For Successful Entrepreneurs There’s a Positive Side of Bad Boss Experiences

Entrepreneurs that find success have one shared experience: at one time in their career they have reported to a bad boss.

Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo

According to the Small Business Administration, approximately 543,000 new businesses are started each month in the United States. However, a good majority of entrepreneurs who start businesses fail. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 24 percent of businesses failed in the first year, and 48 percent didn’t make it past the second year.

After working with entrepreneurs and business owners for two decades, I have discovered one common trait in business owners that succeed compared to those that fail and give up.

Entrepreneurs that find success have one shared experience: at one time in their career they have reported to a bad boss. No one wants to work for a lousy boss (I’ve had a few of my own). However, certain advantages that emerge from bad boss experiences.


Every Successful Entrepreneur Needs A Bad Boss Experience


Bad bosses serve as motivation

An experience with poor leadership inspires future entrepreneurs to build a better future–and better business.

Often bad bosses make their employees feel as if all business problems stem from the employees themselves. Bad bosses can help aspiring entrepreneurs find the motivation to prove them wrong.

Successful entrepreneurs live by the motto that “the greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” Every entrepreneur needs to think about the bad boss that they would like to show their full abilities and talents.


Bad bosses instill confidence

Many new entrepreneurs gain confidence from their bad boss experience. They realize if their former boss can develop and grow a company despite their negative qualities that they too have the talent and abilities to build a business as well. This realization often helps a team grow in confidence. They soon realize they should and could fulfill their dreams.


Bad bosses shed light on wisdom

A bad boss involuntarily gives their employees examples of what not to do. Every boss will leave a lasting legacy as an example to follow or one to avoid.

Fortunately for many entrepreneurs, an experience with a bad boss helped them learn from observed mistakes to ensure they don’t repeat them. Examine two or three significant lessons you learned from the bad bosses in your career. What did they teach you? How will you do things differently?


Bad bosses build tenacity

Dealing with a bad boss day in and day out develops tenacity. Perseverance is key success trait of today’s top leaders and business owners.

Many successful entrepreneurs use their tenacity tank to push through challenging days. It’s a vessel that has been built through setbacks, failures, and hard circumstances.

Actress Anne Baxter once gave this advice. “It’s best to have failure happen early in life. It wakes up the phoenix bird in you, so you rise from the ashes.” For successful entrepreneurs, it is best to have a lousy boss early in a career because it develops and awakens the successful boss and business leader inside of them.


Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children.


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