How to Write a Business Owner Resume

Tim recently sold his small business after a seven year run and decided that he wanted to free himself of the responsibilities of ownership and get a job. He found a ton of information available about writing about past employment experience, but very little help for writing a business owner resume. He contacted me and asked if there were any special considerations for his resume writing.  My answer was “Yes there are.”

If you are in this group there are distinctive considerations and matters that must be tackled. If you are writing a business owner resume to obtain employment, (sometimes business owners need resumes for obtaining loans, when seeking capital, or taking on partners) before starting, there are some considerations about how you will be viewed and questioned by employers. Understanding these issues can help you create a cover letter and resume that will highlight relevant skills while offering some assurance to a potential employer’s possible apprehension. By being aware of these likely concerns in the beginning, you can align your mindset from writing through the interview process with providing reassurance to employers.

There are a variety of reasons why business owners return to the employment work force. Maybe they have sold like Tim, closed the doors due to rough economic times, chose to come out of retirement, or need to supplement their income. The reason might not seem so important to you but the answer is critical to potential employers. After all if a person was successful as a business owner why is he or she looking for a job? And if they were not successful, this can be a stigma almost worse than being fired from your last position.

You can overcome some of these objections by seeing your business experience, even if you went under, as a success. How many times did Thomas Edison attempt to invent the light bulb? Supposedly as many as 1000 times and when asked by a young reporter how he felt about failing so many times he responded “I did not fail once, I learned a 1000 ways it does not work.” Recall the excitement you had in the beginning and think about everything you learned from your business.

Employers are often skeptical of former business owners applying for work. What many do not realize is previous business owners often make the best employees. These people can usually empathize with the employer, especially if they have been an employer themselves. They show up to work, arrive on time, and often set an example for other employees. They understand the cost and value of their employment and will often strive to be the employee they wish they once had.

As with any group there are a few bad apples that are disgruntled and miserable that their businesses have failed and have not been able to swallow their pride. If you feel this way you need to change your attitude before looking for work and ask yourself a serious question: Did this attitude have anything to do with why you are not still in business?

Employers will sometimes question the “retain-ability” of a past business owner as an employee. The question is: How long before they feel a craving to be the boss again? The fact is that many business owners who become employees see the situation only as temporary. They are either working to get back on their feet so they can begin a new entrepreneurial venture, subsidizing a drop in income, or looking at a job as a sabbatical where they can coast for awhile.

While you might be seeing a job as a temporary engagement, you must assure the employer you plan on staying for a certain period. While no one can see the future, employees leave employers every day, and you are no more risk for leaving than most, be prepared to address this issue. This is case where success can work against you. Employers think: If you recently sold your business and received a windfall, how dependent will you be on a paycheck?

Some ex-business owners omit the fact they have owned a business at all on their resumes. They simply state the company name and their title and duties. (If the business bears the same name as you, this will not be so inconspicuous.) In addition, many employers now do a bit of their own common Internet investigations of potential candidates. Finding who owned businesses is fairly easy. Exclusion certainly is a choice however you will need to weigh the option of omission versus overcoming possible employer trepidation from the start. My opinion is that adequately addressing employer apprehensions and focusing on your unique experience and comprehension will outweigh omission.

Business Owner Resume

There are two main areas where you should tackle these issues; the resume objective and the cover letter. While an objective can be excluded from your business owner resume, this section can also be a great opportunity for you. Your resume objective can include a statement such as:

Seeking an employment opportunity where the application of a myriad of entrepreneurship skills and knowledge can be applied.

or:

Looking to excel in a company that can put valuable entrepreneurial experience to profitable use.

A simple one sentence objective with a powerful statement of intent can start the tone of assurance.

Make a full assessment of your job skills. Most business owners have a rich list of job skills. Include any specialty skills and your transferable skills. Your business owner resume skills should be in tune with the prospective employer’s required and desired skills.

You can get these from the job posting or description and perhaps a little digging. You will want to create a job resume focused on the employer’s needs.

You will no doubt have some outstanding accomplishments from your venture. You can approach writing statements about these accomplishments just as you would as if you had been an employee. Research power words in the Resume Dictionary and see the example statements. The difference will be your perspective. You can add a perspective statement after a resume statement.

For example:

Attention to details

Resume statement: Reviewing Quickbooks data weekly revealed several areas of overspending which saved more than $42,365. annually.

Additional perspective statement: This was beneficial in training new bookkeepers.

An additional perspective statement shows the employer a potential benefit derived directly from the accomplishment. I also call this a “resume benefit statement.”

Business Owner Resume Titles

Choosing your ”job title” can be a challenge. Were you the President of your corporation, a consultant, or a freelancer? So do you write owner, self employed, or entrepreneur? The title you select will not be as important as the skills you highlight. Pick atitle that most accurately describes your role.

Business Owner Resume Formal Titles

One person business titles
Owner
Principal
Sole Proprietor
Consultant
Freelancer

Corporation titles
President
Vice President
Secretary

Partnership titles
Partner

Franchise owner titles
Owner Operator
Franchisee

A one person business or franchise owner should choose from one of the formal business titles. A partnership or corporation title can include a formal title or not. For example a corporation title might be Vice President of Sales. When in doubt “self-employed” will suffice.

Business Owner Cover Letter

Understanding possible potential employer concerns can help you write a brief cover letter that addresses the matters. Your cover letter’s purpose is the same as every other applicant’s; to get an interview. Avoid any lengthy explanations or excuses. While keeping your cover letter short and to the point you can include subtle intentions of promise.

Example:

After an exhilarating and educational five year position as a business owner, I am enthusiastically anticipating the opportunity to apply my skills for an employer.

or:

Being the owner of an accounting firm granted me employer empathy and a desire to focus purely on my accounting talent void of business management. I seek a company that can benefit from my new found purpose and this unique perspective.

You want to leverage your experience and skills gained from self employment to show what you offer a potential employer. You can save some time with my OneClick Cover Letter Creator software. This program is loaded with cover, follow up, networking, and thank you letters. You can customize these letters for most any employer and situation.

Tim listed his skills, created accomplishment statements, and came back to me with a great start. We did some rearranging and tweaking on his resume and he used the OneClick Cover Letter Creator to get five job interviews in the next eight weeks. A company recognized his talent and any fears they might have had were diminished as evidenced by hiring him.

Because genuine and worthwhile help for writing a business owner resume is scarce, you can get a one on one phone consultation with me by appointment subject to availability. Please contact us for prices and assistance.

Phil Baker

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