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3 Ways Your Corporate Experience Is Sabotaging Your Entrepreneurial Success

Written by: Kathy Grassett, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Many corporate professionals get to a point in their careers where they’ve had enough. They achieved great success but reached a critical point where the non-stop pressure, demanding hours, unfulfilling work, and toxic culture no longer justified their paycheck. A good number of these folks decide to leverage their expertise and pivot into entrepreneurship to repackage their skills, call their own shots, and earn an income doing work that lights them up. And why not? Corporate professionals are beautifully positioned to thrive as consultants, coaches, and expert service providers. But transitioning from an employee to an entrepreneur is a significant shift, and the beliefs and behaviors carried into a corporate escapee’s own business can hold them back from reaching their growth and income goals.

Most service entrepreneurs will get to a point in their businesses where they get stuck. Their growth isn’t as exciting anymore (if they can grow at all,) they feel overwhelmed, and their income goals become more and more of a stretch. And when you’re the boss, no growth means no clients, and no clients mean no income.

Cue the second-guessing. “Are my offers attractive enough?” “Are my prices too high?” “Am I marketing to the right people?” “Why can’t I figure this out?” As service entrepreneurs start questioning the mechanics of their businesses, they tend to begin feeling inadequate and incapable and that’s certainly not going to move them forward in their businesses. But this problem is not because they’re not smart enough, not creative enough, or not resilient enough.

Here’s what no one talks about. If you have a corporate background, while it is a considerable advantage to running your own business, it may also be holding you back. Achieving success in your own service business is a completely different endeavor than when working for a corporate employer. It requires a completely new set of skills that don’t come naturally to someone who’s had a corporate career first. Further, a corporate professional has been wired to think, act, and make decisions in a way that benefits that type of environment and its goals. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship often requires contradictory thought processes, habits, and decision-making abilities and without them, business growth and income potential may be significantly limited.

Here are three ways your corporate experience is sabotaging your growth and what you can do about it so that you open yourself up to limitless opportunities, business growth, and higher levels of income.

1. Corporate Suppressed the Real You

You spent all those years being told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, with whom to do it, and in many organizations, you were told very specifically how to dress and look in general. You were molded to fit into a certain professional lifestyle whether you were suited for it or not. You lost a bit of yourself. You lost sight of your own identity.

And the longer you’ve been in corporate and the higher the level you reached, the more this is true. You became deeply connected to the persona you created that was necessary to achieve the type of success required in a corporate environment. So, when you come out of that environment, you may feel lost, not just in terms of the work, but also in terms of who you are as a person.

As a result, you could feel disconnected from your work and out of alignment with your direction. You’re lost as you navigate a new professional landscape. Things just don’t feel right. And the effects can be dramatic and far-reaching. For example, when things seem off, you tend to procrastinate. You’re discontent. You want to wake up and feel excited about the day ahead and when things aren’t flowing, you’re just not excited. And if you’re in a space that’s uncertain and uncomfortable and just not you (because you don’t know who YOU are,) you are likely marketing to the wrong audience, offering the wrong services, feeling awkward during sales conversations, and missing the mark in every aspect of your business. Ultimately, the results don’t materialize.

To overcome this, you must focus on much more than just business mechanics. Be open to and actively pursue your self-discovery during the whole entrepreneurial experience. Pay close attention to what energizes you, what doesn’t, what feels good to you as a person, and what makes you cringe. Notice when you’re in the zone and when you’re stalling. Become aware of when you’re doing things because you genuinely want to instead of doing things because you think others expect you to, because so-called experts told you to, or because it seems like the logical thing to do. Try new things and really notice your gut reaction to them. You’ll start to find yourself and your signature style.

What’s possible when you rediscover the real you…

What you start doing is peeling back the corporate layers to reveal the real you underneath, the you that has been pushed down, pushed aside, overlooked, and made to bite their tongue. And when you stop operating from a space dictated by the corporate version of you, you can move forward in a way that feels powerfully authentic to you and you will feel aligned and on purpose in your business. You will wake up each morning excited about what you get to accomplish that day. Decisions will be easier, and everything will flow with greater ease in your business from that point forward and enable you to end each day content and satisfied.

2. Corporate Damaged Your Productivity

If you worked in a corporate environment, it didn’t matter how you spent your time each workday. You had the security of a recurring paycheck. Sure, you had responsibilities, deadlines, and quality standards you needed to meet, but if you occasionally worked less than an eight-hour day, took a much longer lunch break sporadically, or spent most of the day chatting with coworkers, you were going to get that next paycheck regardless. This sense of security likely allowed some toxic work habits to take shape.

