How your current job can help you in starting your own business

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Are you ready to leave your job but not necessarily walk away from the field entirely? Maybe there are factors about your particular position or employer that make you restless and wanting to escape but you are interested in doing something on your own related to your current industry. Are there things you’ve learned on the job that will be invaluable to you in launching your own business?

Perhaps you like the industry you’re in but your current job is unsatisfying. Maybe it’s personal dynamics or a long commute that you are unhappy with, not the field itself.

I just read a former brand manager at Proctor and Gamble and an account manager at Welch’s who left his lucrative position to launch his own beverage company.  Steve Hatch was senior VP of sales for TradeWinds, maker of ready-to-drink iced teas, when he identified an unmet need. From his experience in the beverage industry, he knew that coffee is a $50 billion business and that convenience is an important factor for consumers. No one was making a ready-mixed flavored coffee with milk and sugar in its own microwaveable container. It was a niche waiting to be exploited.

Hatch’s knowledge of the industry enabled him to set up a canning plant in Wisconsin and collaborate with Campbell Soup Co. to make the container.

Identifying a need and manufacturing the product are all terrific but what really makes a launch successful is knowing how to bring it to market. This is where Steve’s previous industry experience proved priceless. From his work with other beverage companies, he had relationships with key contacts at the major retail chains and managed to get his product on the shelves at 1800 Walmart stores.

What have you learned in your career as an employee that you can carry with you to your own new venture? Are there unmet needs that you recognize or an unserved market sector? What’s lacking in your industry that you can create a solution for? Who do you know from your work experience that can help you make it happen.

What contacts have you made that will be helpful in getting your own product to market. Have you developed relationships with suppliers, brokers or buyers? Would you know how to source products for your new business, where to buy raw materials, how to manufacture and distribute?

If you’re even considering leaving your job to start your own business, begin keeping a list of all the contacts, sources and industry knowledge that you can take with you. Industry relationships and intellectual resources may prove to be your most valuable start-up assets.

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