Want to be a kick-ass entrepreneur? You must first become an employee

Not everybody can become a successful entrepreneur without undergoing some level of training Click To Tweet

Early this year, I had a conversation with a colleague, and we both agreed that the ultimate goal of most millennials was to be their own boss. According to a survey that was conducted by America’s Small Business Development Centres, over 61% of millennials believe the best job security comes from owning your own business.

In my opinion, this is a welcome development. More entrepreneurs mean more job creation which in turn leads to an even distribution of wealth, hence reducing the household to poverty ratio. Having said that, it must be stated that not everybody can become a successful entrepreneur without undergoing some level of training whether as an employee or receiving formal (or semi-formal) education. It is quite impossible for you to suddenly acquire the skill set required to become a successful entrepreneur without learning from someone.

Presently, there is an ongoing, albeit subtle, disparagement of people working as employees. The condescension is astonishing, you wouldn’t believe it. Employees are now seen as sell-outs; people with little or no ambition. In their haste to put down employees, most people forget that the most successful entrepreneurs in the world were once employees. And the reason for their success can be partly attributed to the skills they acquired while working under someone.

Most people forget that the most successful entrepreneurs in the world were once employees Click To Tweet

I came across this quote by President Donald Trump which I think is very apt for this post, “Watch, listen, and learn. You can’t know it all yourself. Anyone who thinks they do is destined for mediocrity”. In the same vein, you can only be a great leader by being a follower. Working as an employee can provide you with tools that you need to start-up your own company.


Business contacts and networks don’t magically land in your laps. You have to make a conscious effort to put yourself out there.

By working as an employee, you are able to access the pool of professionals and resources you will need in the future. Never underestimate the power that comes from knowing people and having connections that will act as your referral sources when you do start your business.


This cannot be over-emphasized. One of the key reasons why most start-ups fail is because the entrepreneurs didn’t have the necessary experience or knowledge about the sector.

A friend who wanted to start a clothing line had no idea what such venture would entail. Her solution was employing someone who had experience. The danger with this is that you are essentially running a business where you know nothing, thus leaving yourself open to failure.

Confidence and clear communicator

When you learn a skill and have mastered it (by doing it over and over again as an employee), there is a confidence that comes with the knowledge that you are a pro in that particular area.

For instance, working as a sales personnel in a manufacturing company. As a sales personnel, you had to learn how to sell a product. By doing this over a period of time, you become very good at it. When you eventually start your own product line, you are already a master of sales and this brings a certain level of confidence.

As an employee, you had to learn the art of good communication, what good communication looks and sounds like. Being able to communicate effectively makes a major difference, and this is a skill you will need when you start employing people.

Learning the art of budgeting

Truthfully, you don’t need to be an employee to learn how to budget your expenses. However, as an employee, you may have noticed that in order for a company to run effectively, funds have to be allocated for various activities.

You learn how to achieve more with less, and how to organise and think creatively. This is important because not all startups have huge capital to invest. You will need to do the important stuff with the little you have.

Avoid mistakes

There is nothing as beautiful as learning from the mistakes of others, especially for entrepreneurs. So, as an employee, you would have noticed the flaws and the loopholes in the business. This will serve as a guide such that when you start your own company, these flaws and loopholes will be avoided.

So, these are the reasons why I believe that one of the best things an aspiring entrepreneur should do before starting up his/her company is to first work for other people.

About Onyinyechi Nwanna Iwuoha

My name is Onyinyechi Nwanna Iwuoha. I am a corporate lawyer with ǼLEX Partners, one of the leading law firms in Nigeria. In addition to law, I blog. My blog is a personal blog which focuses mostly on career development and life in general. I am a fervent advocate of educating the girl child, and my favourite quote is by Maya Angelou, “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass." This is my goal!

When I’m not working or blogging, I love to read anything and everything (well, except thrillers). I also enjoy travelling, watching football (Up Arsenal!) and catching up on my favourite TV shows. Though not important, I believe I’m the love child of Sheldon Cooper and Cookie Lyon.

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