5 ways to strengthen your entrepreneurial skills as an employee

While the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship become truly tangible only in its daily practice, not everyone needs to start their own business to benefit from its key elements. In fact, embracing the entrepreneurial spirit can increase job satisfaction, whether you plan to venture out on your own someday or simply want a more engaged and satisfying work life.

Here are some of the key entrepreneurial skills that every successful entrepreneur shares:

  • Risk taking
  • Clarity in communication
  • Tenacity
  • Resilience
  • Flexibility
  • Exit plan strategy

If you are an employee, treat your job like your own business, strengthen your entrepreneurial skills, and see where it takes you! I’ve seen many people re-ignite their passion for work with few key changes.

1. Focus on the fact that working at a company is your choice.

One of the most attractive features of entrepreneurship is being your own boss. But it also means you are solely responsible for capital investments, cash flow, every decision (at first) and its ultimate success or failure.

The company that employs you may not be perfect. But the fact remains that you applied for the job, they pay you, and they incur the risks. If you’re unhappy, re-assess if you can make it work for as long as you plan to be there. (See below, #4, on having an exit plan strategy.)

2. Train yourself to consider the scenario from a 360 degree perspective.

For a refreshing (and ethical) change, consider your needs, their priorities, and also your needs from their perspective before asking for changes or a raise.

As a leader, employees come to me and frequently ask for raises in three ineffective ways:

“I need to make more money because my daughter is getting married.” 

What financial sense does it make for a company to increase pay based on personal needs?  Even if you think you have been underpaid, your need for money is not a relevant place to begin.

“I’ve been here for X years and I think I deserve a raise.”

Duration of employment alone is not a sufficient rationale for requesting more money.  Instead, make a list of additional responsibilities, tasks, and/or accomplishments you have acquired since you were hired, and then re-negotiate. Be clear on why you should be paid more based on the job’s requirements and your outstanding contributions.

“You hired someone junior to me and now are paying them more money.”

This is a pervasive issue in corporate America, one that too often builds latent hostility in the workplace. It is incumbent upon you to be honest and address the comparison. 

The boss or company may dismiss your argument, saying it is none of your business, you have incorrect information, or that the new person has additional skills, training or credentials that warrant a higher salary. 

Still, I urge you to come up with a plan to address it or your resentment could build, tipping you into the category of the 68% of Americans disengaged at work.[1]

While all three of these financial appeals may feel true and compelling to you, they don’t appeal to sound business practices, they are emotional in nature, and they don’t promote your high value as an employee.

So what does work?

Don’t complain, persuade! This isn’t the time to whine about how much more everyone else is making more than you or how you take on twice as much work as they do. Even if it’s true, complaining rarely convinces bosses to loosen the purse-strings.” – Balance Careers

3. Instead, get curious about ways you can (or already do) create more value at the company.

This is the million dollar question that also puts you back in the entrepreneurial mindset. Look for ways you can contribute beyond your basic job description. What is the ultimate aim and mission for your company, and how might you, in your capacity, contribute more fully to it?

If you have a good leader, ask to meet with them and brainstorm ways you can increase your value there. Be transparent and authentic in letting them know that you don’t necessarily want their job, but to become better at yours.

If leadership is lacking at your company, you can still decide to take an internal risk. Share more of your ideas, thoughts and creative solutions.

Of course it’s possible your ideas could be dismissed or unwelcome. (This happens to entrepreneurs all the time!) At least you will have tried, and will have strengthened your risk-taking muscles.

4. Assess your immediate supervisor’s intention for you.

If you have a boss who truly wants the best for you, bask in gratitude for the job you currently have.

“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves and spend without fear of bankruptcy.”
-Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

But it is unfortunately true that some leaders feel threatened by go-getters with entrepreneurial spirit. If that is the case and you could experience any kind of sabotage, better to know its likelihood in advance so that you can make a lateral or exit plan.

Life is precious; don’t stay out of fear. Rather, feel the fear, and make a plan: either find another job at the same company or start looking for some other place to shine.

5. Create a nest egg and an exit plan in case your newfound exuberance gets you fired.

Yes, I said this could get you fired. But having 2-3 months’ worth of (untouchable!) living expenses put safely away will give you the confidence to change things up, ask for more, create more, move within your company… or onward!

Either way, you will become more tenacious, resilient, flexible, and more of a risk-taker. Bravo!

The great news…

Most of us spend an inordinate portion of our lives at work. Job satisfaction and engagement ripple through families, changing our lives for better (or worse!), so you owe it to yourself to consider what might improve your current situation. 

If you have the urge to start your own business or a side hustle, don’t wait to find out whether the leap into business ownership is the right fit for you. Use these five tips to try out your entrepreneurial skills while you have the security of a regular paycheck.

Like all things in life, there is no guaranteed outcome for you in shifting your energy, changing your approach or being more tenacious at work. (Be smart with that 3-month nest egg!) Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. But it can call up a more powerful version of you, one whom I believe could very well defy the odds and make it happen.

If all of this makes you cringe, and you simply need to play it safe, there is absolutely no shame. Consider letting yourself be happy with the security of a job and paycheck. You are valuable no matter where you work or what you do. 

Light Your Fire