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Would you hire a former entreprenuer?

May 4, 2009

Employees who go off to set up their own business – you hear about them a lot. But have you ever heard of a business owner who closes shop and then tries to come back as a corporate employee?

I’ve spoken casually to a few white collar professionals and these are some of their reactions.

  1. These enterprising types are too smart. They’ll cause unease among our managers.
  2. They’re dangerous. They will figure out our trade secrets and steal our customers.
  3. They’ve been giving orders all this while. Do you think they’ll be happy taking them now?
  4. They’ll bring in some bad habits and influence our people.
  5. These businessmen cannot be trusted. We’ve been cheated so many times before.
  6. If their business sank, who’s to know they won’t do the same to our business?

Personally I’ve never known a former business owner who was successfully hired to a rank-and-file position (middle management). To a CEO or Sales VP position, yes, but not anything lower. Have you?

The general feeling seems to be, if the business you owned ran into the ground, you’re bad news, never mind if it wasn’t your fault you got hit by a flood or fire. Or if you realized and accepted that you weren’t cut out for entreprenuership.

So what about you. If you were a hiring manager, would you hire an former entreprenuer into your rank and file?

Or do you see entreprenuership as a roach motel… people can check in but they can never check out?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 4, 2009 4:59 pm

    A relative of mine closed his business years ago and went back to working in the rank and file for someone else, but not before he completed his signed up projects even at a loss. He also managed to pay off his creditors.

    With some valuable lessons learnt, he went on to manage projects successfully for the company. Meanwhile, some old clients still came to him for part time involvement in their new projects. One day he decided to go back into business for himself again. His boss called him in upon receiving his quit notice.
    “Why are you leaving us? You strike lottery ah?” He had to let him go with his blessings just the same.

    The thing is, when you have built a good reputation in whatever the business, it sticks. And everyone in that line knows about it.

    Your relative’s lucky he didn’t get tarred by the stigma that seems to follow former entrprenuers. Honorable businesspeople are not easy to find. So are honorable clients who respect that entreprenuers too need to make a living. It may not have been your relative’s intent to build a reputation (most of us have only our principles to go by anyway) but as they say, you reap what you sow… eventually. You sow respect, you beget respect. I’m glad your relative is prospering from his good principles.

  2. May 4, 2009 9:16 pm

    well , i cannot imagine entrepreneurs who will get back to the corporate world ..yeah its like a roach motel .

    normally failed businessman will go into lecturing or consulting ..no ? write a book ? give speeches ..many things to do ..why get back to the jungle ?

    From what I observe, many would go “downmarket.” Doing the things you mentioned or get into partnership with a friend. Those who made too many enemies in business may have no other choice but to look for a job. And that’s when things suck.

  3. May 5, 2009 11:12 am

    Actually, my future boss is such a person. He started his business, was doing ok for 4 years before something screwed up. He told me this during the interview and I can feel he’s very honest. Now, he’s the manager for a pioneer team in the company.

    Sounds like you’ve struck a deal. Congratulations!

  4. May 6, 2009 2:31 pm

    Not the best deal. Actually, quite hard to find a good deal in this period. I’ll just have to adapt I guess.

    Look on the bright side – you’ve got a new lease on life. I hope things turn out well in your new place. When do you start?

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