From Tenshey, Inc. CEO & Founder Maggie Chan Jones
For the past few years, I’ve spoken with many women and men who are interested in pivoting into an entrepreneurial path. The pandemic, in some ways, has accelerated this movement. Many are re-examining their priorities or finally deciding to take a leap on what they’ve been dreaming of doing. In September 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that “applications for employer identification numbers (that entrepreneurs need to start a business) passed 3.2 million, compared with 2.7 million at the same point in 2019.” For those who may be in a similar position of wanting to pursue an entrepreneurial path, here are some of the lessons that I’ve learned from leaving a corporate life and entering the startup world:
1. Find a cause or a problem of which you’re absolutely passionate about finding a solution. This will be something that you would think about 24/7 no matter the circumstance. Starting a business often means not receiving a steady paycheck for years. Some questions you may want to consider are, “In what ways can I bootstrap this business venture myself?” or “How can I best secure a financial safety net in case of an emergency?” You may consider adding a freelance or consulting side hustle to supplement your income. You are not making decisions for the short term or even just for yourself. It must be something that you would still be driven by in the long run. If not, your venture will not be sustainable and will end up becoming a flavor of the month or year.
2. Being resourceful has a whole new meaning. In my corporate career, the jobs that I enjoyed most were working on an incubation business within a larger corporate enterprise, which was often categorized as a startup within the corporation. However, they cannot be more different. When entering a new business in an incubation environment within a corporation, there are financial and legal resources readily available to you. When you are starting a business of your own, you are tasked with figuring out those resources on your own. You must have the mentality of, “If I do not make something happen, it will not happen.” Find ways to supplement a variety of operational resources by contacting up-and-coming vendors. At Tenshey, we’ve been intentional about supporting other minority and women-owned vendors for our own business operations.
3. Having a better work-life integration has been one of the pleasantly surprising perks of being an entrepreneur. In a corporate environment, you are bound to the rhythm of a business, which makes it a lot more difficult to integrate personal priorities in the middle of a workday on a consistent basis. As an entrepreneur, you’re in charge of your own schedule. In my case, I may start my day as the day breaks, but I also block out time to play tennis at lunch time. It doesn’t mean that you work less, it just means you can define a schedule and routine that truly redefines “bringing your whole self to work.”
At the end of the day, you own your journey and destiny, and what your priorities are. I’m fortunate to be able to utilize my decades of corporate experience to build a purposeful company. At Tenshey, we measure success by asking ourselves a few questions… Are we helping more women and minorities to lead teams and organizations? Are we helping companies become more inclusive and by this, we mean inclusive of people of all backgrounds? It’s been a joy to help diverse leaders unlock their potential and prepare themselves for those big opportunities whenever they come along.