Few people venture into entrepreneurship as their first gig. Compared to traditional professional careers, entrepreneurship is risky, demanding and requires more capital at the outset. Working a steady job prior to becoming an entrepreneur gives you the skills, experiences, insights and money that you need in order to be successful.
As you might suspect, some jobs are better at preparing you for the entrepreneurial world than others. Any job in the white-collar world can probably equip you with a pool of savings and some new contacts, but even simpler jobs that anyone can get will help you build the skills necessary to run a business effectively.
Working retail offers an opportunity to develop several skills that have nothing to do with running a cash register or sorting items. You’ll work with incoming customers who may not know what they want. After having a conversation with them, you’ll get a feel for what they’re looking for, and you’ll be able to match it with a corresponding product.
Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to work with disgruntled and dissatisfied customers -- probably some of the nastiest around. It’s entirely within your power to address their complaints and make things right, and that experience will help you greatly with your first wave of dissatisfied customers.
You won’t learn much about financial projections or profitability models here, but this is an extremely high-pressured environment. You’ll be forced to work quickly, multitask and shape orders to perfection under increasingly tight circumstances (and often with people who aren’t skilled at their jobs).
It’s a sink-or-swim environment that will perfectly prepare you for the pressure cooker that is entrepreneurship.
Working in sales should be an obvious move for any aspiring entrepreneur, even if it starts as just a telemarketing job. In sales, you’ll learn strong communication skills as you speak with people from all walks of life. You’ll learn persuasion skills as you get better at talking people into deals. You’ll learn about customer needs and how to meet them appropriately, which will help you develop perfect products.
4. Customer service
Customer-service reps, as they’ll likely attest, are forced to deal with people in a rapid-fire system, day in and day out. They see the worst, most demanding, angriest sides of people—and that experience will give you the edge you need in a highly competitive environment.
Keeping your cool face on while a disgruntled customer yells at you across the counter isn’t exactly fun, but it will prepare you for practically any customer challenge you encounter down the road.
In any management position, you’ll learn teamwork, delegation, time-management and resource-allocation skills that you’ll need desperately when you’re running a business. Personally, I feel that a management position prepares you far better for this than any class or textbook ever could.
If you’ve already had a few of these jobs, think back to the experiences you had during the course of your employment. What did you learn about teamwork? About leadership? About time management? These lessons are subtle, since nobody explicitly tells you any of this information, but if you’re receptive to them, you can easily integrate them into your working style.
The more perspectives and the more experiences you expose yourself to, the more well-rounded your eventual business will become.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.