The 6 Fatal Flaws of the Traditional Corporate Escape

Kathy Ennis

If you’re stuck in a job you hate or one you no longer enjoy and dream of the transition from employee to business owner, swapping it for the life of an entrepreneur can seem incredibly tempting.

Freedom. Control. Money! 

Not to mention the word “entrepreneur” itself, which sounds so independent and thrilling. 

It’s a word that tells others you’re not a corporate drone. You’re a go-getter who had the courage to leave a job or someone who has grasped redundancy by the collar, so you could make your business dreams come true.

But as someone who’s experienced life on both sides of the fence, I can tell you this: the grass isn’t always greener!

For one thing, becoming an entrepreneur means losing the security that comes with your regular salary, swapping it for all the risk that comes with going it alone.

Suddenly, there are no colleagues around to help you out when things get tough. You’re responsible for EVERYTHING, which can feel as though a rug has been swiftly pulled out from under you. 

That learning curve can feel incredibly steep (and it never seems to straighten out!)

Don’t get me wrong. Making the transition from employee to business owner – via a side-hustle – counts among the best, most exciting experiences of my life. 

But there have been some extremely rough times too, and I’d be lying if I said it was a journey everybody should take.

I’ve worked with lots of start-up founders over the years, which means I’ve seen the same mistakes (some of which I made myself) happen over and over again. 

So, here are six fatal flaws to avoid when transitioning from employee to business owner.

1. Lack of Knowledge and Focus on ‘Business’

You can be amazing at whatever you make or do.

But you’ll also need to have some understanding of the mechanics of business, if you’re going to make the transition from employee to business owner and become a successful entrepreneur.

That’s because running a business involves so much more than designing a logo, setting up a website, and opening a bank account. 

It’s a skillset that involves everything from planning and forecasting, to market research, selling, and ensuring you can attract (and keep!) customers.

RELATED POST: Business Skills: Time to Arm Yourself with the Skills for Success

2. Not Understanding How Long It Takes to Be Profitable

This might come as a surprise, but business isn’t just about making money, it’s also about spending it.

There will be costs associated with things like website design, hosting, and maintenance, marketing, memberships, admin assistance, and so on. 

And that’s before we move on to things like getting customers, which is not guaranteed. And, I hate to say it but it’s an unhappy fact, some people just won’t pay when they say they will (or at all).

Try not to be disheartened if the money doesn’t flow in immediately. Seth Godin once said:

It takes about six years of hard work to become an overnight success

And I can report that he’s right!

3. A Belief That Start-Up Life is More Fun than Challenging

Oh my goodness, I don’t want to sound like a prophet of doom – honestly. But, remember I said that the grass isn’t always greener?

So you think you’re frustrated and challenged at work now, just wait until you’re an entrepreneur!

The transition from employee to business owner can be compared to a rollercoaster ride, with the same exhilarating highs, and the same plummeting lows.

As for free time, what’s that? In the beginning, you’ll be so consumed with business tasks so things like binge-watching on Netflix and (paid) holidays will feel like dusty relics from the past.

Also bear in mind that no-one will pay you for being sick anymore, and you’ll only receive professional development if you can make time (and pay!) for it yourself.

But, would I ever go back to the 9 to 5, even with all these challenges (they never go away, just become easier to manage). No I would not!

4. Thinking “It’s All About Me”

It may not seem this way from the articles and stories you read about popular entrepreneurs, but there’s no room for ego in business.

Your customers must ALWAYS come first. 

That means dedicating yourself to providing the very best service or products possible – and that dedication has to override everything else.

You have one, very simple job as a business owner. It’s to make your customers love your products and services as much as you do. In order for that to happen they need to know, like and trust you. For that to happen, you need to be there for them.

The customer isn’t king (or queen); they aren’t always right. They do need to be nurtured and to feel the love.

5. Being Unprepared for Loneliness

When I started out on my own, I missed the office banter and ‘water cooler’ moments I’d taken for granted in my job.

It took me a while to get used to being on my own for a large part of each day (though not completely alone… my cats now know everything there is to know about running a business!)

You can combat loneliness by getting out and networking, joining a supportive group to chat with, and finding an experienced mentor to business bounce ideas off.

REALTED POST: Don’t Just Sit There! Start Getting More Business (Hint, You Need a Business Mentor)

6. Your Job vs. Your Life

The important thing to remember about having a job is, if you don’t like it, you can always swap it for another one. 

You can also take a holiday, a sabbatical, or a break whenever you choose.

But when you own a business, your life and your work become intertwined, and that’s not always the picture of sunshine and roses some people try to paint!

You could say that being an entrepreneur is like Marmite, in that some people try it and hate it, while others love it so much that they’d never go back to a 9-5.

And, you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. If you give business ‘a go’ and find it’s not for you, going back to work is absolutely OK. The most awful thing would be to feel trapped, or worse, a failure if it doesn’t work for you. You are no such thing. Like Marmite, it’s for some, but not for others.

Here’s An Important Question to Help You Transition from Employee to Business Owner

Has this list of flaws put you off becoming a business owner?

If it has, the lifestyle might not be for you… and that’s OK! There’s no shame in admitting that you’d rather be employed than self-employed.

But if you’re still raring to go for it, it’s time to think hard. 

Don’t view entrepreneurship as an escape from an unhappy job. It can be that, it is also much more. You will need to make some serious adjustment (as we’ve seen.) 

Why not start a side-hustle first, to test your ideas and give yourself a taste of start-up life before jumping in?

Make use of your corporate connections, and don’t burn your bridges by sticking two fingers up to the boss and walking out! 

You never know whose help you’ll end up needing along the way… and one day you may even want to go back.

In the meantime, get some more advice from someone who’s been there and done that. Book a half-hour, complimentary Breakthrough Session with me will help clarify your next – exciting! – steps.