The idea of job security, benefits, and a rather predictable future is a comfortable thought. For this reason, not many are willing to go into the unknown world of entrepreneurship.
If you’ve ever felt unsatisfied with your job, wanted to make a difference, or just wanted to be your own boss, then entrepreneurship is for you. While it may sound scary, with the right mindset and planning, you can make the switch and become an entrepreneur.
To help get you started, we spoke with Sujit Kootala, a former EWOR Fellow, about his decision to switch gears from academia to entrepreneurship and what his secret was to success.
People often pursue an education and a certain career path because they think that is what will secure their future most. Though, this path is not for everyone. For many that wander off this beaten path, they find that they are better suited to be their own boss instead.
Yet, for one reason or another, many hesitate when deciding to transition from employee to entrepreneur. Be it worries or uncertainty, if you are struggling with this decision, ask yourself, “Are my concerns really a boundary to entrepreneurship, or an asset?”
According to Sujit, many of the things we think are not helpful in our goal to become an entrepreneur, are actually helpful.
Do I Need a Specific Background to Become An Entrepreneur?
You may think that a business degree or studies in economics are key if you want to become an entrepreneur. Though, this is false.
In fact, entrepreneurs come from a diversity of backgrounds that vary from no higher education such as Walt Disney to those who earn a PhD in academia from many fields. For example, Sujit originally started off in chemistry, dabbled in molecular biology, earned his PhD in the natural sciences, and worked as a post-doc at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden before making the jump from employee to entrepreneur.
In short, entrepreneurs come from all walks of life and no one set background is better than another when pursuing entrepreneurship as long as you have the right mindset.
From Sujit’s perspective, “I don’t say I have a PhD because I don’t think it matters. I think what matters is when I talk to you, do you feel that you can engage with me? Do you feel what I’m saying has substance? If the PhD is irrelevant, then I’ll throw it into the ring. But if it’s not, I just keep it away. Whether you come from life sciences, physics, or from engineering, you will have certain skill sets, and you will lack others. So that’s always going to be a given, I think you should never get scared of the fact that somebody has a certain background and somebody doesn’t.”
The Mindset and Qualities of An Entrepreneur
As we mentioned before, there is no one right background to be an entrepreneur. However, if you are looking to become a successful entrepreneur, you need to adopt the right mindset and assess if it truly is a good fit for you. Things you should ask yourself are:
Am I ready to be a leader?
Do I want to make a difference?
Will I have the courage to make innovative ideas a reality?
As Sujit noted, “Entrepreneurs don’t follow the lead. They create solutions, which people are scared to create. Those which people are scared to even imagine.” It takes a lot of grit to push through as an entrepreneur, and sometimes it will be tougher than others. Though, if you won’t be swayed by tough times and occasional failure, then there’s a lot to gain.
Going outside your comfort zone and pioneering your ideas leaves you with a great feeling of accomplishment. What’s more, is that you can learn from your mistakes and know what not to do in future iterations of your project. From this, you will gain the momentum to move forward and pursue your passions.
Making the Switch From Employee to Entrepreneur
If you are ready to be like Sujit and be your own boss, you may be wondering where to start.
In his experience, Sujit completed a master’s in Industry Management and Innovation to help him think more innovatively with respect to the business side of things.
Of course, not everyone can complete a degree to aid in their entrepreneurial quest, and that is okay! As mentioned before, being able to engage and communicate with others is essential when becoming an entrepreneur, so it’s best to hone in those skills as much as possible along the way.
It’s important to also remember that becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t happen overnight. Take it one day at a time and assess the progress you are making and still need to make. Interact with your potential customers and see what the demand is. In response, alter yourself and adapt to not only what you need, but what is currently requested by your target group.
On his entrepreneurial path, Sujit actually found us here at EWOR when searching the internet for guidance in his endeavours. After seeing what we are all about, he applied to the EWOR Fellowship program and met a warm admission.
Participating in our program helped bring Sujit to new levels of self-growth. In his words, he “…loved the challenges EWOR presents in the fellowship.” Now, Sujit pushes to reach his goals as an entrepreneur to improve the world with technology and the promises it has for healthcare.
Standing Firm in Your Decision
If you are ready to go from employee to entrepreneur, liking extreme challenges is a good mindset to have. It’s important to remember that even when you fail in the process, you can learn and grow from it.
Over time, you will become more efficient and adapted to the lifestyle of an entrepreneur. Even if you don’t know where to start, that’s okay because you already have a diverse skill set from your previous background. Plus, there are programs, like those at EWOR, that are here to help guide you.