Being an entrepreneur isn’t like being a doctor, fireman or princess—it’s usually not something that tops the charts when kindergartners say what they want to be when they grow up. Instead, it’s often a path that’s discovered a little later in life. Some people stumble into entrepreneurship out of college, while others may find it after getting frustrated spending years in the corporate grind.
No matter how you discover that owning a business is what you're really meant to do, there are many careers and jobs that can help prep you to be a great entrepreneur. Who knew that flipping burgers might help make you the next great business success story?
Here are four professions that will give you a leg up in the entrepreneurial world:
1. Retail sales. It doesn’t matter if you sold cars, clothes, lumber or semi-conductors—if you have a background in sales, you have the hunger that entrepreneurs need to survive. You get bonus points if you've ever worked on commission, since you know what it’s like to get paid only when you deliver. Those with a sales background know how to deal with all kinds of people, are fluent in the ways of competition and have learned how to read and cater to their target audience.
2. Fast-food service. If you’ve manned the burger or burrito station at a fast-food restaurant, you’ve learned humility, multitasking and how to put on a smile no matter what the circumstances. These types of entry-level jobs are often thankless but give you the skills you need to start from scratch. If you’ve worked the 2 a.m. shift for a 24-hour joint, you’ve also mastered the art of dealing with obnoxious customers and how to diffuse potentially explosive or just awkward situations. Modesty, humility and perseverance are the foundation of both this type of work and entrepreneurship.
3. Administrative work. Whether you were a receptionist, an executive assistant or an “Office Specialist 2,” administrative work is where you learn organization, how to wear multiple hats and how to best cater to higher-up employees. It’s where skill sets, such as learning the latest spreadsheet software, event planning and collation are needed. You know what it’s like to have a CEO who doesn’t know the difference between Excel and PowerPoint, which means you’ll never be that kind of boss.
4. Modeling or acting. You don’t need to have a portfolio that includes walking the runway for Gucci or receiving an Academy Award for Best Actor to benefit from a career in modeling or acting. Any job where you've had to depend on your outward appearance and learned that body language, dress code and nonverbal cues can help persuade people to your way of thinking can help you succeed in entrepreneurship.
The truth is, any former job can help with your entrepreneurial pursuits. It’s all about identifying the translatable skills you've learned, and these can be found in any profession. A disc jockey's been sharpening their communication skills (without visual cues), while an amateur athlete knows the power of practice, commitment and dedication.
Take a look at your past careers, and see how the skills you honed might come in handy when you're ready to launch a business.
Peter Daisyme is the co-founder of Palo Alto, California-based Hostt, a company that specializes in helping businesses by hosting their websites free, for life. He's also a member of YEC, an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
Read more articles on business startups.
Photo: Getty Images