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What is this “Corporate-preneur” Movement? And WHY You Shouldn’t Quit a Good Job to Start a Business

(7 Min Read)

Today, the millennial generation is demanding an adequate work-life balance. They advocate for a the Silicon Valley lifestyle where people wear flip flops to work, have loose schedules, generous paid time off policies, and flexible work hours. There are even some companies that do not have any structured work hours at all! The work-life balance is really starting to emerge as mainstream. Because top companies are competing for talent, virtually everyone is adapting these more flexible working conditions.

This is a wonderful benefit for the average worker in the modern work force. Most people want to enjoy their time off and work a comfortable 40 hours until the weekend. They will then spend their weekends enjoying their local nightlife or curling up on the couch watching a new Netflix series.


What if you aren’t the average worker? If you’re like me, you might be a “go getter.” So what do we do about the people who are highly ambitions, highly driven, and highly competitive. For us, this work-life balance might not be exactly what we’re looking for. Therefore, some of us might require what I call an “ambition outlet.”

During my time at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I found myself working 100-120 hours per week. The only “me” time I really had was sleeping every night. Between football practice, studying, classes, military obligations, and physical training, it was not uncommon to be working towards something in excess of 120 hours per week. After I graduated from the Academy, I went into the US Army. Here I was working only 50-70 hours per week, minus a few field training weeks where it was longer than that. I noticed here, that I needed to do something with my time. I first discovered the need for an “ambition outlet.” What is an ambition outlet? An ambition outlet is when you work as hard as you possibly can at your day job but after a certain amount of energy is expended your income-impact ratio is maximized. In other words, you’ve maximized your performance in your day job but still have a ton of energy wound up that you’d like to continue elsewhere.

Flash forward a few years, I jumped from the military into corporate America. Here I found a relatively contemporary company offering benefits generally described above. I worked a straight 40-hour work week, had a very lucrative Paid Time Off Policy, and flexible hours that allowed me to work when I was most productive and not having to stress out about making personal appointments. My standard was set at working 100-120 hours per week. But here my hours were cut by over 1/3rd.

Therefore, I poured my soul into the company. I received praise, additional responsibility, and great feedback. However, the income-impact ratio was not exactly growing as quickly as I’d hoped. For the amount of value I was contributing to the company, there was an excessive amount of standards and processes that didn’t allow for the pay to grow in proportion to the positive impact I was contributing. It was here, I discovered the beautiful idea of being a “corporatepreneur.”

"A corporatepreneur is a person who maintains a full-time W2 career, while simultaneously growing a business of their own."

As I became an entrepreneur, I still maintained my full-time job. I started a real estate business, a consulting business, and my wife started a fitness business. I did all of this while I was still showing up to work between the hours of 9-5. As I studied successful entrepreneurs, virtually all the books, gurus, friends, and experts suggested “taking the big leap, go all in, quit your job!”

Likewise, all my friends who were in corporate America would assert facts such as “97% of start-ups fail, I still make more money than all my entrepreneur friends, entrepreneurs never learn the benefits of business acumen in the corporate sector.” Both sides of this discussion were right. On one hand, when you compound the probability of a successful business generating more money than my job, especially in the first few years, it’s quite small. On the other hand, if I stick with the corporate route, I will never have the ability to remove the ceiling on my income level or contribute freely to the passion of my choice.

At that moment, it hit me. Why don’t I just do both?

I was used to working 100-120 hours per week. I am a systems engineer, so I specialize in automating processes. I could easily take this excess energy of mine, and excess time I have, to build systems that will build businesses. And that’s exactly what I did.

To this day, I still work for a fortune 500 defense contractor as a Systems Engineer. I love the job, the people, the position, and problems I face. Additionally, working for a large company equipped me with tools that I can even apply within my small businesses.

I found it silly to quit something that was generating a great income, provided valuable experience, helped me develop people skills, leadership skills, and business acumen in my personal growth.

I also found it absurd to waste all this additional flexible and paid time off the company was granting me with short term pleasures instead of taking risks, building wealth, and fulfilling personal purpose.

