The most difficult part of being a first-time entrepreneur who has just quit a job is to get out of the “employee” mould.
Just a few days back, you were busy working in a specific role as per the KRA provided to you.
Suddenly, you are in a role where there is no clear definition of what you have to do.
You are learning the difference between Employee and Entrepreneur – the hard way.
Obviously, the transition is going to be easier said than done.
In my first venture, it took me months if not weeks to leave behind the Employee Mindset.
One fine day I was an Entrepreneur and the next day I was thinking like an Employee. The Employee vs Entrepreneur mind games made me indecisive.
If you have to do an analysis of the difference between Employee and entrepreneur, you will end up with a list where no point from one side matches the other.
The challenges faced by an Entrepreneur are on a different wavelength than what an Employee faces.
My first and only job lasted a few years. I learned a lot in my first job. Some of the learning from the job is still a part of my daily life. I use them to relate to the employees who work for me.
So when I take a decision, I try to put myself in their boots and then decide ( do they call it empathy? ).
Has it always helped?
Not always. I have taken some very stupid decisions by being over empathetic that have led to me losing money and time.
I had to fine tune myself to understand the difference between entrepreneur and employee.
It was only a matter of time before the transformation happened and this is what I learned during the transformation :
The luxuries you took for granted are no more the luxuries you can afford:
The yucky coffee you threw in the dustbin nonchalantly without even thinking once about the cost is suddenly a cost you want to control.
Earlier, you threw it because you didn’t like the coffee. The taste was too sweet for your taste buds and you went as far as to write a complaint to the HR about the coffee that sucks.
You never gave a damn about the cost. The company was there to take care of your likes and dislikes.
As always entered the office to a well air-conditioned space with AC running even when you were not in the room. I know you hated coming back from outside to a room which was not cool enough to your liking and not to forget the office cab, you took to travel to smallest of distance. (Distances, you could have easily covered using an auto or bus)
Well. What I mentioned above are just very few examples of the luxuries we take for granted working in our over pampering MNCs.
Now you run a bootstrapped business started with your own personal savings.
What happens next is quite predictable.
Suddenly, what was taken care be your boss is your cost.
Now you want to control every damn expense.
All of a sudden there are no luxuries to splurge on. You are always on a lookout to cut office expenses and your expenses (if you are left with any money to spend on them).
Don’t be surprised if the maddening e-commerce sale does not appeal to you. You will be the Hermit away from life’s temptations with only your work to worship.
You will travel by bus-auto-metro. Every cup of coffee thrown by your Employees in the dustbin will be a stone hurled at you.
I won’t be surprised if you will calculate the number of cups wasted every month 🙂
And the coffee is just the tip of an iceberg. Think about electricity cost.
You have no idea How hard I try to keep electricity expense in check in our office. I am sure it can become a case study in itself.
Speaking of electricity, i still cannot forget an incident that had me arguing with our VP.
It so happened. Our electricity bill had hit the roof during summers and i was looking at ways to bring the cost in check.
Now our pampered VP had this bad habit of leaving his cabin’s light and AC switched on.
Not to make a fuss, when i found it switched on and the cabin not being used – i would switch it off. One day, he confronted me (imagine – the audacity) about this so called miser habit of mine.
He said “What kind of Sardar are you? You are always looking to save cost in small thing”.
Now that line of his was way out of line. If only i was in college, someone would have been beaten black and blue. (obviously me. What were you thinking?)
I won’t go into what happened next but yes, it did make me realize the difference between employee and entrepreneur’s thinking process.
The transformations I mentioned above won’t happen easily.
Your pampered life will not be what it used to be.
Learn to brace up to the transformation.
Learning to be “the responsible one”:
As an Employee, you always have someone to look after your failures. You have the manager or a VP or a director there to talk to you if things go south.
Worse. If the screw up done by you is catastrophic, you can just quit the job or get kicked out of the existing job.
Sooner or later market will accept you.
When you are an entrepreneur, every failure has serious repercussions. For a growing company or a startup, your mistakes can lead to immeasurable losses.
If it’s a financial loss – You end up missing your salaries, office rent. Worse, you might not get paid yourself for months.
From being an employee who always has a senior to cover his a**. you will soon be the responsible one who has to cover everyone ‘s a**.
Entrepreneurs are the responsible one. You might be the most responsible employee in your company but in this job, you are responsible for a lot of things which do not come under your “KRA”.
The job responsibilities you will be expected to handle will be way beyond your imagination.
From the job-specific Employee to the all-rounder:
How well do you understand your taxation structure? How do you hire employees without an HR?
Have you ever done sales in your life?
How will you handle the business development team?
Please do not blame Google for not giving you enough information on all this 🙂
Google has its limitations. At the end of the day, Google is just a search engine.
On a serious note, what I wrote above are just a few of the small things you are expected to do.
The heavy lifting where you have to handle the government departments, face disgruntled employees, arrange money for your startup is not even the part of the list.
Now you can’t crib and tell your boss “this is not a part of your profile”.
Mr. Entrepreneur – Everything under the sun is a part of your profile.
And this is the most difficult transformation you will have to make from being “the best of the best employee” to an Entrepreneur who has to know it all.
One of my startups failed because of the allergy I had with numbers. I avoided them. They made me dizzy.
Guess what? The numbers made sure I landed in a ditch with a failed startup.
This is why I keep inability to move outside comfort zone as one of the topmost reason to why startups and small businesses fail.
Swallow your ego. Get out of your comfort zone and learn the tricks of the trade before your venture sees the despicable “closed” sign.
Other than the above, you should be ready to look the other side every time you want to make an expensive purchase. The initial years of your venture won’t give you the luxury of only purchasing necessities. Luxuries are for later years.
Your family can kiss goodbye to the precious “family time”.
And you can officially change your marriage date to the date of incorporation of your company.
Do not forget. Your office is your house.
Employees are your kids and work is your wife.
The article is an extension of the answer I wrote for the question” How is it making a transition from being an entrepreneur to an employee?… on Quora.
And please do not let your stupid mind confuse you with Employee vs Entrepreneur Dangal every time you have to take the tough decision of showing the door to an incompetent employee. You are running a company not a charitable organization.
You are there to feed a lot of families but if you don’t get paid for months, who will feed yours? It is a question we, the entrepreneurs forget to ask ourselves from time to time.
Before I end. Ignore the above lines 🙂
They were written on a very light note (lighter than my bank balance which now stands proudly in double digits).