When it comes to learning on the job, lessons aren’t confined to those who want to boost their chances of a promotion. Aspiring start-ups can also glean the skills they need to embark on the path to entrepreneurship.
Many budding entrepreneurs simultaneously juggle a day job with the demands of building a start-up.
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Although this can be an incredibly pressured time, there are lots of entrepreneurial skills you can learn while in full-time employment.
But it’s important to manage this period of your life properly so you maintain a good relationship with your employer and while picking up skills that will stand you in good stead once you do shift to running your fledgling enterprise full-time.
The business puzzle
Alex Stuart is the chief taste officer of event and hospitality business Luxury Tastings.
She previously worked in luxury fragrances and managed Lotus bar in Sydney’s Potts Point district.
Stuart says how you go about acquiring entrepreneurial skills in your job depends on how management runs the business.
“Smart businesses will always nurture those who want to learn the pieces of the puzzles of business,” she says.
Luke Benjamin is in charge of strategy at Enrichme, a start-up website that educates women about money and finance.
Previously he had a stellar career in financial services, working around the world for big names such as MLC, ANZ and Deutsche Asset Management.
He advises start-ups to spend time while in paid employment becoming financially aware, learning interpersonal skills such as how to ask the right questions to get the information you need and how to actively listen to others.
“It’s also an opportunity to develop knowledge of your market, understanding every component of the value chain and building your networks,” he says.
“For me, having experience talking to clients, developing financial products, working in marketing and sales and managing a P/L was invaluable.”
Janine Garner, who founded Little Black Dress Group, which is a networking group for female entrepreneurs, as well as marketing consultancy Script by the Marketing Directors, says it’s critical to have a plan for your business before you jump ship.
She started her business this year after leaving her job as group marketing director for Oroton Group where she managed the iconic handbag label Oroton and luxury brand Ralph Lauren.
“You have to have a strategy and a plan before you leave because this will help you get results for your business quickly.”
“I worked with a business coach before I left my full-time role to help set myself up mentally. You also need to be prepared not to earn any money for at least six months,” Garner advises.
When it comes to developing entrepreneurial skills while working for someone else she says “try to take a leadership role in the business and be prepared to have an opinion; test and explore new things.”
In terms of the length of time it should take to pick up entrepreneurial skills, Stuart says, “the answer lies in the individual. But you will be more prepared if you get experience with both small and large businesses and see a couple of business cycles so you have an understanding of both good and bad times.”