Returning from Entrepreneurship

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By Sally McKibbin

Life often takes us on unexpected journeys. As a result, many individuals may find themselves returning to work after pursuing entrepreneurial dreams.
In today’s dynamic job market and challenging economic climate, there are many reasons why entrepreneurs may choose to transition back to more traditional roles and structured work. Some may reach a tipping point where they can no longer sustain the cost of monetising an innovative idea, while others may be looking for a more predictable routine, and some might be ready develop a more specialised role.
After being involved in a wide range of business operations from product development, sales, marketing and finance, entrepreneurs may find the transition into more formal work isn’t easy, but there are many avenues available for resilient individuals to bridge the divide between their entrepreneurial past and their future in a more corporate world.
Preparing for your return to work is essential for a smooth transition. While the prospect of re-entering the job market can be challenging, effective preparation empowers you to navigate the journey with confidence and a winning attitude during interviews and networking. With careful preparation, a positive mindset, and patience, it’s possible to secure a right-fit role and make a successful professional comeback.

Define your focus

Begin your job search with a clear focus. Reflect on your educational background, professional experience, skills, interests, strengths, and values. Consider the work activities you genuinely enjoy and use them to guide your job search towards positions that align with your passions and offer a fulfilling work environment.
After working as a jack-of-all-trades, homing in on the parts of entrepreneurial experience you most enjoyed will help define the type of role you might apply for. For an even stronger approach, seek out roles that build on your pre-start-up experience. This not only maintains professional consistency but also heightens your attractiveness to recruiters.
As your skills and interests may have evolved, an honest self-assessment will help you find a role that fits your current life stage.

Update your CV

Once you’ve defined the type of industry and role you’d like to work in, refresh your resume to include any additional skills you’ve gained during your career break. If you’re applying for a role in product development, your experience in bookkeeping may be less relevant.
Start-up founders possess a treasure trove of skills that can be seamlessly transferred to traditional roles. Their ability to take initiative, manage risks, and think creatively are highly valued in many industries and organisations. Be candid about these qualities in your resume to demonstrate how they can benefit your potential employer.
Emphasising job-relevant soft skills such as leadership, adaptability, and problem-solving, which are often in high demand in traditional roles, can also make you an attractive candidate. Provide examples from your entrepreneurial experience to illustrate these qualities.
Take time to consider if it might be beneficial to adopt a title that better reflects the role you’re applying for. For example, rather than presenting yourself as ‘Founder’ or ‘CEO’, consider using ‘Head of Marketing, Founder’ depending on the type of role you’re hoping to secure.

Expand and inform your network

Expand your professional network by joining associations, attending networking events, and participating in industry-specific conferences. Building your network in the professional area you hope to work in can introduce you to potential job opportunities and connect you with individuals who can provide insights, references, or mentorship.
Inform your existing network of contacts about your return to the workforce. Reach out to former colleagues, friends, vendors/suppliers and acquaintances you’ve met while running your own business. Sharing your plans increases the likelihood of learning about job opportunities or receiving references that highlight your abilities.

Consider smaller roles

Beginning your transition with a position that’s slightly below your desired role can be a stepping-stone to your dream job while allowing you to gain experience and redirect your career. Easing back into a regular work schedule can offer flexibility and allow you to assess whether an industry, company, or profession aligns with your goals before committing.
Returning to work after a period of entrepreneurship requires preparation, resilience, and a strategic approach. Embrace the journey of reinvention and remember that every step you take brings you closer to a new career path and a successful return to work.

About the author: Sally McKibbin, Career Coach at Indeed. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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