I thought I was alone on the need to find out how large companies work. After 20 years in tech start ups, small and medium sized business, I had a desire to understand how large business operate, how they scale, how they manage the volume of business. I secured my first corporate gig in Salesforce.com in my 40’s!
7 years on I have no regrets, I have personally grown, I am still an entrepreneur at heart and love the opportunities that present themselves daily. The transition is the hardest personal development opportunity I have ever been through, but worthwhile.
In preparation to going into corporate from a small business here are the five skills you need to perfect:
- Stakeholder management: In small business can you can afford to be dismissive and intolerant of others. In corporate you have to work at every relationship and interaction. If you don’t you can earn the reputation as “throwing others under the bus”, “difficult to deal with” . The key to success is understanding what your stakeholders want from you, how you can help them through insights and sharing information and working as one.
- Judgement: Let go of it. It has no purpose and gets you into a heap of trouble. Move from thinking about the persons annoying habits to how you can help them. Build great relationships across the business. you cannot afford to have anyone who speaks negatively about you, as that will stop your career and find it difficult to achieve the results
- Job descriptions: In small business you need a versatile team that work across multiple disciplines, Job descriptions are a guide. In corporate the need for clarity around roles and responsibilities is critical to the growing empires. In rapid growth the land grab is part of the political positioning by leaders. Be careful when stepping over boundaries that you do it with consent.
- Influence: ability to change others thinking. In small business, energy and passion does the trick, in corporate asking great questions is critical to influencing. You cannot influence by telling. You will fail fast, so learning to ask questions every day in every situation is the key to success. Collaboration is critical to working together
- Intreperneurship: your greatest asset to a corporate. Your ability to create and build from nothing. You are not hung up on turning the titanic, Job descriptions, perceived limitations, you bring the can do attitude, glass half full that makes things happen. You will inspire others by your enthusiasm and people will want to join you on your expedition. Sell this attribute as this is of great interest to corporate.
Startup opportunities in corporate is the best of both worlds. You can utilise your SMB skills whilst developing many new ones that will accelerate your development.
Today many people with startup businesses at the next stage of growth come and speak to me about how to tackle the transition from small to medium, medium to larger business. Some want to take a step up and don’t have the skills, others want to step back in the business, others want to be on the board and leave exec leadership to transition in to non exec roles. What ever the transition is you are looking to achieve, each needs a transition plan and a coach/mentor to enable the change.
I chose a business coach to prepare for corporate. Without the coaching prior and in the early years I could not have made the transition. Your new leader in corporate may have never experienced a small or medium business so the responsibilities are with you to address your gaps fast, so you can operate effectively.
As a result of developing the skills, I have definitely become a far better leader and coach. You never stop learning, which is why career opportunities are so much fun and stimulating.