Corporate vs Entrepreneur: Which is right for you?

Leaving the corporate world is a huge, life-changing decision. But it could be the best step you ever take. Rebecca Newenham evaluates the options.

Corporate vs Entrepreneur: Which is right for you?

Do you love your corporate job but crave more flexibility? Enjoy being part of a team yet feel constrained by policies and procedures? Always dreamt of being your own boss but never quite found the right time? I faced many of these questions when I decided to run my own business. Whilst none of us have a crystal ball and can tell the future, here are some suggestions to help you determine if it’s the right time to take the plunge.

Do you have a great business idea?

The business world is littered with ideas that never quite made it. If you have an idea in mind, it pays to spend time doing your homework. Research your market, your competitors and your customers. Identify their pain points and your price points. Evaluate start-up costs, including any equipment you might need. Ask for other people’s advice and options. Talk to entrepreneurs who were in your shoes one day. Most are very happy to share the lessons they have learnt along their journey and what they would do the same or differently if starting their business today.

Going it alone doesn’t mean being alone

There are many ways to run your own business. If you go down the entrepreneur route, your business might be wholly your own, but you can still find support through business networking and mentoring. Partnerships are a great way of sharing the load of a business as you always have someone by your side, but it does mean there is someone else you have to consult when making decisions. Franchising is a third route that can give you the best of both worlds – the freedom to run your own business the way you want, yet with the support of a franchise network around you.

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes

Some are confident, outgoing and outspoken disruptors like Sir Alan Sugar. Unafraid to challenge the norms and back their own businesses. Others are much more introverted and simply wish to find a way of working that gives them the flexibility they want. Neither guarantees success, but if you are thinking of taking the plunge to run your own business, being resilient is a huge help. There are bound to be good and bad days when running your business. Just like there are in the corporate world. Yet when you’re an entrepreneur, everything is a bit more personal. It helps to see the bigger picture and accept that mistakes are all part of learning. AS well as realise that running your own business usually means getting your hands dirty. There is no IT department to come and rescue a frozen computer. No HR department to fund your continuous personal development. No finance department to process your expenses. The plus side is, in my experience at least, you’ll learn all sorts of new skills and realise you are capable of so much more than you thought. 

Be clear on your ultimate goal

Why do you want to become an entrepreneur? For many people, it’s about being in control and having a better work-life balance. But it can end up with you trying to do everything yourself – from Finance Director to sales rep and everything in between. Remembering your why is so important. If it was to work more flexibly, don’t be afraid to outsource tasks that you don’t enjoy or that drain your time, to focus on what you do best.

One of my franchisees, Fiona, left a 20-year corporate career in project management and supply chain management at one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets and started her Get Ahead business. For her, the driver was all about work-life balance and spending more time with her children as they grew up. But she enjoyed the challenges of her career and didn’t want to abandon all her progress. 

Fiona said, “Joining Get Ahead has been a great success. I’ve been able to retain many of the aspects of corporate roles that I enjoyed and still work within a supportive team. In my old job, I was sometimes frustrated by how long any new idea took to implement. But now, I can make decisions promptly and confidently, knowing they’re backed by a strong brand and clear direction.

Best of all, I’m at home when my children are, watching them grow and being part of their lives. I’m proud to be giving them a consistent home life instead of a complicated childcare rota. My children are growing up to be really lovely people, and I know that for a fact because I get to spend quality time with them.”

Working in the corporate world might feel like normality. A safe, secure option with a clear career path. Moving away from it is a big decision, but it could turn out to be much easier than you think and well worth it.

Rebecca Newenham
Rebecca Newenham