Insights and Recruiting Strategies for Employers

Do Ex-Entrepreneurs Make Good Employees?

February 27, 2022
There are a few characteristics that every manager looks for in a candidate. Grit, confidence, and proactiveness are always high up on the list. Needless to say, finding this kind of individual remains a continuous challenge for any organization. However, there is one kind of resume that always seems to tick the boxes. One where you not only find these skills sets, but other valuable assets that rank high on the list.

There are a few characteristics that every manager looks for in a candidate. Grit, confidence, and proactiveness are always high up on the list.

Needless to say, finding this kind of individual remains a continuous challenge for any organization. However, there is one kind of resume that always seems to tick the boxes. One where you not only find these skills sets, but other valuable assets that rank high on the list. 

From business planning to sales, marketing to human resources, this kind of individual really does seem to have it all.


So, who is this perfect candidate? The ex-entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are unique. They’re a rare breed who reject the stability and comfort of a conventional career to pursue their own passion and ideas.

If you’re a hiring manager, you’ll have a tough time figuring out what to make of these candidates. On the surface, someone with leadership experience will be a great addition to your company. But as you dig deeper, you might find they lack traditional qualifications, such as advanced degrees and minimum years of experience. And you’ll also wonder how these free spirits will adjust to the rigid structure of being an employee.

But before you start drafting up that offer letter, there are few things you have to consider. Hiring an ex-entrepreneur can be a risky venture. While they likely have the chops to make it in a managerial role, hiring them for anything besides leadership could be a decision you regret in the future.


1. Ex-entrepreneurs make terrible contributors

Ex-entrepreneurs, by their very nature, make for poor contributors. They might have the necessary skills for a fixed role but they’re not used to doing the same thing each day. And expecting them to do so isn’t the best use of their talent.

While you should encourage leaders to think outside the box, you need contributors to follow set processes. This expectation can drive an ex-entrepreneur mad since they’re wired to look for more efficient ways to get things done.

This isn’t to say all former entrepreneurs make for bad contributors. Many of these candidates may have realized they’re not cut out to be a leader and are seeking a more structured role. You’ll figure out their exact motivations as they progress through the hiring process.

 

2. Entrepreneurs run fast.

Being the founder of a company means you have to make decisions quickly. Entrepreneurs have to pivot and think on their feet. This ties into what makes startups so attractive; when you’re in charge, you get to make all of the decisions, otherwise you could be left behind.

One of the greatest weaknesses of any business is the amount of time it takes to make a decision. Older, larger corporations are typically known for requiring managers and lawyers to sign-off before any decisions, no matter how small, can be made.

This system would frustrate anyone, but especially ex-entrepreneurs. In their experience, it’s best to ask for forgiveness, not permission.

 

3. Hire smart and hire successfully

Effective hiring starts with defining the objectives for the role you need to fill. You then get to know each candidate and select the person who is most qualified and the best fit.

Unfortunately, making sense of an ex-entrepreneur’s qualifications is tricky. They often lack the common indicators of skill and experience we’re used to relying on, like advanced degrees and experience in supportive roles.

You should forgo hard and fast qualifications when considering an ex-entrepreneur. Let’s say you’re seeking a Head of Business Development and receive an application from the founder of a successful e-commerce site. They probably don’t have the 10 years experience the job description calls for but do know how to build beneficial business relationships. Let them talk about how they grew their business and what ideas they have for business development in your company.


Even if you find a brilliant ex-entrepreneur who is cut out to be a great leader, you’ll question where their heart is at. Will they stick around for the long haul or quit to pursue another endeavour? Determining a candidate’s passion is always difficult, regardless of their work history. Ask them why they left their company and about their future career plans. Look for sincerity and you’ll be able to make an educated assumption on where their passion lies.

Ex-entrepreneurs are not all the same


Sure, most ex-entrepreneurs are smart, creative self-starters who aren’t afraid to take a risk. But at the end of the day, they’re people like everyone else. Some make for good employees and others don’t. Trust your hiring process and you’ll find people from all different backgrounds who can move your company forward.

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