact, aiming to tweak that last 5% will drain your resources, call it ‘done’ and get in with it.

3. Prepare for the long haul, alone

There are some misguided people who hear snippets about the lifestyles of successful entrepreneurs and think that it is all about sipping cocktails and replying to emails from a hammock on a beach. If that is what you want out of life that’s fine, but you have to earn the right to live that way. Rather than only spending a few days in your home-office in which you do a couple of hours work, get ready for the prospect of working from 8am-midnight, if not longer, scheduling in a 6-hour sleep when you’re lucky. After all, this is why entrepreneurs are advised to pursue what they love – because if you didn’t love it you sure as hell wouldn’t stick to it!

The entrepreneurial lifestyle isn’t always as social as some people imagine either. When working in an office you get used to having certain people around you. There were those you could chat to about the weekend’s events, others you could depend on for a little help every now and then, and there’s always an office-clown there to make everyone laugh. This can make the first week or so of going solo an even scarier prospect. Do what you can to overcome this isolation. Don’t only work from home, or you will drive yourself crazy. Find a co-working space you can set up at, especially if there are flexible or pay-as-you-go payment options which are ideal for when you’re just starting up, and then attend lots of local networking events!

4. Take responsibility – the book stops with you

Speaking of isolation, get ready for a situation in which there is no one to blame but yourself. You are the boss and you are the work-horse, there is no point in trying to blame somebody else because you are the only one who can take control of the situation. Be ready to bear this added weight. As an entrepreneur you have the opportunity to change the world, but you know how the quote goes: “with great power, comes great responsibility”. You will need to make the big decisions, you will need to clearly outline your priorities, and then you are solely responsible for ensuring that these priorities are met. The opportunities you have may only present themselves for a short amount of time, you need to grasp them with both hands and chase them as far as you can – if you don’t get there, you only have yourself to blame.

5. Think about the short and long term, and do it now

When you are ultimately responsible for your business’s results, you need to ensure you are focusing on the long and short term plans simultaneously. This means taking on more than you have previously, when most of your focus will have been on delivering short-term results for the company your are employed by. Think about what could go wrong and what opportunities may present themselves, always have one foot in the present and another far in the future. If there is any uncertainty, you need to plan this in, it could be your downfall if you don’t. What do or don’t you have right now and how could this impact you in the future both near and far?


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