Studies show that big companies have their reservations about hiring ex-entrepreneurs. Those returning to the corporate world from a stint as a founder can face institutional bias against hiring candidates with 'business owner' on their resume. "My hunch is that many entrepreneurs would actually not fit very well into established organizations," commented the author of one such study.
These findings and this quote both reflect an understanding of entrepreneurs as rule-breaking iconoclasts who often chafe when confined by the processes, procedures, and hierarchies of big organizations. It's a vision of the entrepreneurial character that founders themselves often share, and one that suggests re-joining the corporate world may worry entrepreneurs as much as it concerns their would-be bosses at big companies.
But is going back to work at a large organization always stressful and uncomfortable for ex-entrepreneurs? The Financial Times recently looked into the question, interviewing a handful of successful founders who returned to corporate gigs about their experiences. It's well worth a read in full if you're concerned that your time as a business owner will render you utterly unfit for life at a big company, but the essential takeaway is this -- going back is sometimes not only OK, but actually downright enjoyable.
Why did the founders the FT spoke with find having a boss again to be an advantage? The article by Emma Jacobs suggests several benefits of working for a big company for ex-entrepreneurs:
Real time off
Blikbook founder turned Google employee Barnaby Voss told Jacobs: "When you're an entrepreneur, you don't have proper holidays. You're doing it full time. It's always on your mind. It's very hard to get clear head space."
Training and mentorship
For Chris Doman, an ex-founder who now works at PwC, going back to the corporate world was all about sharpening his skills. "When I was on my own I picked up bad tech habits. I wanted to learn good tech habits. Now people check up on me," he explains.
The life of a founder can be lonely. Chloe Macintosh, a co-founder at Made.com, now works at a larger organization and enjoys the support of working with -- rather than leading -- a team. "It's nice to be part of something and focus on learning from others," she told the FT.
It'll come as no shock to current entrepreneurs that the lower stress level of a corporate gig was one recurring theme among the interviewees. Here's how Chris Barton, co-founder of Shazam, who like Voss next worked at Google, put it: "At Shazam I worried about everything across the company all the time. At Google I could concentrate on my silo."
Finally, serial entrepreneur Narry Singh, who moved to Accenture Strategy, mentioned that while startups are often viewed as the businesses changing the world, it can actually be big companies that reach the most people. "I valued the distribution and scale of a big company. You can have the best idea in the world but it's no good if only seven people are using it," he told Jacobs.
Entrepreneurs, does the idea of working at a big company again terrify or appeal to you?