By Hans Balmaekers, Founder and Director, sa.am
Plan B: Entrepreneurship?
Many young professionals quickly discover that corporate life falls short of expectations. Do you relate? You probably feel you have more to offer than your job requires. You may even think you could outperform your manager. If so, you’re not alone.
It’s no secret that Millennials tend to score lowest in employee engagement. Many of us feel that, if only the economy weren’t so bad, we could have started our own companies by now and could proudly call ourselves entrepreneurs.
The great stories of leading self-made innovators like Elon Musk make it easy to see ourselves standing in their shoes, building companies and disrupting industries just as they did. And because corporate life can be so frustrating and unfulfilling, it seems attractive to completely jump ship and do our own thing.
Perhaps if you burned your bridges, you could soon be the next Steve Jobs, on stage, presenting the next big thing, with the world at your feet…
News Flash: Entrepreneurship Is No Ticket to Success
Ready for a wake-up call? The truth is that your dream isn’t likely to become a reality.
Most young-professionals-turned-entrepreneurs don’t even come close. They aren’t even entrepreneuring. They often do the same kind of work as before — but as consultants. (What else can they do with only a few years of experience?) These free agents chase clients, network like crazy, stick their toes in social media and market themselves, but they find themselves still unsatisfied and earning less than before. Has being brave ever felt less appealing?
Maybe you shouldn’t leave and become an entrepreneur. Maybe there’s another way to use your talents and ideas and channel your frustrations about how your organization needs to change. Leaving is not your only option. Why not take a deep breath, stand up, rise above your desk and shout out, “Enough! I’m making changes around here!”
Sure, that might seem a bit theatrical. But be honest. Doesn’t that statement actually describe how you feel?
Start A Secret Intrapreneur Mission Now
If so, try a more subtle way to go about disrupting the status quo — start a secret mission to become an intrapreneur. That means you can use your entrepreneurial mindset and skills to create the job you love and generate better results for your company.
Read that again — a job you love that generates results for your company. Is that possible? Sure it is. Many have done it. Not all openly call themselves intrapreneurs, but the population of these inspiring and talented people is growing. They are changing their companies’ cultures from within, and launching hugely successful products. Think of companies like 3M, Sony, Vodafone, Dell and Google, just to name a few. Intrapreneurs are absolutely essential to these organizations. Most of them started their careers at the same point as you. They experienced the same frustrations as you. And just like you, they knew change was needed.
They had similar ideas and the same urgency to challenge the status quo and figure out how to get things moving. But instead of walking away from those challenges and leaving their employers, they decided to drive the change they envisioned.
Being a change-maker takes passion, persistence, patience and resilience. It’s not the easy road. And it’s not how our generation was raised. We’ve been told that the choice is always ours, that we can have whatever we want, and that participation is optional.
GenY operates with the mantra, “If we don’t like it, we don’t do it.” If you don’t like your job, it might seem easier to quit, but that will not necessarily help. You may still end up feeling unfulfilled, with no stage and no audience (plus a lower salary, or none at all).
Isn’t it more exciting and rewarding to show colleagues, managers and senior executives that we Millennials can fulfill our promise of being innovators, connectors, change-makers and leaders?
The next time you envision yourself as Steve Jobs, picture yourself on the same stage announcing the same breakthrough innovation — but wearing a shirt with your current company’s logo. A successful and happy intrapreneur. Doesn’t that feel more fulfilling than endlessly chasing gigs? You still get your monthly salary, and if you do it right, you’ll grow your income faster than you would as an entrepreneur.
Still Not Into Intrapreneuring? Consider This
Like many GenY workers, you may feel inspired to play your part in changing the world for the better. Multinational corporations and other big organizations play a major role in change-making, believe it or not.
You can take a shorter shower to save water, but compared to the consumption of big industrial corporations, it’s a droplet. You can talk for hours about the financial crisis, but as long as big banks and institutions don’t change the way they operate, will it ever be solved? Transforming education is a must, but if there’s no work for hundreds of millions of young people, why care?
Multinational corporations and big organizations are crucial in changing the world for the better. And the only way to make them frontrunners in that process, rather than followers, is for next-generation employees to drive change from within.
What’s Stopping You?
Ready to apply yourself to the ideas that will help you become an intrapreneur, rather than an entrepreneur? The best way to start is by learning how to perform better at your current job and in less time. Your time can be better spent investing in interesting side projects, engaging in more strategic relationships, and building your reputation.
Are you in?
(Author Profile: Hans Balmaekers is the Founder and Director of sa.am, a resource for young professionals who care about their future, want to make a difference, and want to develop the mindset and skills to become change-makers. This month, sa.am is launching an online intrapreneurship course to prepare aspiring and new intrapreneurs for success. Connect with Hans on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.)
(Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Brazen Life, a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, the blog offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)
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