The Ultimate “Springboard” Careers For Transitions To Entrepreneurship
The path of a successful entrepreneur rarely unfolds into a perfectly straight line. If seizing direct control over one’s financial destiny was guaranteed to always be so simple, who would ever settle for eking out a lifelong living in someone else’s employ? For every Donald Trump to ever seek fortune and fame with but a meager million-dollar loan from a generous patriarch, the annals of both success and failure in business are riddled with men and women mapped the ins and outs of their professions starting from the grittiest ground floor. Before he was a baron of pizza delivery worth more than $800 million, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter delivered piping-hot pies himself in the 1971 Z8 Camaro he would later sell to purchase $1,600 worth of kitchen equipment and launch his pepperoni-powered business out of a broom closet in the back of his father’s tavern. Before the birth of Hulkamania and his inception of WrestleMania, World Wrestling Entertainment chairman and CEO Vince McMahon left a fledgling career as a traveling salesman to work as an announcer for his father’s World Wide Wrestling Federation before scraping together the financing to purchase the promotion alongside his wife.
As the saying goes, ‘You don’t need to be great to start, but you need to start in order to become great’. The most impactful leaders are first willing to embrace being humbled by following and never resigning themselves to running out of invaluable lessons to learn. These introductory careers are only a few vocations among many that have become nascent cornerstones in the personal architectures of enterprising self-made business owners the world over. It’s time you learned to love the smell of elbow-grease in the morning.
It smells like victory. Greasy victory.
First Steps: Training Grounds For Teen Entrepreneurs
In many ways, the best time to initiate an entrepreneurial education begins before an aspiring young business leader has any resume to speak of. For one thing, youngsters, you have nothing to lose with a secure roof over your head, food on your table and the fewest obligations of any time in your adult life. You may not possess an intimidating resume yet, but you have everything to gain in terms of both revenue and priceless experience from exploring these unique jobs in your spare time:
Custom Craft Creator
With a few crafty creative instincts and some completely free DIY tutorials from YouTube, any young fashionista can open an Etsy or Handmade at Amazon shop dedicated to handmade goods in less time than it takes to watch back-to-back episodes of ‘Fuller House’. From there, you have a self-styled business with ample room to grow for as long as it proves fun and rewarding to run. Welcome to the first ‘Experience’ pip on your vitae.
Beauty Product Designer
Here’s another one for inspired creators from all walks of life: if you can’t find a beauty product that suits you, take advantage of the internet’s growing mass of how-to resources and concoct your own. If reinventing the wheel proves too challenging, experiment with ways to alter a product using a basic recipe from Pinterest, YouTube or eHow and offer something valuable consumers haven’t thought to search for yet.
Thanks to platforms such as oDesk and Textbroker, teens can introduce themselves to the world of marketing using their single greatest general asset: unparalleled online savvy. Today’s teenagers have only known the internet and social media in their present states. Their parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents have had to progressively adapt to successive generations of information technology. Consequently, the younger set quickly and naturally sharpens an innate affinity for digitally influencing others and recognizing emerging trends – skills older adults often must expend notably greater effort just to adapt to and match, let alone exceed.
Automotive washes have been providing teenagers with accessible, easy-to-learn for decades. Working outside in an ocean of golden sunshine offers a fun and comfortable working environment – one that just might encourage some seasonal employees to strike out on their own and take an independent dive into managing their own services. Consider chatting up a company such as Shine Supply to learn a bit more about setting up a personal mobile detailing business.
No other industry inevitably tests the endurance of any man or woman’s will to start down and dirty at the bottom of the ladder. Every segment from fast food to fine dining boasts graveyards filled with companies birthed by entrepreneurs who opened restaurants with no respect for the dedication to sacrifice and culinary mastery required for lasting success to take root. Starting out as a line or fry cook working seemingly endless hours in a sweltering kitchen to satisfy demanding customers won’t teach you about profitability models or reading financial projections. It will unleash a crash course in thriving under high pressure, multitasking and adapting on the fly. You will grind, hustle, sweat and swear, but at the end of the day, you will know beyond a reasonable doubt whether you are cut out to weather such a storm of stress every single day as a self-made businessman or woman.
