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There are many benefits to running your own business. You have the flexibility of setting your own hours and making your own decisions. But of course, there are many drawbacks, too, including feeling responsible if your business fails.
If you had to close your business, then you are likely grappling with feelings of guilt, shame, and disappointment. As Ask the Headhunter’s Nick Corcodilos explained, the first thing to recognize is that closing your business doesn’t make you a professional failure.
“Don’t confuse your technical skills with your ability to manage a business. Failing at running a business doesn’t mean you’re a failure professionally,” he said.
When your business fails, you may be interested in transitioning back to where you were before – the corporate world. After the dream of owning your own business is dashed, many people long to return to the safety of a corporate job.
“Months or years into business ownership, I have had clients tell me that however many hours they might have to work in corporate, executing on someone else’s strategy would seem so much easier than having to come up with the strategy, do the marketing, sell the work and then deliver the work,” said career transition coach Catherine Morgan.
If you’re not interested in starting a new venture just yet, or are missing the security of a corporate job, how can you get a job like the one you used to have back? Here are our top tips for getting back into corporate after a failed business.
➡️ Take what you’ve learned in your business to guide your direction.
Many people want to start businesses, but others are simply unhappy in their corporate jobs. So, if you were unhappy before your entrepreneurial venture, you should use what you appreciated about your venture to lead you to your next role. Were you able to live your mission and values? Were you able to play to your strengths? Identifying what you appreciate about your business will help you choose the right opportunity.
What’s more, you don’t have to slink away from your network and even your investors when looking for a new job. Not only could you use these contacts to find new opportunities, but they may even be a boon for you in the interview.
“This network is often a value add for your next employer, as is the fact that you built it from the ground up. If you can claim a vast, deep, and perhaps even loyal network, be sure to spell this out!” said resume writer Virginia Franco.
➡️ Use your application materials to explain what you’re looking for.
In writing your application, it’s important to explain what you’re looking for to recruiters. In your professional summary sections on your resume, for instance, you should explain that you’re interested in getting back into corporate, either on a full-time or contract basis.
You should also explain that you ran your own business that had to close for whatever reason. You can decide how explicit you want to be about why you decided to shutter your operations, but it’s better to talk about how your business failed right away rather than keep recruiters guessing about how you spent the last years of your life.
➡️ In the interview, mention what you learned in running your business.
You also want to mention what you learned in operating your business, focusing on the lessons that you think would translate back into the corporate world.
“They can talk about what they learned in the process. They can talk about how much harder it was than they expected. They can talk about becoming a great time manager and learning to be self-directed. They can talk about how great it will be to work with a team again after being in a resource-constrained situation,” said Morgan.
➡️ But also talk about how you’re ready to transition back to corporate.
At the same time, mention how you’re ready for a corporate environment again and are no longer harboring any entrepreneurial goals. You don’t want your potential employer to think that you’re only biding your time until you can start your new venture.
Corcodilos suggests talking about how running a business was more than you bargained for, and though it was a learning experience, you would rather work at a company. Then, mention something you missed about the corporate world while running your own business, like the collaboration or the already-set strategic plans.
You also want to say that you’re ready to be back on a team and be managed. If a recruiter thinks that you won’t take direction well since you’re a former business owner, they will be less likely to hire you.
➡️ Don’t let interviewers use your experience against you.
At the same time, you should feel like your experience as a business owner is valuable to the company, not something that you have to shy away from. If the hiring manager is giving you too much hassle about your previous venture, the company may not be right for you.
“If you find yourself feeling like you have to explain yourself too much or that your experience as a founder isn’t viewed positively, don’t waste your time,” said startup and VC investor writer Sophia Kunthara.
Getting Back into Corporate
After a failed business venture, you may be ready to work towards someone else’s goal. In seeking a job back in the corporate world, focus on what you can offer the company rather than dwelling on your feelings of failure.
If you’re a long-term entrepreneur looking to transition to the corporate arena, check our article, “How Do I Find a Job After 20 Years of Self-Employment?”