What’s It Like to Transition from Entrepreneur to Employee

entrepreneur, employee, transition,

It’s my 90th day at the Advanced Group which is really weird for me to say. It’s especially strange considering I spent nearly 8 years working for myself and being self-employed as a HR and digital consultant. The transition hasn’t been easy, but I am enjoying my new role. I have a team who has my back and immediate opportunities to make an impact. There are a few more conference calls, conversations and red tape, but it has truly been a great experience for me.

What you didn’t know about me is that I’ve always known I would re-enter the workforce and hop back into the corporate folds. I didn’t broadcast this or even talk about it much. It’s just something that I knew would happen and over the last 18 months I met with several companies with whom I discussed the opportunity. I was extremely focused on the type of organization I wanted to work for. I was very selective about my role and how I believed I could help an organization. Knowing myself and following my instincts led me to turning down an offer which I’m very grateful I did because they imploded about 6 months after I walked away.

What I Learned in My First Ninety Days

My first 90 days being a card carrying member of the corporate working world went very fast, but not without it’s challenges. Here are some things I learned about myself in my first 90 days:

I don’t follow the rules

I don’t follow the rules or at least the conventional ones. While I knew this about myself, it was harder to follow the rules than I expected. I like to get out in the weeds and out of the box. Companies have policies, processes and procedures. Thankfully, I have a boss and team who are very patience, honest and have been very direct picking up the phone to let me know about small nuances that I might be missing. I want to keep that entrepreneurial point of view and mindset while still being focused on the business priorities.

No longer being a consultant adds new and more complicated layers

As a consultant, I was the person who made the suggestions. I built the plans and when the job or project was done I walked away. This was the part of being a consultant I liked the least. I wanted to see the project through and talk about what we learned and understand the lessons six months, 12 months and 2 years after it was complete.

Being an employee versus a consultant or even a contractor is a different ball game. As an employee, I might identify a project, establish a plan of action but as an employee, I often was already paid to do a specific thing. As an employee there is another layer of building relationships, selling your idea, identifying a partner to help you push through a project or program that I had forgotten about. This was extremely eye opening.

HR Technology Is More Complicated Than Anyone Leads You to Believe

I have spent the last 90 days focused on understanding the HR technology we use and how it works within our established processes. We can’t just abandon a system. We don’t flip an automatic switch where integrations are seamless and processes are better than anticipated.  It’s not as easy as the pundits, consultants, analysts or thought leaders believe. We can’t just abandon an applicant tracking system or LinkedIn Recruiter seats that we have used for 10 years. There are potentially millions of candidates within that system, integrations we have to consider and long standing processes and practices when we add a new HR technology.

It’s complex even when adding a new technology like a sourcing technology or a list of approved Chrome extensions. This is one thing I’m currently vetting with our IT team. (See earlier point on following the rules)

Innovation is an Art

Recruiting might not be an art. It’s rooted in data, numbers and metrics, however innovation is and it’s not just the adopting of new ideas but the art of persuasion and communication with peers, employees and partners. You have to be extremely clear on your dissipative vision and build a communication and internal marketing plan that drives that innovation. It’s the hardest work I think I’ve ever done and I’m proud to say that we are innovating.

Committing to innovation is hard. It creates a huge risk one that not many in human resources are equipped to handle. Our industry is rooted in risk avoidance. It’s the foundation of what HR was first created and built for. I’m fortunate in my role that I was hired to educate, mentor and innovate. These conversations I’m having are expected given my experience and role. In order to establish a culture of innovation and change in HR and recruitment, you have to build relationships, create a vision and hustle towards that vision. It doesn’t happen overnight. Innovation and change takes time. It’s a dance that one has to be committed to doing if their executive leadership and peers are fighting and sabotaging to keep things the same.

I have more respect for “practitioners” than ever before

Being in this role is not a death sentence. I don’t have a disease or type of terminal cancer. I choose this organization and this role because of the challenges and opportunities it brings. I want to grow and in my role as thought leader, consultant, and writer, I wanted a change. As a practitioner we’re on the front lines driving change for organizations. I’m not just focused on my personal interests but building a plan for an organization of 350 employees and the clients that we serve. My first 90 days have given me more respect for my fellow practitioners than ever before. You work hard and you are focused on the needs of your organization above and beyond your own. I have more respect for practitioners especially those in senior roles than I ever have had before.

Change is Good Even When It’s Hard

For employers who are looking to tap into the highly qualified talent pool of entrepreneurs there are so many amazing professionals who are highly qualified and can enhance your organization in ways you can’t imagine. Many consultants and independent workers would consider re-entering the workforce.  However, eight years is a long time. I have expectations, experiences and habits that might not mesh well with an employer. It was a risk but one that I’m happy I made.

Transition from entrepreneur to employee hasn’t always been easy. I’ve enjoyed my first ninety days and for the first time in a long while I’m energizing and excited about the new challenges that lay ahead. Change is good, people. Change is good.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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