For example, you’ve probably mastered the act of overworking, managing an overflowing plate of responsibilities. There are so many reasons for this: projects that are taking longer than planned, admin work that no one ever accounts for, competing with others to prove your value, and, of course, because EVERYTHING is a priority just to name a few. You get used to doing all the things and working well over a 40-hour work week to get the job done. And that’s just how you get used to operating.

So, that’s how you operate your business. You’re so used to managing a heavy workload, you tend to replicate that mode of operation by overcomplicating your business. You may post on every single social media platform there is, AND run webinars, AND host workshops, AND keep taking just one more training course, AND so on. You end up working MORE hours than you ever did at your 9-5 and wonder what happened. You left corporate to have more time for the things you love and now you have less. This leads to a sense of overwhelm, frustration, and burnout – only it’s worse now because there’s no steady paycheck to lessen the blow.

The notion that you must work extraordinarily hard to earn your keep is wrong. It can be easy…if you let it. You must simplify your business model. You do not need to carry out every strategy you see online. There is no one right way to run a business. Select 2-3 primary ways to market yourself to start and get really good at them. Make sure they are strategies that feel good to you and align with your values. Block time on your calendar to focus on the income-producing activities in your business and commit to them. Eliminate tasks that aren’t required. Automate the repetitive tasks. And delegate or outsource tasks that can be done by someone else, both personally and professionally. Reserve your precious time and energy for what you do best and ensure that the work that drives results is accomplished consistently.

What’s possible when you release toxic work habits…

When you understand that overworking is not required to earn a generous income, you become free to focus on only the critical components of your business that drive it forward and avoid the fluff. Making full-time income working part-time hours is totally possible. Not necessarily on day one. But you can absolutely set yourself up with a simple yet lucrative business model that accomplishes this, so you can spend far fewer hours working your business and much more time doing everything else you enjoy.

3. Corporate Affected Your Relationship with Money

Your years in corporate were spent in an environment where budgets got cut, projects didn’t get approved due to lack of funding, income was capped, and you were continually asked to do more with less. Whether or not you realize it, your subconscious was programmed with the beliefs that money is a finite resource, it’s very difficult to come by, you must work extraordinarily hard to get it, and your income growth can only be slow and linear. When these are the beliefs wired into your subconscious, growing your own business will be exceptionally hard because they are the exact opposite of the beliefs you need as an entrepreneur. These beliefs cause significant money blocks that silently hold you back and prevent you from unlocking unlimited growth and income potential.

Every aspect of a business is affected by beliefs and habits around money. You may choose to market to an audience that can’t afford your services. You likely tend to cram too much into your service offerings because you feel guilty about wanting to charge for them. You significantly undercharge for your work. Sales calls are typically awkward and uncomfortable because you must discuss money. And your self-worth can take a dive as you ponder how you could possibly charge that much and whether people will want to buy at all.

It is imperative that you create a premium money mindset. If you don’t have a premium money mindset (and you simply don’t if you come from a corporate environment,) you are not likely going to grow to the income levels you desire, and it will be a slow, frustrating journey trying. You must interrupt the old pattern of beliefs, create money beliefs that serve you better, and implement world-class money habits to reinforce those beliefs. It’s okay if you don’t truly believe the premium money beliefs yet. Your brain will begin working to serve you evidence and possibilities that they are true if you plant the seed.

What’s possible when you establish a premium money mindset…

When you create a premium money mindset, you step into a premium, future version of yourself. A version of you that’s empowered, aligned, and making the money you desire. Your perspective instantly changes as do the decisions you make. With this new perspective, you begin to uplevel every aspect of your business - attracting high-end, eager clients; creating drool-worthy packages that practically sell themselves; charging more luxurious prices; and reaching exciting new levels of income.

A corporate career shapes you and forces an identity upon you that’s necessary to succeed in that type of environment. Entrepreneurship requires often contradictory beliefs, behaviors, and decision-making frameworks. So, while the experience and wisdom you’ve built up during your time in the corporate culture positions you exceptionally well to thrive as an entrepreneur, if you don’t spend time intentionally shifting from your corporate identity to your identity as an empowered CEO of your business, your path to entrepreneurial success could be slow, frustrating, and seemingly never-ending. But master the shift and you significantly increase your chance of entrepreneurial success to levels far greater than those achieved in corporate, making a lot more money with a lot less effort, in a way that is powerfully authentic to you.

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Kathy Grassett, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kathy Grassett is a business coach, speaker, and leader specializing in career reinvention, business growth, and money mastery after a life in corporate. After a successful 20-year corporate career in IT, she had trouble adjusting to life as an entrepreneur and realized her lingering corporate identity was limiting her potential. Kathy now teaches clients her strategies for shedding the corporate layers that are holding them back and creating a simple but lucrative business model that will power them into exciting new levels of impact & income. Kathy’s mission is to help her clients surpass their corporate success by making a lot more money with a lot less effort in a way that is powerfully authentic to them.



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