The advantage of having a job before starting your own business

advantage of having a job

We recently had a lively discussion in the RISE community about the advantage of spending time in the corporate world before taking an entrepreneurial leap. Several people in my community have experience with large companies, and we all had the same conclusion: the advantage of having a job before doing your own thing can be life-changing.

Since I have this conversation with a lot of young people who dream of starting a business, I thought I would put these ideas down in a blog post that I can use as a teaching tool in the future!

The advantage of having a job

Almost without exception, I recommend working in a company environment for at least five years before starting your own thing.

Some of the themes that came out of our community discussion:

Financial buffer

100 percent human contentHaving a steady job allows you to build a financial safety net so you can pursue your dream in a steady and patient manner.

For example, one person I know saved up $20,000 in a job at a university before starting her own business. At the university, she was learning relevant skills on-the-job, and, as an employee, was eligible for free classes in entrepreneurial business.

Shortly after she made the leap to start her own business, the pandemic hit. That financial buffer helped her get through the hard times, and her business has been a great success in spite of the crisis.


Most companies offer allowances for professional development. These courses and conferences can be even more important than a college education because they can provide specific skills and professional contacts that can lead to success later.

I was in the corporate world for more than two decades and received company-sponsored education in marketing, organizational development, business strategy, supply chain management, statistics, law, and HR which helped me become a well-rounded and prepared entrepreneur.


I recently had lunch with a person who worked with me in the corporate world. We had great careers in the corporate world and had made our own paths in the world. But both of us remarked that the challenges we faced in a corporate setting helped us become more confident out on our own.

“I didn’t realize it until I left the company,” she said. “But working on big projects and big problems with a team gave me confidence when I was out on my own.”

If you start a company without working in a job first, you might “think” you can do it, but having some business experience under your belt will help you KNOW you can do it!

advantage of having a job

Exposure to professional experiences

When I worked for a big company, I visited diverse customer locations, had a chance to visit foreign countries, and work alongside smart people in finance, transportation, and business development. I had great bosses and mentors who helped me grow and mature as a business professional.

All of these experiences provided insights into how all these functions and systems worked together to create value for a customer.

Network of relevant friends

When I left the corporate world, three of my first customers were friends I had met through my company job. Having a job lets you plant the seeds for a new customer network, financial base, and advisory network that can help support your new venture.

On one massive customer project for my new business, I actually hired colleagues from my ex-company as partners on the assignment. They were subject matter experts, and we already had a good work history together.

Emotional intelligence

Leading a business is more than learning about systems and processes. It’s also about learning to handle conflict, negotiate a contract, and respond to employee issues. In the end, these “soft skills” might make or break your company more than the success or failure of your business idea!

Last thoughts

Working for a company might seem old-fashioned and maybe even unpopular with most young people. I know there is a lot of status attached to the gig economy and the hustle culture.

The advantage of having a job for a few years is that you will be MUCH more prepared to start your own business compared to any experience you would have at college or courses you could pick up on the internet.

Going to college will give you the skills to start a career. But working in a corporate environment can provide the experience, connections, and resources to start a business.

Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of some of the world’s bestselling marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant. The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak at your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedInYouTube, and Instagram.

Thanks to Drew from Toothpaste for Dinner for the cartoons!

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