Forbes Insight: How to move from employee to entrepreneur


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Scaling your life further from a receiver of opportunity to a provider is one of the greatest decisions you will ever make. Hustle24 brings you this article by award-winning Robyn Shulman of Forbes Magazine. It will help shape your vision and keep you ‘fired-up’ to manage the challenges that all entrepreneurship journeys are fraught with.

Whether you’ve been bouncing ideas back and forth regarding the launch of a business, right now may be a good time for you to move forward. However, if it’s not the right time, and you have future plans and dreams, this article may help you decide if you should move from employee to entrepreneur.

Becoming an entrepreneur is not something mythical; it is a massive change in lifestyle. It is also much different than working for a company, and can be more demanding.

Robyn Shulman won Linkedln’s #1 top voice in education award in 2018

If you’ve delayed starting a business because you haven’t figured out how to take a mental leap from employee to entrepreneur—these tips should help you.

Here are a few high-level pointers you should think about before starting your own company.

Learn How To Think Horizontally Rather Than Vertically

This type of change in mindset usually applies to those who come from large companies or the nonprofit world—where employees do one or a couple of different tasks following specific boundaries. Today In: Small Business

Also, employees are usually trained in a few focus areas—they don’t typically need to know how to run an entire organization from top to bottom.

For example, if you’ve worked as a teacher, you are probably great at working with kids, parents and creating engaging lesson plans. However, if you’re a teacher right now, you might not understand the importance of things such as customer service, paying the bills, creating a legal entity, payroll, taxes, legal processes, human resources, and strategic management. When you become an entrepreneur—especially when you start out on your own, you must be able to learn and function in all of these areas mentioned above

Life-Long learning

Many people don’t think of learning and business as an all-encompassed process. However, if you’re going to keep up with the pace of business life, you must be willing to consistently learn and up-skill. You will need to pay attention to what changes in the world because today with technology—it’s moving faster than most can keep up.

If you’re just starting out, LinkedIn Learning andCoursera offer many online business courses so you can keep on learning.

For example, right now, if you type the phrase “entrepreneurship,” in LinkedIn Learning, you’ll find they have 66 courses on the topic of entrepreneurship. For example, a few popular courses include:

  • “Start a Side Hustle”
  • “Creating a business plan”
  • “Entrepreneurship Foundations”
  • “Entrepreneurship: Raising Startup Capital”

From their site, LinkedIn Learning also has a section called “Small Business and Entrepreneurship.”

They state, “Whether you’re building a company or working as a freelancer, acquire the skills you need to manage your business, sell your products and services, and create a business strategy to help you achieve your goals.” Also, you’ll find specific niche courses that focus on design, music, finance, small business management, and more.

It can be a new challenge to think from the scope of an entire company’s lens. Unless you’ve worked long enough in large corporations and took part in the process of building out a company, you will most likely have a lot to learn. Take advantage of as many tools and resources that are out there to help you.

If you have experience in the startup world, you may find the transition a bit easier due to past experience.

Working Alone

Many people start a business alone or join up with a friend or colleague. Working alone or with someone you can trust is a good way to begin. You’ll also have to learn how to think from an encompassing manner rather than solely as a role-based employee.

Working alone is not always the right choice for everyone. You have to be comfortable working in a quieter environment, and you have to be significantly self-motivated. 

When you work in a company, other people surround you every day, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, your workplace can become an integral part of your social life. Going into work every day can be similar to going to school, where you follow a particular pattern, schedule, and create long-lasting relationships. With a life of entrepreneurship, you will definitely find a pattern that can feel all over the place until you’ve established the right routine.

Remember that moving into entrepreneurship can be a lonely place, so try and get out to work in coffee and lunch shops, so you don’t get too stuck in your own head. 

Also, you can always join entrepreneurial groups, rent out shared workspace, and continue to network both live and online to alleviate feelings of isolation. 

Finally, having access to a successful entrepreneur as a mentor can be extremely helpful for your personal and business success.

Focus Your Energy Within The Right Areas

Focusing your energy on the right audience who needs your service is critical to finding the right clients. However, if your company only places emphasis solely on gaining new customers, and not keeping the ones you already have happy—you may run into some heavy losses. 

Also, one major mistake entrepreneurs make is believing everyone will want their product or service. Take your time and do some market research—just because you love something or believe it’s necessary, doesn’t mean your prospective buyers will agree.

When you are an employee, you don’t have to worry so much about clients and customer growth unless that is your sole role. As an entrepreneur, customers and clients come and go, and there is no guarantee that they will stay or come back. 

Financial Risks

Keep in mind that finding the right time in your life to start a company matters. Someone should have your back financially for some time. You may not be able to take an entrepreneurial risk when you have a family. However, you can start something small, such as a side-gig that might pick up with excellent, unexpected speed. 

When you are an employee, receiving your paycheck every two weeks almost moves on autopilot. When you’re not an entrepreneur, all bets are off as you start your new adventure. 

Realize that you are the primary source of your new income. Although this can be a challenge, it can also be exciting at the same time. 


As an employee, sometimes (not always), your job can feel like you’re just going through the motions to get through the day. The energy you need to have as an owner is vastly different because you are in growth mode. In the beginning, you wear all hats, but once your business starts to take off, you’ll be surprised where you can land. 

Whether you’re starting your own business or joining a startup, be prepared to work a bit more, get a lot of exercise, and sleep and eat well.

Most importantly, don’t forget to take care of your mental health because entrepreneurship can be taxing from every angle.

Your customers and employees will look to you for guidance, commitment, and passion. Just like a teacher, you are on most of the day.

Although this can be draining at times, if you feel ready and willing to make these changes in your mindset, you might already be prepared to start the business you’ve always wanted. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka writes with simplicity and insight. He aims to enrich the Nigerian small business landscape. Through Hustle24 he connects entrepreneurs with information about new policies, enterprise solutions and opportunities that will aid their 'hustle'. He has written extensively for CobraReview, a product review portal, and served as a lead project manager for MarketingMix where he consulted as PR consultant for MTN Project Fame and Business Next Titan etc.


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