How Senior Executives can make the big shift from Corporate to Start-ups

Let’s face it. A job is not just a job. It is a blanket with which we cover ourselves financially. The mere thought of quitting our full time job and starting our own venture sends jitters down our spine. But isn’t this one of the many things that differentiates an entrepreneur from an employee, the ability to take risk?

If you go to see, a job is not really much different from a business. What you’re actually doing in a job is business; only here it’s for the company you work for. And the higher you rank in the company hierarchy the more you turn into a business professional.

So you may be forced to think that going solo should be easier for senior executives given their experience. But it isn’t how it works. Following are some of the biggest challenges that senior executives face when making the big shift:

That Sweet Monthly Credit
When you start working right after college you feel like the world around you has changed. And it actually does. In college we accept the fact, even though reluctantly, that we have no money to spend.But the moment we start working things change. In a way, we become addicted to that sweet message of money being credited to our account at the end of the month.

Letting go of this is not as easy as it sounds. In the case of senior executives it only becomes harder because there’s a five or six figure salary at stake. The best thing a senior executive can do in such a situation is to take things slow.

Start your business while you are still employed with a company. Do the initial set-upon weekends and then when the ball gets rolling think about taking the next step.

Looking at the Larger Picture
After spending almost 15 to 20 years of your life working with a corporate- you know how it actually works. Although, corporates ensure recognition and permanence, even this hasn’t stopped people from taking on the start-up world.

As a consequence of the perceptible success of the start-up ecosystems, certainly many senior executives of some of the top firms are considering crossing their lines and making the leap from the corporate world to start-up landscape.

And undoubtedly, taking your decades’ worth of experience to start-ups is akin to immigrating to a new country- while embarking on this journey, you must be readily available to tackle new challenges.

Switching from a relatively predictable environment to a start-up could be daunting, as you never know what would happen the next day. Plus, you have to step-up your game in every situation, which changes so radically and that too without warning. Whether it is about joining an established start-up or launching your own start-up, hurdles would definitely come while transitioning from corporate to a start-up.

Your Routine will Change
Nobody can deny that working for a multinational company has its own sweet advantages. You assume a good position and your juniors flock to you for advice. But in a start-up you are required to start from absolute zero. You may have to deal with many different kinds of people and this may not be such an easy task.

All in all, it gives usa different experience and makes us overcome a unique set of challenges. Generally,employees become accustomed to this corporate culture. Few even begin to identify themselves by it. They like how everything is in its right place with all the processes being carefully aid down for them. But in start-ups things are never in their right place and there is no set routine or discipline to be followed.

Agility is Important
Even though senior executives embrace years of work experience, it is equally important for them to have an entrepreneurial mindset while laying down the processes in a start-up. If they fail to do so, they would face struggle in initial phases.

In the corporate culture, employees are trained to take a few things for granted, but this is definitely not the case with start-ups. Here, you might have to work with limited resources along with taking some really tough decisions. Therefore, agility is required to cope up with such situations.

Change Your Mindset
In a corporate culture, when you don’t perform according to expectations, your work can go to others, but in your own start-up, since you will be an entrepreneur, you have to get your own hands dirty.

Also, you have to wear multiple hats, like getting into all tiny details, modifying your office aesthetics and appeal, selling the product to your first customer or demonstrating your services. And all these tasks are supposed to be handled solely by you, in most situations.
Additionally, when you work in a big corporate, you focus majorly on profit and loss. But this approach will shift entirely to having a cash flow first. Prior to anlaysing profit and loss in a start-up, you would need cash flow to run business operations smoothly.

Be Collaborative
Unlike corporate setting, majority of the start-ups are democratic and less hierarchical, so sustain a “less is more” approach, and share your opinion when you feel it could really help. Instead of being dominating or believing that you know more, you have to accept inputs from everyone at the table.

Keep Challenges Aside and Focus on the Advantages
Not only is it great for the senior executives to start afresh as an entrepreneur but also for the start-ups to get their experience on board. There are many advantages for a senior executive to move to the start-up ecosystem, like- he/she brings a network of valuable contacts and also, knows how to communicate. Since, attending presentations is a regular activity in corporate culture; it comes in handy,in the start-up world, at the times when you have to pitch to an investor.

Author Bio
Alfie Miller is a business consultant who works for other businesses on weekdays and for his own on weekends. He also likes to write and can be seen dispensing business advice to legal start-ups on golf courses.


  1. The senior executives gotta learn many things from their experience.They will be well aware about the Do’s and Dont’s and they can apply the same when they start their own venture.Being senior means they will be having a decent work experience and that will definitely help them.

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