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You Don’t Have to be an Entrepreneur to Carve Your Own Path

April 19, 2017

By: Brad Gessner

Being a visionary doesn’t necessarily mean having a grand idea and starting your own venture. Many of the most enterprising leaders in business chose to put their skills and experience to work with a big company. Whether you have financial commitments preventing you from pursuing entrepreneurship or simply prefer stability over uncertainty, you can be a leader of change in what some might consider a “day job.”

Find the Right Fit

An entrepreneurial mindset is becoming an increasingly valuable asset to employers, particularly in the private sector. If you are internally motivated, or a “go-getter,” so to speak, don’t just find a job; find the right match. Someone who possesses a strong desire to ideate and implement new programs is not fit for a cubicle. The hospitality and tourism industry offers a world of opportunity for entrepreneurial leaders, from hotels and resorts to restaurants, tours, and tech. If you love being around people and appreciate having no two days alike, I would say there’s a good chance your calling might be in this business.

Take Pride

Oftentimes, it’s human nature to take the path of least resistance, especially at work. But, if you want to be an impactful leader in a corporate setting, you should base every decision you make and every action you take on what you would do if the company were “[Your Name], Inc.” From there, you can make compromises and adjust your goals to match those of the company. I’ve taken this simple approach to every job I’ve ever held—in both the public and private sector—and it has always helped me keep an entrepreneurial identity, even in extremely bureaucratic environments.

Embrace Challenges

When you’re trying to make a big impact within a company that already has long-established systems, processes, and senior personnel, there will be times of frustration. Trying to make a difference in the corporate world can feel like running a race, blindfolded, with 20-pound ankle weights. You might be the entrepreneurial equivalent of Usain Bolt, but the blindfold and ankle weights will force you to run smarter. The way to build a successful career is to pace yourself and focus on overcoming each challenge, one step at a time.

Pitch Ideas

Going back to the visualization of the company you work for being your establishment with your name on it, don’t be afraid to make suggestions. Pitch to the powers that be, and see where your courage takes you. Leaders who actively participate in decision-making and problem-solving are exponentially more promotable than those who lead reactively. Fellow San Diego State University Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) Master’s Program alum Tracy Judge mentions the importance of being visible in her article, “7 Ways to Make Yourself More Promotable.”

Invest in Education

As a member of the very first HTM Master’s cohort, I can vouch for the real-world value of the program. Every class incorporates entrepreneurial thinking into business principles, and the curriculum is accompanied by professors and guest lecturers from the “who’s who” of the hospitality business. That’s not to mention the networking benefit of being around so many successful and emerging leaders alike. Is the HTM Master’s Program the first step on your path to a rewarding and exciting career? See what other alumni have to say!

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