Transferable skills - Corporate to SME

This is Part 2 of the series comparing the corporate world with that of an independent entrepreneur. This time, the focus is on skills that can be learned in the corporate world and transferred in the world of SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises).

Click here to read Part 1.


One of the biggest differences between the corporate world and the entrepreneurial one is, first and foremost, the size of the companies. In my case, I went from a 55,000-employees global firm to a sole-entrepreneurship. This has numerous implications, from office space, to opportunities for development and even your work-life balance.

What is really useful for me when working with smaller firms is to actually be able to structure their organisations. Very often they run behind the money without much focus or strategy. Being better structured and organised can often save them millions and also allow the company to scale. Without the appropriate structure, scaling is difficult and actually quite dangerous.

Building the correct structure involves building the correct organisational hierarchy and teams, introducing performance management systems as well as optimising the use of company resources such as software and hardware. My clients often grow for 20-odd years and then reach a ceiling that does not allow them to grow further as Founders / CEO have never worked in a bigger structure. Although bigger organisations often have a complex matrix environment, it allows them to manage multiple risks. To be sure, we do not want to add bureaucracy to the nimble structure of a start-up – but we do want to organise it in order to prepare it for the growth to come.


Another important skill that we learn in the corporate world, which can help both in the professional and personal life, is professionalism. Given the formal and hierarchical nature of big firms, professionalism is one of the critical skills everyone must learn in order to advance in the complex and political world of a corporation.

Professionalism comes in many forms, be it how you dress and present yourself, to being always prepared for a client meeting, having and communicating agenda prior to the meeting and writing meeting minutes after the meeting, or being proud and promoting your company whenever you go. It may also involve your professional conduct, be it protecting company information and data, developing respect for your boss and colleagues, as well as using the appropriate business language.