Want a Great Employee? Hire an Entrepreneur!

4 years ago

I am in the middle of a transition.  After working for myself for 13 years, I am ready for a new challenge - as much as I love the fitness industry, I am finding that my brain needs more to do than just choreography. 

I want to get back into the business of fundraising and marketing for a nonprofit organization, and interviews are going well.  Due to my somewhat unorthodox resume, I keep getting asked why I want to work for someone else after working for myself for so long.  It's a valid question, but it's usually asked with a degree of trepidation - will I be able to take direction and be a team player?  What if I just want to do my own thing?  How will someone who has been so independent work with our organization?

I get it - it's scary to hire a new person and hope they fit in.  But whether your candidate comes from another organization or from their own business, there is no guarantee of a perfect fit.  If I were in the position of doing the hiring, I would be more apt to look at the entrepreneur, and here's a few reasons why:

1.  She can work independently and knows the importance of making a deadline:  In all my years of owning my own business, I had no one to delegate to - if I didn't do it, it didn't get done.  This type of pressure makes for a very driven individual who is able to finish the task at hand with minimal drama.

2.  No task is too big OR too small: Again, if there is no one to make your coffee or make your copies, you do it yourself.  It's kind of a shame that after a certain level of success some individuals forget how to do the more mundane tasks that keep an office running smoothly - however, the entrepreneur can replace the toner, unjam the printer and sign for the FedEx every time.

3.  Entrepreneurs trust their gut: You will usually get a straight answer from the entrepreneur-she has most likely had success and failure and has developed a strong instinct for what will work in a number of situations.  Employees who trust their instincts are worth a lot more than ones who just tow the party line.

4.  There is always more than one way to solve a problem: The entrepreneur can come up with a variety of ways to approach a problem, and many solutions come with the added bonus of saving the company money.  Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to cut excess from the budget and up the revenue level, and will usually offer several ways to fix what's broken.

5.  9 to 5?  What's that?:  I have been known to sit up until 2 or 3AM in my PJs trying to make a deadline or catch up on work.  Most small business owners have done the same.  I don't suggest you chain the entrepreneur to her desk, but she will be there (or telecommuting) until the job is done.

6. Planning is the key to success:  Every successful entrepreneur I know has a plan - no, make that several plans - to get the job done.  People who run their own company set goals, assess the goals once met and then set NEW goals.  Employees who instinctively do this are invaluable to the long range plan of an organization.

7.  Entrepreneurs stay in the know and keep learning: Ask an entrepreneur about her field and she can tell you not only about her company's earnings, but the status of her competitor's as well.  Entrepreneurs are well-read and stay up on trends and news in their industry.  Since most small business owners have no one to turn to for career development, they become very adept at self-teaching and choosing workshops and programs to help them grow. 

I just got the exciting news that one of the reasons I am a finalist  for a position I'm very interested in is my background as an entrepreneur.  The director of the organization said he was looking to hire someone he can give a task to and not have to worry about whether or not it's getting done.  I think if he makes me the right offer, I will start my next chapter-stay tuned!

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