Opinion
Escaping from formal employment to entrepreneurship
Publish Date: Aug 05, 2014
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By Enoth Mbeine

Today, we are increasingly witnessing many organisations that are laying off their workers. We have recently read about Air Uganda and Uganda Red Cross Society.

The evidence that the performance of many of these organisations is struggling, and that employment will suffer are almost everywhere. Many of these organisations that have laid off workers are trying to cut costs in order to dig the organization out of a hole or make it more profitable.

And for the managers of these organizations, making the decision to let some of its employees go is usually one of their toughest tasks they face.

So, if you are one of those feeling frustrated and unfulfilled, and are stuck in this uncertainty, which is sucking your life away, or have faced the knife, then you need a “corporate escape”. You could also be looking to embark on a new career, or you want to overcome redundancy after being laid off, or you would like to take on a more personal challenge, then you need to have a dynamic shift in your mindset.

 Maite Baron, a UK author of “The Corporate Escape’ has helped us to discuss the mindset shifts that are required to leave the constraints of ‘employee thinking’ behind to look at progressing in your career and business.

Unlike many employees who work for others, entrepreneurs are normally in charge of the future success they will enjoy and the failures they will experience.

For example, if you have recently lost a job, going for entrepreneurship can either be terrifically liberating, or an overwhelming responsibility, in which case one must acquire a different mindset that enables you to see the world through a business owner’s eyes.

First of all, Maite Baron emphasizes that we should learn how to set our own priorities and take complete personal responsibility for all our actions rather than blame others when things go wrong. An entrepreneur does not have the luxury of being able to pass the buck: Once you open up a business, you have got to carry the cross all the way.

Faced with the dilemma to jump into entrepreneurship, we should be quick to make decisions. At this stage it is important to become a master of implementation.  You will need to understand that you cannot wait for things to happen. So while ongoing learning is important, to be a successful business owner requires you to take action – and more frequently. With no one to tell you what you should do, each morning you must wake up with a plan, not only for the day-to-day management of your business, but also for moving you ever closer to your personal and professional goals.

Losing a job comes with a lot of emotions. You might think that the world has come to an end! It is important to start thinking of a big picture and see yourself as the business owner you want to become. In your previous job, it was very easy to become embroiled in issues of getting things done, filling in paperwork, making reports, dealing with difficult clients etc. While you still cannot ignore essential details, as an entrepreneur you need to think beyond the obvious and the small, so that you spot both the opportunities and constraints that lie ahead. You need to start spending more time on ‘big things’ or “thinking big” which will in turn accelerate your business success.

All hope is not lost if you have faced the sack. Always aim for progress not security. Be willing and ready to embrace change. When you are an employee you become accustomed to the status quo, so when things change uncertainty follows. At its worst, this could even mean that redundancy follows. However, the entrepreneurial mindset not only must seek out change, but in fact encourage it to happen because only by doing this can opportunities be created and leveraged.

At this stage, be ready to step outside your comfort zone. Think out of the box. Running your own show isn't easy. There’s no place to hide, and that means that from time to time you will have to do things that you don't like. The entrepreneurial mindset has to be ready to take on the role of debt collector, disciplinarian, or salesperson, and all manner of other jobs as well. This can often mean pushing yourself beyond what you're used to, but only by doing this will you go beyond mediocrity and achieve excellence.

When you finally decide on which business to go into, don’t try to please everybody. Unique or niche marketing is now the new thing which can be a  key to your success these days, so creating a recognizable personal brand that makes you unique in your market place will ensure you stand out from the crowd. Avoid me-to businesses.

Also at this stage, we should also aim at being competitive. Only by setting ourselves ever-higher measures of success, will we push our business forward. Let us not measure our success by comparison with others, as this can lead us to make the wrong decisions.

Many times, we ask ourselves this question: Can anyone acquire an entrepreneurial mindset after years of working only for others? The answer is yes, if only we choose to and are determined enough.

But we need to be mindful of not wanting to be over ambitious! We shouldn’t try and transform ourselves all at once after losing a formal job. It is ideal to place emphasis on just one or two areas at a time and work to improve in these. It is need recommended that we continually monitor our performance, so that we become more aware of when we are falling back into old ways of thinking.

Once we do this more consistently, and over time we will find that our mindset is no longer that of an employee but of a true entrepreneur!

The writer is a senior consultant with FIT Uganda Ltd

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