Knowing when the time is right to commit to becoming a full-time entrepreneur can be tricky, especially when you’re trying to earn a living. For anyone facing the dilemma, Richard Branson has some words of advice...
"Budding entrepreneurs often have to get a steady job in order to support themselves before they have the resources to go off and start their own business. And there are many advantages in working a job you like, while still planning to leave one day and run your own company," explains the Virgin Group founder in a recent blog post.
"In fact, we’ve lost plenty of talented people from across the Virgin Group to the draw of entrepreneurship - and I’ve always supported them in taking the plunge. Two perfect examples: Adam Balon, who co-founded Innocent Drinks, and Air Asia founder Tony Fernandes. I’d like to say that I taught them all they know, but the truth is that we benefited just as much from their ideas and drive as they did from Virgin!"
Seeking steady employment before trying your hand at business isn’t necessarily just about paying the bills, it can also give you the opportunity to expand your network and pick up invaluable skills in the industry you may one day launch a business in, points out Richard.
"It’s important to note that working for someone else will not only ease your financial pressures and give you a sense of stability, it will also enable you to make important contacts that could be valuable later. If you do choose to go down this route, just be sure that the business you’re joining is the right one for you.
"Ask yourself: Is it based in the industry you’d eventually like to enter? Will your role enable you to challenge yourself? Will your job offer you the freedom and responsibility you need to avoid being frustrated? That last bit is very important. Working for someone else can act as a launch pad for greater things, but choosing the wrong employer can stifle you."
Having acknowledged that Virgin itself has lost some of its brightest employees to the temptations of becoming your own boss, Richard clearly enjoys the thought of having a team full of potential entrepreneurs.
"At Virgin, we try to empower people to feel like they’re their own bosses - it’s something we do right from the start. This strategy encourages employees to think more entrepreneurially and prevents teams from becoming stagnant,” explains Richard.
"After all, entrepreneurs are problem-solvers, and who wouldn’t want a team full of problem-solvers?"