Working towards entrepreneurship

A job can help you build the knowledge needed to run your own business. | Freepik

A job can help you build the knowledge needed to run your own business. | Freepik

Published May 31, 2024


You’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur and unleashing the next big idea on the world. But it’s tougher than you thought. After trying and failing to start your own business, you’ve been forced down a road you never thought was for you: full-time employment. Is this the end of your journey to becoming the next Theo Baloyi?

“Not necessarily,” says Andiswa Bata, Head: SME at FNB Commercial. “If you keep your eyes open and treat a job as a learning experience, there’s a huge amount of value to be gained for a budding entrepreneur in the formal work environment.”

Employee experience

When you build your own business, your success is going to be determined by the people you have around you. You’re going to need employees - and having been one yourself will give you valuable insight into creating an environment that gets the most out of your people. You’ll also learn good management strategies as well as the bad people management pitfalls to avoid.

Knowledge building

You might be fixated on the next disruptive innovation, but growing a business involves a lot of less exciting work. A good example of this is putting processes and frameworks in place. Knowing what formal structures and systems need to be in place can help your future business survive, and will be a huge shortcut when the time comes to grow and scale.

You’ll also learn how to approach and mitigate risk in the sense of protecting what you’ve worked hard to build, understanding the importance of registering your intellectual property, and the like.

Team value

As tempting as it may be to think that you can do everything yourself, being in a job can teach you about the importance of having a team of specialists focused on a common goal. At some stage in your entrepreneurial journey, you’re going to need to surround yourself with a team of experts - and the sooner you realise exactly where your strengths are, and where you need support, the better. Pay attention to the work everyone is doing and what makes them good or bad at their job. Notice how bigger organisations are structured, and how it might apply to your future business.

Financial leg-up

A job is also a useful source of something that’s in very short supply when you’re starting a business: money. It will enable you to stay afloat financially and save directly towards investing in your dream business. Having a personal income to lean on could also stand you in good stead for future business funding, in addition to giving you the ability to build personal assets that may one day come in handy for your business.

“Aspiring entrepreneurs should not frown upon the valuable skills and knowledge one can build when in formal employment. So, if your own business is taking time to take off, don’t begrudge that first job - embrace it,” concludes Bata.