I know that many people follow the typical investment philosophy of investing 10% of your Salary into you 401k and by the time you’re 59 and a half you will retire a millionaire. But that wasn’t my goal. My goal was to have millions before I was 40, or even 30. The only way to do that was to start a business. However, when I was reading about successful investors (billionaires) all of them had one trait in common. They all looked at risk reward as asymmetric risk versus reward. In other words, they were looking for the highest possible upside for the lowest downside. Not the highest upside, nor the lowest downside. This was when I decided the lowest financial downside would be to keep a high paying cash flowing corporate job. The highest potential upside was to invest my savings into a side-venture instead of a silly mutual fund managed by my company’s discount broker. The only risk with this plan was it would take significant toll on my time. But this when I became a corporatepreneur.

Here are some indicators that you might be a good candidate to try the corporatepreneur lifestyle:

  • You are highly ambitious. This means that you seriously want to be the top 1% of performers in your career or company. However, you might not see the company move as fast as you move. Meaning, you might be making a splash and making the company money, but the company can’t pay you what you’d like because it’s a large organization that moves slowly. As a highly driven ambitious person, you want to see progress. Starting a side business will give you an outlet for additional progress in the form of monetary benefits.

  • You are extremely high energy. What I do is nuts by most people’s definition. Working a full-time job is more than enough work for most people. However, I am not most people and you might be either. If you want to keep winning when you step outside the door of your current employer, you might need to create that “ambition outlet.” It’s much more satisfying to see results immediately in your entrepreneurship world and helps you maintain patience in your current role. You are scratching the contribution itch with your outside role.

  • You are an ultra-competent professional. Just to be clear, a corporatepreneur does not mean ‘slack off’ at your current job so you can develop your side hustle. It means that you have given so much to your current job that you have reached a level of diminishing returns. Therefore, you have reached a level of competence in your job to where you are still performing at a high level. So, you take the remaining time and energy you have at the end of every day and dump that into your side business. You should first satisfy your career requirements and then satisfy your entrepreneur requirements. In order to pull this off, you should be an ultra-competent individual and have no current performance issues with your current career path.

Here’s who corporatepreneurship isn’t for.

  • People okay with the status quo. This not for people who are comfortable with what everyone else does. If you are okay being average than this is not for you.

  • People comfortable with their current situation. If you are okay working your 8 hours and then leaving, cracking a beer on the couch, and watching sports all night then repeat, then this is not for you. This lifestyle is for people who want to be the best they can be at every single level and challenge that direction.

  • People that don’t want to ruffle feathers. You may be challenged by your company at some point when your business becomes successful. If you are afraid of that confrontation, then this might not be your path either. Mind you, you should always understand your corporate policies and understand organizations or ventures are acceptable within your companies ethical guides.

  • People that want to be full-time entrepreneurs. Some people never want to be told what to do and how to do it. Therefore, they might not ever want to do the corporate thing. And that's okay too!

  • People who are business operators. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs that could easily automate their role or delegate a majority of their work everyday. However, they are business operators and business owners. Think of a hairstylist or an attorney for example. They may own their practice, but their hours and labor are required to generate income. I coach several people who want to transition from business operator to business owner but that is a separate conversation. The point here is that business operators may not have a business model developed yet to be able to work a full-time job alongside their side hustle.

Now, if you identify with the above, then corporatepreneurship may not be the best strategy for you. But if you are interested in the benefits of it, keep reading. After investigating the benefits of being a corpratepreneur, you will find some people who say, “well, why not just quit your job completely and do a full-time entrepreneurial game then?” That's a great question. So here are a few GREAT reason’s not to quit your job:

  • It’s easy. It might be quite easy for the high amount pay.

  • You love it! You may thoroughly enjoy your work.

  • Great experience. People underestimate the value of the general business competencies one can acquire while working in a corporate setting.

  • High Income. Some of you may be professionals with a very high salary that would be silly to stray away from. To put it in perspective, let’s say you make $100k a year. If you’re business as a 10% profit margin, you will need to be doing $1MM in sales to make the same amount of money.

  • Military Obligation. Some of you already have committed to a certain period of years as a military obligation. Therefore, you are on the hook for a full-time job for at least a few more years.

  • Flexibility. You might have a lot of flexibility with your job whether its flex time, PTO, summer’s off, etc. It would be foolish to give up a great a benefit like that in a competitive workforce.

  • Problem Solving. You might really enjoy the complexity or gravity of the problems you solve. I know for me, my systems engineering job has way more complex and challenging problems than my businesses due to the nature of the work. Solving complex problems keeps me sharp and it’s fun!

