Miuccia Prada studied to be a mime for five years before taking the helm of her father’s fashion business. That’s the kind of past business experience you’d look for in a boss, right? A boss who knows how to appear stuck in an invisible box. Not exactly.
Prada made it work. That’s not always the case.
Jump Right In – No Experience Required
The entrepreneurial path to CEO/founder is not always a conventional one. I once worked for a start-up publishing company, started up by a professional skydiver. (Insert sky diving joke here, please.) Sure, people can successfully change industries, but you have to wonder what kind of business prowess leaping from planes gives you.
I got the answer the day the company’s office furniture was repossessed.
Geronimoooo – Working for a Jumper
Jumping into the unknown is a common theme with entrepreneurs. To them, it’s a simple a leap of faith. They believe in their soul that their idea will be the next big thing. That’s admirable.
But often this certainty comes with no experience, and little actual information about the industry they’re getting into. That’s scary. And that’s where you come in.
Hang on Toto
If you’ve been hired by a Jumper, you may just be the Wizard of Oz to your boss’s Willy Wonka. You may be the man behind the curtain making it all work.
It can be a heady, enticing experience to be brought into a start-up as the resident expert. The upside is that you’ve been down this road, and you know the best route to take. The downside is that your entrepreneur boss may not trust your navigation skills.
5 Reasons to Work for the Jumper Entrepreneur
(and 5 reasons not to)
Upside: You may get input into all aspects of the business, even those outside your immediate area of expertise.
Downside: Your input may fall on deaf ears. Even the input in your area of expertise.
Upside: Want to be Director or Vice President? Maybe even CEO? Just ask. In exchange for your expertise, this entrepreneur hands out big titles like candy.
Downside: Big titles can be granted in lieu of big salaries. And despite what’s on your business card, Wonka will always control the direction the chocolate river flows.
Upside: As an industry newbie, your entrepreneur may have fresh, never before tried tactics.
Downside: There may be a reason these tactics have never been tried. As the veteran, it’s your judgment the industry will question if these tactics fail.
Upside: You may be able to send business to vendors you like, increasing your value in the industry.
Downside: Your entrepreneur may not treat these vendors well, tarnishing your future value to these vendors.
Upside: While working for this kind of entrepreneur boss, you’ll get more responsibilities then you’d get anywhere else.
Downside: See above.
Working for Wonka? Know this: Your entrepreneur boss may jump from industry to industry, but you may not. If this industry is your life long career, look before you leap.
Have you worked for a Jumper? What was the upside—or downside—for you?