On the other hand, an entry-level retail job will walk anyone quickly through operating a cash register and keeping close track of inventory. Just as importantly, you will never sit through such an immersive practical course in psychology as helping indecisive incoming customers find or even decide what exactly they want. Every business owner eventually lives and dies by an ability to read feedback in a conversation to feel out a customer’s needs and fill them with appropriate products you just happen to have on hand. Give it a month or two, and a professional poker player will be left in awe of your ability to profile complete strangers based on a glance at their behavior. That’s how you transcend meeting consumer needs and effectively predict them. Meanwhile, everyone eventually learns to take a verbal punch by addressing complaints and demonstrating a commitment to making the situation right without losing the customer’s repeat business.
Yes, foodservice and retail will ingrain the fundamentals of tireless customer service. In a nearly exclusive customer-service position, you will take a step beyond standing up to a punch and develop a true iron chin. Dealing with people withered to the last threads of their frayed patience will sometimes show you the nastiest, most vitriolic and demanding sides of supposed well-adjusted adults. That is your whetstone. It refines your tempered edge into a toughened blade shapes to endure the world’s most competitive environments. Already dreaming of staring contests with the ‘Shark Tank’ panel? Start girding yourself for a confrontation with Mark Cuban by letting Frank the frustrated Dallas Mavericks fan who has spent 30 minutes on hold vent about the Jason Kidd throwback jersey he has yet to receive after ordering it two weeks ago. Deal with another thousand dissatisfied shoppers just like Frank. Finally, reflect on how you have grown as a customer-committed individual with the patience of a saint.
At some point, something will go wrong. If you happen to be blessed with the luck of a leprechaun born covered from head to toe with horseshoe-shaped birthmarks and the ability to vomit a rabbit’s foot on command, it will be something your forethought compelled you to tailor an explicit contingency plan around. Chances are, it will be the kind of baffling catastrophe you could not have dreamed up if you tried. Seasoned public relations specialists stake their livelihoods on press releases, composed speeches and calculated advertising programs designed to create and sustain the best image possible for a business or company. They distill the art of appealing to the public down to a science. Forget algebra and fundamental science courses. Every business school should insist on a compulsory battery of P.R. courses for all MBA candidates.
Unless you plan on limiting your role strictly to an “idea man” capacity and hiring a platoon of money-management professionals to plot your fiscal course, there is no discounting the value of at least taking a few basic courses centered on fundamental investing, retirement planning, tax strategies and other financial concepts. If you intend to pursue an initial career as a financial advisor, good on you; anyone who can make a consistent long-term living putting clients’ money to work making money for them by reviewing accounts and shifting strategies as life or circumstances necessitate has established a tentpole skill for ensuring a company’s lasting stability and prospects for growth. In fact, few careers are more conducive to building a business. Being good with numbers allows you to take the reins of your business and reset its trajectory directly. Sometimes, if you want something done right, you will have no choice but to do it yourself.
Few entrepreneurs keep their heads above water for very long or engender any sense of deserving loyalty from the teams around them without some degree of professional leadership experience. You could read every textbook and excel in any class focused on supervising and guiding a business. Absolutely nothing you absorb in a classroom will hammer home the realities of delegation, teamwork, shrewdly allocating resources and mindfully managing time than actually holding a management job, be it a white-collar executive position or a fast-food shift leader. There is no substitute for earning the trust of the people who are sworn to your cause for a penny or a pound. The only “right” way to do that is by proving yourself under fire every day until your management instincts function as immediately and reflexively as your brain commanding your body to breathe in and out.
The world is riding an economic sea-change. Millennials are no longer consumed entirely with fighting one another to lock in cushy positions under monolithic corporate umbrellas. Rather, the terms of this new arms race are dictated by the gig economy and a surrounding startup boom inspiring a generation to quit squabbling over who has the bigger piece of the pie and start learning to bake. Think of these careers as your new professional shopping list.
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