It is the nature of the engineer to believe they can do everything better than everyone else. Unfortunately, thanks to their inherent skills, training and experiences, that belief is often true. Engineers’ logical mindset compounded with their technical expertise make them excellent problem-solvers, which is highly applicable to nearly every field. Yet, besides engineering, the best place for engineers is undoubtedly entrepreneurship. Here’s why.
What Skills Overlap Between Engineering and Entrepreneurship
Though engineers seem to perpetually be in short supply, engineering firms remain exceedingly picky about the caliber of professional they will hire. As a result, engineers need to have top-of-the-line skills, even advanced credentials like a master’s in engineering, before they can find enviable employment. Some of the skills all engineers need include:
Math. It should go without saying that engineers need elite abilities in math — certainly probability and statistics but also advanced calculus. These should assist design as well as analysis phases of engineering projects.
Data science. Perhaps closely related to math skills, the ability to gather data, understand it and analyze it is essential to engineers, who utilize data to plan and design their projects.
Critical thinking. Regardless of field, an engineer’s job is to solve problems. To ensure those problems are solved quickly, efficiently and successfully, engineers must engage top-tier critical thinking skills combined with an inherently cool and analytical outlook.
Creativity. Because engineers are highly technical professionals, creativity seems like an unnecessary trait, but often engineers are tasked with developing creative solutions to common and uncommon problems. Lateral thinking, unrestricted imagination and similar skills are beneficial.
Communication. No engineer is an island. Engineers always work in teams, be they teams of engineers in the same field, engineers in differing fields or non-engineers altogether. As a result, engineers need to be capable of teamwork, but more importantly, they need to be able to communicate effectively with a variety of professionals.
Curiosity. Young and old engineers alike must continue to learn to enhance their knowledge and skills. Without a natural curiosity, engineers will find their technical skills grow outdated and their soft skills grow stale.
To entrepreneurs, these in-demand engineering skills should look familiar. That is because critical thinking, creativity, communication, curiosity and even math are highly desirable qualifications for entrepreneurs. Engineers’ training in these skills allows them to seamlessly transfer into entrepreneurship. For example:
- Engineers can apply their advanced math to balancing budgets, building strong cash flow and performing other relatively simple calculations necessary for business.
- Engineers can take advantage of their familiarity with data to leverage Big Data in running their startups.
- Engineers can think critically about business maneuvers, weighing risks and rewards to plot the perfect path to business success.
- Engineers can use creativity throughout the entrepreneurship experience: in imagining business names and brand assets, in designing products and packaging, in solving unique problems, etc.
- Engineers must have strong communication skills to explain their ideas to colleagues, employees, investors, contractors and the dozens of other professionals entrepreneurs engage with.
- Engineers should be driven to learn more about business ownership and management throughout their entrepreneurship careers.
Natural born entrepreneurs and natural born engineers are nearly indistinguishable in their skillsets, which means it should be easy to transition from engineering to entrepreneurship.
How Engineers Can Better Prepare for Business Ownership
Still, engineers shouldn’t expect immediate success after diving headfirst into entrepreneurship. The careers are similar in their mandatory strengths, but they are not identical. Thus, engineers need to engage in some preparations before hopping into an entrepreneur’s shoes.
First, it is best to have some real-world experience in leadership positions. Engineers with master’s degrees often find themselves in management positions sooner, so pursuing advanced engineering education might be an advantageous move. Engineering managers typically claim similar responsibilities to business owners; they develop budgets and schedules, organize projects, interface with clients and perform similar tasks. Though it is possible to become familiar with the theory of these duties in business school, there is no replacement for the real world.
Speaking of, it is a good idea for engineers to enroll in some kind of supplemental business training. There are plenty of business fields that engineers never encounter, including sales, marketing and HR. Formal education can fill in crucial gaps engineers will inevitably have when it comes to business management.