There are a lot of responsibilities that come with starting a business, from writing a business plan and fundraising, to hiring employees and marketing your product. The life of a business owner is no walk in the park. At least entrepreneurs don’t have to write a resume...or do they?
A surprising amount of prospective entrepreneurs believe that after they start their own business, their days of writing a resume are over. Yet, if you talk to most seasoned entrepreneurs, they will explain that this is simply not the case.
Just ask Christina Erst, entrepreneur and president of VIP Southern Tours. When she first applied for a business loan she admitted that she felt a bit "blindsided by a request for a resume." This feeling of surprise is all too common among entrepreneurs because resumes are rarely associated with business ownership.
So what are the reasons a business owner might need a resume and how do you write one?
Why Entrepreneurs Need a Resume:
1. Potential clients and investors will want to know your credentials
Don’t expect to see a dime unless you can convincingly demonstrate your expert background and qualifications. Both clients and investors need to be able to trust the people they are getting into business with. A well-written resume is a big step in building that trust.
Specifically, in order to answer an RFP and bid on a contract from a large company, you will almost always be required to submit the resumes of your management team. Resumes are also a standard request during the fundraising process. Whether you are trying raise money from private investors or obtain a loan from a bank, you will certainly be asked for some form of a bio.
2. Your resume is the foundation of your brand
You can be certain that prospective customers or partners will conduct thorough research and scour your social media accounts to ensure that there are no blemishes that might dissuade them from doing business with you. In order to present the best impression possible, make sure to keep your online presence squeaky clean and professional.
Your online marketing channels (LinkedIn, company website, and social media) should be used as tools to help prove to your clients why you are more qualified than your competition. This is where your resume comes in. The information included on your resume serves as a foundation for your company’s marketing materials and the basis of your brand.
Additionally, you may find a resume to be useful when participating in other brand-building activities like:
- becoming a member of a professional industry organization
- applying for a certification specific to your industry
- applying as a speaker at a conference
3. You may decide that business ownership is no longer for you
As nearly 50% of businesses fail within the first five years, it’s quite common for entrepreneurs to reenter the workforce as employees. However, giving up on entrepreneurship doesn’t have to mean that the time spent running a business was a waste. Owning a business is a valuable experience that can help mold individuals into well rounded employees capable of filling a wide variety of job roles. Specifically, entrepreneurs can fit nicely into positions such as sales and marketing managers, business consultants, or financial advisers.
How to Write a Resume for a Business Owner
Now that we have established that a resume is necessary for business owners, the next question is, "What are the key ingredients that make an entrepreneur’s resume standout?" The truth is that the fundamentals of the resume will remain the same, but there are a few key elements that an entrepreneur should include. Here are the major points that you should keep in mind when writing a business owner resume:
1. Consider using a functional format
Jeff Adams, a career coach at Charlotte Works, recommends using a functional resume format. "A more functional resume may be more useful in this context, because it is often solely focused on skill sets, accomplishments and attributes of the individual," says Adams. Highlighting the qualities that make you an effective business owner goes a long way in assuring potential investors and clients that you are worthy of their business.
Adams goes on to suggest that, "You’re not just selling your business, you’re selling yourself, so you still need to put forth a very powerful resume that speaks to your target audience and gives them what they want and need to know about you and what you can do for them. Be heavy on the quantification and pointing out your strengths. People love success stories, percentages and statistics!"
2. Highlight Your Accomplishments
"The best format of a resume or biography is the one that best articulates your track record," explains Patrick Doherty of Lighter Capital. Since an entrepreneur is often a jack-of-all-trades, it may be tough to narrow down your skill sets. So the key here is to translate your most relevant qualifications in a way that resonates with the needs of your audience. Create a list of your most pertinent accomplishments and pinpoint the ones that are in line with the clients/partner’s goals.
The Associate Director of Partnerships UCLA, Sheila Benko, explains that a simple way to add your achievements and get your resume noticed is to create a "traditional profile at the top, tailored with a quick summary to specifically target your business prospect." Adding your strongest achievements in the introductory summary will help capture the attention of your audience.
3. Use the 'PAR' Method
Jennifer Magas, Vice President of Magas Media Consultants, suggests business owners use the ’PAR’ method to create the most compelling bullet points. "Organize your bulletpoints for each of your positions using the PAR acronym, or Problem, Action, Results," says Magas. "Quickly illustrate your worth by outlining a problem you dealt with for a client, what specific action you took to solve that problem, and how your solution ultimately benefited the organization in terms of saved money or time." Illustrating your achievements with hard statistics on your resume is vital to convincing potential clients that you are able to help them achieve their desired goals.
No matter what career path you choose, the resume always finds a way to remain relevant - there is no escape. For entrepreneurs, writing a resume can feel even more burdensome as it can be difficult to hone in on specific skills to target a particular audience. Finally, if you are still a bit stumped, resources like free resume builders and resume examples might be helpful in providing you with a good starting point.
Are you an entrepreneur? Ever needed a resume? We’d love to hear your story below!