Almost everyone stuck in a cubicle dreams of starting his own business. Here are 5 ways to use your current gig to launch a new venture. Odds are, however, that you’re still working for someone else. Maybe it’s because you’re afraid to give up that steady paycheck. Perhaps you’re simply terrified by the thought of placing yourself at the mercy of greedy investors, cutthroat competitors, and a potentially indifferent marketplace. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that there’s a lot of unrequited entrepreneurial longing out there.
So we set out to see if we could help. We wondered, what if cubicle-bound employees could use their current gigs to launch new ventures? Of course, starting a company while employed by another one can be tricky — especially if you’ve signed agreements promising not to compete with your employer or not to hire away colleagues. Indeed, in many cases anything you invent while collecting a paycheck can be considered the boss’s property. James Geshwiler, managing director of CommonAngels, a Boston investment group, warns that from a legal perspective, cubicle entrepreneurs often “tread on very sensitive ground.”
Still, working for a corporation affords access to several things that are vital to a fledgling company: money, customers, market research, personnel. And it turns out that many former wage earners have successfully exploited these resources — legally, and in some cases with the assistance of their employers — to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. Some actually built their startups while working for someone else, while others simply tapped previous employers’ people and cachet.
All of them, however, learned to look at salaried life as a springboard rather than a prison. Daniel Curran, a management consultant who lectures on entrepreneurship at UCLA, suggests, “When you come across hidden customer demands in your job, turn them into a business.”
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