5 Strategies To Go From CXO/CEO/ COO/CFO to Successful Entrepreneur

Are you a corporate refugee or executive in transition who thought the grass was greener on the entrepreneurial side of the fence, only to find out it wasn't as easy as you expected?

It’s an interesting problem.  You had the title of CXO/CEO/CFO/COO and everything that comes with it:  The corner office, a closet full of silk ties  (or silk nylons) and a comfortable six or seven-digit salary.  And then an unexpected turn of events ...

Maybe it was a physical or personal wake-up call that spurred the decision to take a voluntary early retirement.

Or perhaps like so many other successful executives you were involuntarily terminated as the result of unhappy shareholders or the downsizing after the Great Depression of 2008.

Then you decided because you were a successful Executive, or became tired of hearing “thank you for applying, but …” you decided to explore entrepreneurship and go into business for yourself.

The failure rate of start ups is high, but let's imagine you made it through your first year and you're just about at the end of your savings.  If it wasn't as easy a road as you thought it would be, you may be re-thinking your idea of going into business for yourself.

Amnesia has a numbing effect, so let me ask you a few questions that might help you remember why you are here:   What do you miss the most and the least from the corporate world?  I did a little informal survey of my coaching clients and blog readers and here’s what rose to the top:

Here’s the Top 5 of what you said you missed the least:

1. Navigating career stifling personalities and office politics

2.  The illusion of job and career security

3. Having to lay off people you know need and deserve the job (not to mention they gave you their all and trusted you)

4. The All-Important-Bottom-Line and meaningless results

5. Company policies written in stone

Here’s the Top 5 of what you said you missed the most:

1.  Teamwork and connection

2.  Challenge, using my best talents and strengths

3.  Having clear goals, metrics and deadlines to meet

4.  Recognition and status, making a difference

5.  Financial compensation

And here are the three biggest limiting assumptions I see held by many executive-turned-entrepreneur types in the first year of the new venture:

1.  The same ingredients for corporate success are the same for entrepreneurial success

2.  The Why-Didn't-I-Know-That-Because-I-Did-That-In-My-Old-Role mentality

3.  If I build it they will come … Why do I have to be the sales and marketing expert, too?

Here’s 5 Strategies you need to successfully transition from Corporate Prisoner to Successful Entrepreneur:

  • Create a formal or informal “Board of Advisers  - Being chief bottle washer is a lonely position. People need people to offer resources and have conversations that inspire motivation, initiative and creativity. A formal or informal Board of Advisers is your team.
  • Create public SMART Goals & BHAG – Written and announced SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time-bound) and BHAG (Big, Hairy Audacious Goals). Find another entrepreneur to be your “Goal Partner” or enlist the services of a professional coach for accountability.
  • Clearly Define the Strong WHY - Your goals need to be aligned with the difference you believe it will make for others, your family and lastly yourself when you achieve those goals. It can’t be all about you.
  • Create Multiple Streams of Income - Consider giving up the “trading time for dollars” mentality for the “creating multiple streams of income” mentality so you can achieve the work/life balance you want.
  • Get The Customer Perspective - Get a good at look at your services or products from your customer’s perspective first. If sales and marketing wasn't your genius in the corporate world, get outside help from a business coach or mentor.

Sustainable Leadership clients who have gone from Executive to Corporate Refugee to Entrepreneur say they would not trade their new found time freedom, sense of satisfaction or happiness for the price of the title, the corner office or salary of the corporate world ever again.

If you have made the successful transition from Executive to Entrepreneur, what do you miss the most and what is your best advice?

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