RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (MainStreet) -- Think about this: Today some of the "youngest" entrepreneurs are retirees! They spent their lives in the corporate or academic jungle working for someone else. Then, either due to economic reasons or a burning passion for an idea, they started a business. Years of business and life experience working for someone else does not necessarily translate into being an immediate success as a business owner, though, and it doesn't mean you are -- or will be -- a great entrepreneur, no matter what your age.
Entrepreneurs have to be good at many things: The "product," the pitch, the sale, the operations and the strategic, long-term view. As we start down the entrepreneurial path, many of us have some of these characteristics or skills, but few come wholly formed into the entrepreneurial role.
Personally, I spent many years in finance and operations, strategy and operations, and finance and strategy, but I wasn't expert in marketing, sales, fundraising or legal matters. As I spent more time in various roles working for others I expanded my professional credentials long before starting my own business. I worked to get experience in multiple industries: banking, retailing, auditing, manufacturing (OEM and contract), electronics, home goods and more. Any role, any task, any time was an opportunity to learn more and acquire more skills. I could have spent 100 years in corporate America and never learned all the lessons that come from running and growing your own business. Until you have to do it, review it, teach it or transact it, you see only the tip of the iceberg.
Here are some of the hats you (or someone in your team) will wear as an entrepreneur: leader; manager; coach; goalie; referee, traffic cop; parent; child; teenager (rebellious); accountant; banker; investor; teacher (kindergarten); lecturer; warden; scorekeeper; timekeeper; technician; janitor; houseparent; sales representative; marketer; brand strategist; designer; clerk (administrative, shipping, receiving, accounting); pitch person (for the product, business, concept and more); student; winner; loser (oh yes!); evangelist; banker; mad scientist; desperate decision-maker; reluctant terminator (the first firing is the hardest); boss ...