Entrepreneurship Events TEMS TEMS INDIA

Webinar : Can employees become entrepreneurs?

Mr Sudeendra Koushik, BE, MBA, PG-Strategy (IIM-K), PhD* (Innovation), SMIEEE, MIE

Chief Innovator & Co-Founder PRASU (Innovation Consulting company), www.PRASU.biz

Visiting Faculty National Institute of Design Bangalore, Ahmedabad

Member Board of Governors, IEEE Technology & Engineering Management Society (TEMS)

Chairman IEEE Technology & Engineering Management Society (TEMS) Bangalore and India

Vice Chairman Industry Activities IEEE India Council

Chairman IEEE Bangalore 2018 / Member Asia Pacific Committee on Innovation

TEDx https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSedDHKEtKA / LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sudeendrakoushik

Book https://www.amazon.in/Conversation-Innovator-You-Sudeendra-Koushik-ebook/dp/B01N3AJOXN

Areas of specialisation: Innovation for Business, Innovation Strategy, Intrapreneurship, IP & Patents, Technology & Innovation Competence Management, Converting ideas to new Products and Services, Product design, Product Development & Realisation, Mentoring start-ups, Technical Manager Mentoring & Coaching


The webinar is intended to clarify what it means to be an employee versus to be an entrepreneur. Very often young students are unsure which path to follow, especially given the situation in India and the increasing number of start-ups. The situation is not a very different one as experience professionals and young professional look to find their sweet spot and wonder in the process to continue as an employee or find their way as an entrepreneur.

There are some similarities between being an entrepreneur or an employee. Some of the skills and attributes are common. Obviously there are many differences too between them.

Having said that it is not a simple choice to make. Whichever choice one makes, it can keep coming back to the point to assess whether the other path wold have been better. Making a choice between them is tricky to many. And keeping that choice can be even more tricky for many, depending on the circumstances of their employment.

As an employee one can be working for a large or a small employer. Similarly as an entrepreneur though everyone starts small, one can exercise the choice of growing or not. In the process one can stay relatively a small firm, which can happen with a consultancy firm or one can grow their venture into a large company.

That essentially offers three paths – Entrepreneur – of a small or large company, Employee of a large or a smaller firm and Intrapreneur in an organisation, typically of larger size.

The essential difference between the three roles is the mindset. The key point is how one sees a given situation as at any given point of time. A typical employee sees a risk more often than not while an entrepreneur looks at the same situation and spots an opportunity.

The starting point to make a choice should be knowing very clearly what you can do and what you want to do. The overlap of these two aspects creates the value you can create. The former is about the skills, learning, training etc and the latter is about your temperament, natural abilities, preferences, personality etc.

From there one needs to know what value they offer and combine with what the needs are. The intersection of these two aspects determines the worth of your choice. As an employee what you offer has to match with what is needed by the employer. As an entrepreneur what you make should be needed by the market.

What’s in it for me is crucial in both aspects. When this fit is good, the stability of the choice is higher.

As an employee what you give could be time and what you get could be money. An entrepreneur what you give could be more than time and you could more wealth in return than an average employee.

But the relationship between what you give and what you get is not linear in both cases on being an employee or entrepreneur. For an entrepreneur the curve can take many forms from very good to very bad returns.

Having a good job description for either an employee or entrepreneur is key. If what you want to do doesn’t match to that job description, it leads to dissatisfaction in your role which eventually leads to poor performance. If you cannot do what the job demands, then it leads to frustration. This when the other side looks greener. On the other hand if you cannot do what you want to do this will make room for demotivation which ultimately makes you dysfunctional in that role.

The professional growth is more rounded as an entrepreneur and mostly this is needed to be an effective entrepreneur. However as an employee the skills and professional growth is close to your areas of responsibility.

There are many parameters that separate entrepreneurs and employees such as salary which is not a guaranteed fixed activity, absence from work needs more planning, working hours which can be as many hours needed as an entrepreneur, guarantee of income and even guarantee of work, career path, designation that won’t change much as an entrepreneur, stress levels because of the previous points, risk and reward equation which are skewed towards risk for an entrepreneur and most importantly decision making process is very heavy for an entrepreneur compared to a typical employee.

The skills needed are aligned though not in depth. Some of the skills that are key to making the choice of being an employee or entrepreneur are leadership, negotiation, strategizing, marketing your work, customer management, regulatory awareness, dealing with ambiguity and ability to stay connected to society and social life.

There are more differences between being an employee or entrepreneur. Freedom and responsibility is one important difference, security of money and wealth and growth along with risk and reward is another differentiation.

If employment helps you manage a living, entrepreneurship helps you manage life. While employment is about what you can do, entrepreneurship is about what all you can do. As an employee you give a slice of yourself, while as an entrepreneur you give yourself because employment is mainly about a part of your time and entrepreneurship is about your entire energy.

Before making a choice one should identify a role, a role model and very clearly understand why that role and role model resonates with them. They can then experiment even part-time to get a real feeling of what they think is true. One should also be very clear what they bring to the table and that has to be real value added stuff. There should also be a clarity of what their growth plans are which can help decide to be an employee or an entrepreneur.

What one should avoid doing is to change from one to the other when they are unhappy without knowing the reasons for that or when they are unsure.

About the author

Ravikiran Annaswamy

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