It is a story I’ve heard many times before.  A candidate comes to me dejected looking for a new opportunity after working many years at a real estate company. 

I scratch the surface to learn more about what happened.  They proposed an idea they felt very passionately about and their company initially picked it up but then, in the candidate’s eyes, failed to follow through with their end of the bargain in some way, shape or form.

By the time I meet them they will either be evaluating whether to join a new company or simply take back their idea and go out on their own.

For these types of candidates, roughly half choose to join another firm with the other opting to take the risk and start their own company.

The ones that start their own firm, their actions demonstrating their belief and commitment to their idea, what I usually hear isn’t they are after just the money.  They are passionate about what the idea can bring to the market, like a prospector who sees some unknown inefficiency they and their company could fill the need for.

That isn’t to say money isn’t a factor.  I mean to say for these people, it isn’t the primary motivator.  The trend I see is that these types of employees are the evangelists for their cause and after the initial commitment by their company, something along the way failed to meet expectations in this candidate’s perspective to elicit a meeting with me. 

The web diagram of failed expectations are usually a combination of the following factors; not enough resources allocated to the initiative, not enough recognition given to the candidate for their contribution in both reputation and compensation.  The third factor is having the initiative moved elsewhere within the organization away from the candidate’s participation and leadership.

The last factor is interesting in itself as candidates become specifically dejected by other people running their ideas who they perceive as not caring or capable enough to properly execute.

If you are a C-Level executive reading this, you might be thinking there are two sides to every story and I agree.  

From the candidate’s side, some trends I see are that sometimes the candidate had too high an expectation about what the company could commit to the idea.  While this type of candidate is often very knowledgeable about what they want to start, they sometimes can be too subjective to realistically look at what they need from the company in order to start the initiative. 

For example, a candidate might say they need 15 million dollars, a 10 person staff and CBD office space to get started.  Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs never had that much to start with so candidates often need to learn to pare their ideas down to meet MVP standards – the Minimum Viable Product. 

Another common candidate error I hear is that they display a lack of understanding about who in their company is the ultimate decision maker and how to access them.  In Japanese companies, pitching your bosses’ boss is a punishable offense so candidates often rely on the ringisho system; an idea handround sheet that outlines the initiative and is stamped up the corporate food chain until it gets final approval or rejection.

This leaves the candidate relying on their immediate manager to accurately outline the passion the candidate has for the project.  These rejections are often very blunt with little recourse.

You might ask why the candidate’s error and not the company’s?  Sure the ringisho system is unforgivingly rigid, but if the candidate is serious about starting their own business based on their idea, then it will be up to them to convince clients that their idea is worth paying good money for.  

So the candidate needs to know how to sell the idea in order for it to be a successful business and if they couldn’t get any traction in the ringisho system then maybe they aren’t able to sell the idea well enough yet.  

Finally, another common candidate error I see is their belief the CEO is omnipotent in their rulings.  For larger initiatives, the CEO can’t simply stamp their approval to commit significant resources to an untested idea.  They need board of director approval first. 

While the idea might be great and relevant, if the CEO can not get the board to agree then the candidate has no choice but to start out on their own if they feel that strongly enough about the idea. 

Again, why is this the candidate’s error and not the company?  Because in this instance the candidate shouldn’t be dejected and disappointed but rather see the obstacle as something to overcome.  As an entrepreneur, overcoming obstacles will take up the majority of your time. 

So in the end, there are two sides to every story.  

From the company side, leadership needs to find ways to remove obstacles so approvals can be decided swiftly and once approved, appropriate resources are available to give the implementation the best chance to succeed.  At the same time, the candidate’s recognition of their contribution should be protected, thus creating an example of corporate practices that other like minded staff can reliably expect for their own ideas.

At the same time, candidates need to make sure their expectations are in line with what their company can realistically provide for implementation; making sure they are prepared to implement the MVP as proof of concept with bare bones resources.

Career passion is a very subjective thing however if done well by both sides, I’ve seen it work given the range of companies I work with.

If you are interested in hearing more than I am interested in speaking more.  Contact me to see if my talent acquisition skills can add value to your organization. 


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