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“I got into the corporate world to learn the ropes so that I can eventually set up my own firm”, said one stock broker. This practice has eventually become the common pattern for most prospective entrepreneurs. They view their job as a learning ground that equips them with the right skills and relationships to eventually kick start their own enterprises.

While this may be a seemingly good path to follow in setting up your business, many get trapped and sucked in to paid employment. They lose sight of their entrepreneurial goal and end up building a lifelong career in paid employment.

To ensure you don’t get carried away with the seeming comfort that come with paid employment, here are 3 ways you can turn your job into a learning ground.

Align your job with your business idea. To make certain you are not just day dreaming, you will need to align your job with your business idea. This relationship may not necessarily be direct, so it is okay to work in a bank even if you intend to set up a fashion line. However, you need to look to build transferrable skills from your job in paid employment to running your business idea. Some of these skills could include project management, people management, building networks, marketing and sales, to mention a few. Since these alignments may not necessarily be obvious, you will need to proactively identify them and hone them.

Change your approach to your job. A mental shift to the way you approach your job is necessary. You cannot have the same mindset with an employee who sees himself going the long haul in paid employment. You should not just view yourself as an employee but a learner on the job. This perspective gives you a critical mind and helps you fast-hack your learning experience.

Have a holistic view. In addition to changing your approach to your job, you also need to have a holistic view. That means you should not just be concerned with your assigned task or that of your department but expand your focus yourself to the entire operations of the organizations. Endeavour to look at activities from a structural perspective. What are the structures on which business decision making runs and how do the different organizational functions inter-relate for effective business decision making. This not only prepares you for your entrepreneurship journey, but helps you become more efficient in your current role in paid employment.

This article is part of a series of conversations around helping professionals in Nigeria make a seamless transition from paid employment to entrepreneurship. This subject will be discussed more extensively at the May 2017 Startit Academy, themed, Plot your Exit Strategy from Paid Employment. For more information about the event and registration, please click here.

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