Article by INNOVEST Middle East CEO – Bassam Falah on Forbes Magazine

Posted on June 3, 2019 by -


For most, a job provides security, skills development, exposure and a paycheck by the end of the month. However, for many, the aspiration to pursue our own venture eventually begins occupying our thoughts.  An idea that may have started to cultivate during the various phases of our career gradually evolves to become a business plan with a timeline that includes submitting a resignation.

Many make the move from corporate to entrepreneurship successfully, while others struggle and eventually decide to return to the corporate world. To increase your chances of success, your leap should never be one of faith alone, but also of planning and preparation.

Here are six important steps to smooth the slope before you make your leap.

Discover your why?

Starting your own business is a long-term commitment. The journey is not always as smooth, rosy and rewarding as most of us may perceive it to be. It is a challenging journey that one can only enjoy, appreciate, and in some cases endure, if driven by a strong “why?”

Wanting to be your own boss, build something for yourself and enjoy the freedom are not enough reasons. You need to scratch the surface and have a deep dive into your values, your passions and a clear sense of purpose that drives you.

Reality check

When we work at large organizations, we enjoy a huge support system that complements and amplifies the impact of our contributions, such as financial capabilities, experience and skills from different support functions, shared services, leverage over suppliers, access to data and research—the list goes on.

However, it is human nature to overrate our contributions, and often we associate the overall success of our corporate role to our own contributions, and underestimate the role of the support system in our success. Taking the leap with such a mindset is risky.

It is extremely important to analyze the support system that you are about to lose, and pen down the supplemental resources and skills you crucially need for your startup. You will not be able to acquire such a support system at day one and a solution is usually to seek the support of pre-seed accelerators, or establish coalitions and partnerships that could bridge such a gap as much as possible.

Calibrating your business management gears

Startup CEOs are very different from growth CEOs, both in terms of management style and skill set. It is important to analyze your management style and the new skills you will require as an entrepreneur, and draft a personal self-development action plan to be well-equipped for the new journey.  Identifying a mentor or a business startup coach could be of great help in such cases.

Bootstrapping your personal financials

You need a clear mind and the ability to focus 100% on your startup when you make that leap. Start bootstrapping your personal expenses well ahead of your move and ensure you are free of bad debts, which are debts that do not generate any revenue. Good debts are fine if they are self-supported debts.

If you can, try during your corporate years to implant investments that generate passive income streams. These come in useful once you make the move and lose the luxury of receiving a paycheck by end of every month.

Build your new startup ecosystem network

One reality that you will discover as you make the move is that most of the business network you have was linked to your corporate business card and title and not to yourself. Make sure to manage your expectations from your corporate business network, especially if your future business depends on assumptions that involve your previous corporate network.

Moreover, the network space of the corporate environment is quite different from that of a startup.  Try to start building bridges with the startup ecosystem, such as incubators, accelerators, startup communities, VCs, Investor, suppliers and others.

Validate your minimal viable product (MVP)

Creating an MVP will give you the opportunity to test your product or service and assess your ideas as a business proposition. Validating your MVP and finetuning is a lengthy process that could be done overtime and in evenings. Accomplishing this milestone before making the leap is highly recommended as it will serve you positively in the leap.

Article Published on By: Bassam Falah, CEO of INNOVEST Middle East