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I work for a company now but I want to eventually start my own business. In the mean time, I want to learn, earn, and network at my current place (or another) so I am eager to take on new roles and responsibilities.

Should I mention to my manager (or future manager if I interview for a new job) that I want to eventually start my own business in the future?

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I would not mention wanting to start your own business "in the future", for several reasons :

  1. It may not happen

  2. It is not relevant - you are not handing in your notice yet

  3. The manager could "skip" you for training as you are not committed to the company.

Just imagine if you have told your manager of your plans and then there is a 2 year MIT (Management In Training) post to be filled. If the manager has the choice between you and one other, who is likely to be picked? You, who will be leaving or the other employee who is more likely to stay (ignoring other external factors marriage, family issues etc).

So, work towards goals of progression, training and networking and if future plans work out then that is just part of life.

  • Thanks for your input. When I asked that question, I don't know if telling my manager my future plans will open any doors (you never know!). And in this day and age, I don't know if many people are truly "committed" to a company. – Dombey Aug 5 at 4:55
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    Tell the manager and it could "close doors" permanently - you could be laid off and someone else kept... – Solar Mike Aug 5 at 4:57
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    @Dombey In general, Solar Mike's answer is the safest bet. If you truly feel like your manager is the type of persion would embrace the idea of you starting your own business, and try to get you ready to break off on your own, then it may be good to tell him, but you would know that better than us. All we can do is tell you that in most cases it is not the case, so it is often not worth the risk. – さりげない告白 Aug 5 at 4:59
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While I somewhat agree with @Solar's answer, I'd like to offer another perspective to it. It totally depends on your manager and the context in which you are talking as to how your statement is taken.

Not every (sane) manager essentially takes this as a red flag. It's commendable to have goals towards professional progression. Running a business is not an easy endeavour and eagerness to do so shows professional ambition and strong will power.

Having goals to setup a business doesn't mean you aren't loyal to your current job and employer. Everyone needs a job initially to make a living as well as grow professionally. Even most of your seasoned and highly successful entrepreneurs started their career working for someone else.

In fact if you end up getting successful, it will likely benefit your network, your team and even your current employer professionally (more than you realize).

Now about the second part. Your mentioning about it should fall under proper context, so as not to be taken otherwise by your current or future manager, or the employer. The tone should never coney intentionally or unintentionally that you aren't committed to your current responsibilities.

  • "if you end up getting successful, it will likely benefit ... your current employer professionally" Are you saying the success of his future business will benefit his previous employer? That seems very unlikely. – RJFalconer Aug 5 at 11:16
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A positive example:

A guy I worked with did this very well. He was always very open about his ultimate goal: to become the CEO of his own company. He took different roles that helped to him to prep for his goal (product management, sales, business, technical, etc.). He did great work, his ever expanding background became very useful and so everyone was happy.

When the time came and he left, we threw him a big good-bye party and wished him well for his new adventure. This worked out great for all parties involved.

Obviously that depends a lot on the cast of characters involved and on the company culture, but this can be a very good thing.

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