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If Entrepreneurship doesn’t work out?

I am mentoring Mike. Mike is 28, bright, hardworking and seems destined for success. After his first ventured flamed, he found other work. We all know that most entrepreneurial ventures end with failure, but I think this time, Mike will beat the odds.

We meet every few weeks to review the progress Mike makes in building his internet marketing business which reimagines local snack items. In our sessions, I have got Mike to be much more specific what he does, the strategy, and the results. This way he is able to correlate action with results so that we can have a productive discussion on sales performance. He is building a performance dashboard and is becoming “unconsciously competent” about managing his little business.

Mike doesn’t have the luxury of building the business as a hobby, so it needs to take-off, and soon. What if it doesn’t take off? Mike needs to have other options, so we have a plan-B, and actually, a plan-C, since they both are built on the same skills, or what I call self-efficacy.

Plan-B and C, which work for Mike, both personally and professionally are;

  1. He offers his expertise to other brand owners, who are interested to go online – many business owners want to go omnichannel. Last week Mike landed his first trial customer.

  2. Having accumulated specific knowledge, Mike could consider an executive marketing position.

Entrepreneurs that I talk to, tend to have the entrepreneurship only mindset. That’s what I call “0, or 1” mindset – binary. It's pretty black or white. Try this and if doesn’t work, well we will think about what to do after. That’s silly. We shouldn’t be stuck with binary thinking – this road or nothing.

I find that young entrepreneurs are not doing enough to be visible to recruiters. For a start, many are not present on LinkedIn, still a powerful tool used by recruiters. Then, in listening to them, I find many entrepreneurs are not building deep skill sets – there is no deep dive to solve a problem. Finally, some young entrepreneurs tell me they “can’t work in corporations” or they don’t want to have a boss. If you have a mindset of “I need to be the boss” this will come through to an experienced interviewer and they won’t call you back.

As a young entrepreneur rejoining the workforce, you are likely not going for a managerial position, so generalist skills are not in demand. In fact, I would argue that except for very senior positions, there are limited opportunities for generalists. Today, if you want a job, you need to have specific skills. In 9 Entrepreneurisms, we call this Self-efficacy.

My advice to young entrepreneurs is to build your skills, or self-efficacy and hold back the “I need to be the boss” thinking. Go out and build a great business, but if you don’t, develop deep skills, make sure you appear on the radar of the recruiters, and success will come to you in a different form.

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