In recent years entrepreneurship has seen a meteoric rise especially among people of color and I have enjoyed the fruits of their labor. I try to shop exclusively from small business owners for gifts and a few personal items. It is my hope that all of my favorite entrepreneurs continue to thrive and grow. However, I am also a pragmatist by nature so I’ve been thinking about how entrepreneurs can keep their skills current while chasing their dreams. Before we get to the tips. Let me leave this here 90% of startups fail. Given those bleak numbers, it is safe to say that some of you may want to return to the workforce at some point. My thoughts on how you can reenter seamlessly:
Identify transferrable skills
Jot down three primary skills you are using to manage your business. Are you using accounting, people management or marketing skills? Which skill is your sweet spot? That is the skill you want to hone in and can help you land a 9-5. For example, if you have been able to grow your social media network and you enjoy doing so, you can join a company as their social media manager. In this scenario, it will be key to track how fast you grew the social network, the method/process, best practices etc. Tracking this information as you go will help you articulate your skill to a potential employer.
Update your resume and test the waters
Your business may be hitting a stride and you may feel on top of the world but you should still keep your resume up to date and apply to a few jobs a couple times a year. When you get a phone call for a job interview – GO! Although you have no appetite to get back to the 9-5 rat race at that particular time, you should go for the sake of research and to practice your transferrable skills pitch. Going to job interviews will keep you informed on the market and the needs of employers. You will also get an opportunity to test if your skills have gotten stale.
Keep your old 9-5 colleagues warm and connect with other 9-5ers
Stay connected with your old colleagues to serve as future references and referrals for new job opportunities. Additionally, make sure your network is balanced with both 9-5ers and entrepreneurs. It is natural to swim with only entrepreneurs or go to entrepreneur centric events to bond with other entrepreneurs but it is important to connect with 9-5ers in the industry you hope to return to after the entrepreneur life fizzles.
Serve on the board of an organization
Look into serving on the board of a reputable organization to deepen your skills. Your fellow board members can serve as future references or potential coworkers. Stay active on a board or volunteer in other ways.
Go to industry conferences
Make time and save money for industry conferences in the skill you identified as your sweet spot. Going to conferences, subscribing to industry magazines, and joining groups in LinkedIn will keep you current. When you are ready to reenter the workforce you will be up to date on lingo, systems, and processes.
The last and most important tip, come up with a Plan B career and make sure you are using the key skills needed for that Plan B career on a regular basis while chasing the entrepreneur life.