  • Being part of a team. One of the best parts of human nature is our ability to love partaking in a team with a big mission. If that’s your job then it would be foolish to give that up. You might love the community and friendships associated with your work.

  • Stable and secure. Like I mentioned above, this might provide you with the stable means invest into something, support your family, or pay off debt from previous decisions. The stable income gives you comfort so you can think freely.

Those are some of the reasons NOT to quit your job to become an entrepreneur. However, most people will never start a business because those things I described above are so enticing. Remember, if you are just in it for the things listed above, then being a corporatepreneur is not for you. Corporatepreneurship is for people who are driven for the top tiers of success and want to be develop high income levels early in their careers. So, here are a few reasons why you should start a small business in addition to keeping your corporate job.

  • Your impact to income ratio. In a corporate job, your income is often more correlated to time then impact (though not always). Therefore, in the entrepreneurial world, your income is usually a direct reflection of your competence in the marketplace. While corporate settings can bog down your income growth with office politics, timelines, young age, HR policies, etc. Your impact to income ratio improves significantly when you don’t have the red tape slowing you down.

  • Need for an ambition outlet. I’ve watched many ambitious people give up on their dreams for achievement because they were beaten into mediocrity in a corporate setting. Sometimes, your ambition exceeds the capabilities of a large business. In other words, you are too much a visionary and want to change the world, but the company moves to slow for you. Therefore, you don’t want to waste this energy. The world still needs that energy. Give that energy to your side business and watch it grow.

  • Job Insurance. I’m not talking about health insurance benefits that your company might offer. I’m talking about what if your companies fires you? What if you say the wrong thing? Piss off the wrong executive? Make a critical mistake? No one wants to be fired, but if you have another business running in the background, you have self-insured yourself from unemployment. You already have a cash flowing backup plan should you industry decide to do a massive layoff.

  • Fast track to wealth building. The average millionaire has 7 streams of cashflow. Most people only have one. Therefore, if you create a side business you can add to your streams of cashflow. This will fast-track to you on your route to serious wealth building. For example, my side businesses each gross more money than my full-time job, separately. This puts me in a great financial position to continue investing and growing my businesses.

  • Hobbies that pay the bills. Most people jump into a side business that they genuinely enjoy. Therefore, their side business is closely correlated to their passions and interests. This creates a hobby that ends up paying for itself.

  • Brings fulfillment and meaning. Most people work their job because of many of the reasons I mentioned above. However, they feel deeply connected to something else that’s much more meaningful. Being a corporatepreneur gives you an excuse to pursue your passion with virtually no downside. This might be all you need to get started living the dream you had since you were a child.

I am so tired of this dichotomy between corporate and entrepreneurship. People think you have to choose between the two. Why can't you have both? Even if your side business starts taking over control, having a corporate job forces you to consider your time involvement in the side business. Therefore, you are forced to automate and hire people to establish systems for your small business. Think about it. The CEO of a large company has dozens of small companies within their company. How do they pull it off? They have developed systems, hired people, and trained people. So why can't you do this on a micro-scale. Find out a way to develop a system that works for you. Even if you have to quit your day-job, you have at least established a risk free transition plan into the world of entrepreneurship. This is an example of that asymmetric risk versus reward we talked about. This is THE way of having your cake and eating it too!

Okay, so now you’ve decided you want to be a corporatepreneur and start the process of owning and operating a business while working your day job. How does one decide on what to do? Fortunately, I have carefully developed a strategy that allows you to narrow down what business you want to start based on your personal strengths, personal passions, and marketability of your idea. The next step will be how to create REAL income from this idea. Finally, I will show you how to put that idea on autopilot by automating systems and processes specifically to your business or industry. I’ve helped over 20,000 corporatepreneurs, entrepreneurs, and wantrepreneurs alike find their purpose in their business. I offer FREE personal phone calls and strategy sessions, so I can show you exactly how I was able to automate all my side businesses while I continue to develop my career as a systems engineer. Click here to set up a FREE one-on-one appointment with me, myself and I! That is one thing I do not automate, helping people build plans for themselves. Feel free to click the link.

Also, be sure to checkout the video above where I am hosting an active business retreat to help corporatepreneurs and entrepreneurs triple revenues in the early phases of their business!


#smallbusiness #management #corporate #career #businessleadership #business #entrepreneur #consulting #linkedIn #aaronarmstrong #ArmstrongVentures

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