I received a question recently from an entrepreneur about working part-time/ contract work as her startup continues to build momentum. She wasn’t sure how to talk about her company with potential head hunters. Head hunters advised her that employers could view her startup as a “conflict of interest”.
In the employers’ minds, the entrepreneur would be “taking advantage” of the company. The entrepreneur (read: “worker”) would be taking a higher rate, and leaving soon to work on her company.
My response is that there’s no “advantage” here. Instead, there’s mutually beneficial relationship. 
Some quick thoughts on this:
  • The employer is hiring a part-time/ contractor for flexibility and expertise. The employer does not have to pay for benefits, taxes (in most cases), and any severance packages. Meanwhile, the employer gets a skilled resource to address an exact business problem. It’s an beneficial arrangement for both parties.
  • A clear scope of work and deliverables ensures the entrepreneur is meeting expectations. It’s up to both parties if those expectations are exceeded (or not).
  • The entrepreneur should be upfront in her passions and what she wants to do. There is not a finite period of work at this point. It’s up to both parties to find a mutually beneficial arrangement. Again, the employer is looking for part-time/ contractor work anyways.
  • Big companies do, in fact, value entrepreneurial mindsets. These days, companies of all sizes realize the potential of more agile competitors. As such, companies are looking for capable, creative, and ambitious resources. These resources enable agility for companies.
  • Cultural fit is key. The right companies will realize fit with the entrepreneur, and vice versa. Some companies will leverage the entrepreneurial skills to bring a new product to market. Others may want the worker to augment a team and execute. In any case, it’s down to people on both sides to enable growth on both sides.

Entrepreneurial ventures can enable some of the best experience anyone can ever have. Through entrepreneurship, founders can learn all facets of the business with a real-world MBA. They’ll learn through the ups and downs of why corporations operate today. (Corporations exist and create structure to scale early success, after all.) For the entrepreneur, be confident and honest with what you’ve done. Be honest with what you want to achieve. Realize the right opportunity will enable both parties to benefit.

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