My Corporate Career
I started my professional career working for large corporations, before working for a start-up and eventually transitioning to being a full-time entrepreneur. I’m actually really proud of my background in the corporate world and I think it has helped me immensely in starting my own business. I’ve worked in a lot of different finance-related roles starting with being a teller at a bank after I graduated. I would jump roles every few years, but the most impactful experience I’ve ever had was working for nearly four years at the same bank. I’m proud to say that this bank is Capital One Canada and this company has forged the foundations of my professional career to this day.
In a large company, I didn’t have to look far to see a good manager or a bad one. When I first started at the bank, I had a manager that took me under his wings and showed me the ropes. He helped me with the most menial of things such as how to wordsmith emails and I am forever grateful. I had another manager who mastered the art of building a team and bringing people together. He was my manager, but I also consider him my friend. He knew when I was upset even when I didn’t say anything. He had a soft touch with people always being considerate of their viewpoints. Only looking back did I realize how big of a task it was for him to bring a team of very different personalities together. I also have the experience and understanding of what it is like to be managed by incompetent middle-managers, which in turn made me motivated to avoid replicating a similar environment for my own team.
Refreshing Chat with Brent Reynolds
Recently, I met with Brent Reynolds, a former senior leader at Capital One Canada. He recently left his full-time role at the bank to start his own business. It was refreshing to briefly connect with him. I thought that we saw eye-to-eye on many points as we discussed hiring talent and structuring our teams. Even though we were both building our companies from nothing, we really aren’t starting from scratch. We’re building our teams from the knowledge-base of our respective corporate careers. And that’s the advantage of starting a corporate career first before moving into the entrepreneur space.
Brent and I also discussed the obvious corporate life to entrepreneur life topic: letting go of the idea of a stable income. This is the most daunting thought, especially when one has a family. Since blogging about being an entrepreneur, several people have come to me about their interest in being an entrepreneur but tell me they aren’t ready to just leave their jobs. I wrote a separate blog post here about options to consider before taking the pluge of being a full-time entrepreneur. This is probably the factor that makes this decision the most difficult.
Corporate Life to Entrepreneur Life
Being an entrepreneur means taking risks and making mistakes to get to the end goal. There really isn’t a lot of guidance, unless one is lucky enough to have a really good mentor that can help pave the way. This may be a reason why I find that entrepreneurs also tend to do a lot of reading for guidance. Learning lessons in this way could be painful and financially risky. For those who are interested in being an entrepreneur but lack a business idea and work experience, I would recommend the corporate to entrepreneur path. In my opinion, it makes sense to work in a restaurant before opening one. Also, why make a mistake on your own dime when you can make a salary learning how to do it?
The alternative is people who decide to take the entrepreneur plunge immediately without ever touching foot in the corporate world. It’s not necessarily the wrong path and there are benefits and drawbacks of doing it in this way. I think these people are a unique breed and I will discuss more in a future post.