This is the column I wrote for BNET. Usually I keep my best ideas for my blog, but after I posted this on BNET I thought: Hold it! This is a great idea! Everyone should be doing this to make their career great. So here’s the post.
If you want to make yourself stand out as a top candidate for almost any job, try this approach: start a company and then sell it for nothing. This is a lot easier to do than you may realize, especially if you think of entrepreneurship as a career-building tool— instead of a bank-account building tool.
Are you thinking this sell-for-a-dollar thing is a waste of time and effort?
It’s not. Here are five reasons why it's a smart career move:
1. Entrepreneurial types are in very high demand in the workplace.
The most sought-after employees in the recruiting field are self-starters, people with tons of ideas and lots of confidence and people who get a rush from working all the time.
Unfortunately, these are also the people who start their own companies. They don't really want to work for someone else, and they almost never pick up the phone to listen to a recruiter pitch a job. So the entrepreneurial type who is willing to work for someone else is a rare find, and in high demand.
2. Doing wacky things makes you more attractive.
Sometimes start-a-business types are crazy and impossible to get along with. No one can work with them ,and they end up being mad scientists in their basements. Or, they are so nuts that they can't even manage to get anything done. These are not the kind of people you want to be like. Obviously.
But here's a great article in the New York Times that explains why the best entrepreneurs are just a little bit off kilter. They are just on the manageable side of crazy. And, the New York Times describes why these are the people in very high demand.
They are fun to work with but impossible to find.
3. Most entrepreneurs want to quit their companies.
My favorite VC-slash-blogger is James Altucher, and he explainsthat everyone is always trying to sell their company. Which I think is true. Often the entrepreneur has given it his all and he is, simply put, sick of the company. It's not that the company is a failure, per se, but it's that the entrepreneur doesn't want to work on the company anymore. The company is worth something, but not a lot, and there are not really any buyers. This situation happens a lot. So no one will be surprised if it happens to you.
Even if it happens after only six or eight months.
4. Selling your company, even for nothing, will impress people.
To be honest, you still look pretty good, compared to the rest of the world, if you say you started a company and it failed. Because the gumption and intelligence to start a company is flattering to anyone.
But you will look really good if you say you sold the company. Even if you get someone you know to buy it for a very small amount of money.
I have a friend who sold his company to Microsoft for millions. And you know what Microsoft did? Closed down 90% of the company. My friend still walks around bragging about how he sold a company to Microsoft. No one asks him if it was a real sale. What is a real sale, anyway? It's when someone gives money to someone else.
So your sale is when you get money. It can be a very small amount. Maybe a $100.
Google this phrase “sold for an undisclosed amount”. That's BS Silicon Valley speak for “the sale price sucked.” When it's a sale price worth bragging about, someone does. Otherwise, it's simply “undisclosed.” That's what yours will be. You can tell people it's a contractual obligation to not reveal the price. Which is almost always is, anyway.
And there you go: You are an entrepreneurial type who sold a company. Say that to a recruiter and they'll pay attention.