How do I become a business analyst, after years running a small business.
November 18, 2012 4:28 PM   Subscribe

How do I become a business analyst, after years running a small business.

I am in my early 30s, and have spent the last 5 years or so managing my own small B2B services business with a handful of employees and 40+ contractors. I'm selling up and seeking work within a larger company.

In my last role, I most enjoyed optimising processes, designing workflows, data analysis (albeit on a very low volume sense). So perhaps business / process analysis might be a good fit. But I'm not sure how to get into this area.

I am drawn to data / target orientated direct management styles. Empathy and people skills are not strong points. I'm not a salesman.

I'd happily consider free internships. Is it worth applying for highly specific trainee junior business analyst roles? Do early 30s candidates get hired into such entry level positions? My gut feeling is, they don't. And I should aim for something (slightly higher) and try to pivot.

Any suggestions on how to get my foot in the door would be great. I don't want to work freelance, i want to part of something bigger.

One other thing, should I keep the ownership secret? Just list myself as the manager, I would be cautious of hiring someone who had never really working for someone else.

thanks a million
posted by molloy to Work & Money (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You could sorta be me, except that I *am* a salesman, among other things. Also, I kept a job with the company that bought my business, and have managed to do some of these kinds of projects within that framework.

I don't see why you couldn't get internships at your age. Perhaps a better fit (and certainly less financially difficult) is to take a role in a larger company that does the kind of work you're interested in, perhaps at a more junior level than you "deserve," but with the understanding that they're looking for people who can advance.

That's what my brother, who was my business partner, did, and it seemed to work for him. He actually left the business a few years before we sold out. He was in his early 40s at the time, so it's far from too late.

I wouldn't keep the ownership secret. For one thing, it will lead to evasive situations and answers. For another, I disagree that it's a drawback. Don't see it as a negative: "I never really worked for someone else." See it as a positive: "I ran my own damn business!" To have done that and been able to sell it is not the same thing as having spent the last five years in some unemployed utopian haze. You managed people, you met payroll, and you satisfied customers. That's a hireable person.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:24 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

So, as a data point, I am a systems analyst with a large financial firm who is considering the move towards become a BA and getting the CBAP certification. Our process works where I am basically joined at the hip to a business analyst for each project I'm on. The BA position is very much a people skills one - working with the business to figure out exactly what the heck it is they want and translating into something I can work with, and conversely, bringing it back to the business representatives when I tell them that in order to make our project do what they want, it will double the manpower and triple the hours, and is that really what you want to do? Not saying that's every BA position, but from what I've seen, there is a certain amount of finesse and people-handling involved.

That being said, I think randomkeystrike has a good idea. Find someplace in the industry you want to get into and find a way into them. For a BA, take a look at the IIBA ( - networking with them is probably nto bad, the forums on their site are... well, it's a mixed bag.
posted by neilbert at 7:27 PM on November 18, 2012

Seconding neilbert: a BA typically does require decent people skills. As a bridge between the business (eliciting requirements) and development or other parties, there is a need to be able to communicate clearly; interact with people one on one or in small to large groups at various levels within organisations; and be capable of convincing people to accept compromise.

You should also note that the term Business Analyst can cover a multitude of activities. Where I work, BAs extend into somewhat of a solution architect role: modelling domain entities, driving the product roadmap and often designing the final UI. I believe this is atypical and more commonly BAs will merely wireframe or not even that, often just handing over refined requirements to development.

CBAP certification does seem to be popular--I don't really know much about it though. Other important skills (at least that we look for) are:
* Using use cases
* UML diagramming: regular workflow of course but also activity diagrams, sequence diagrams, business processes etc.
* Experience of or at least knowledge / awareness of different SDLC methodologies: Waterfall, Agile (e.g. SCRUM).
So reading up on those might be useful / interesting for you.

I realise I've not really answering your key points. To that extent, could you not present some of the experience you're referred to above as BA tasks. Obviously you can't claim you were in a BA position but you can certainly focus your resume on those aspects of your history and, if there is sufficient, it may be enough to score you a junior BA gig. Good luck!
posted by NailsTheCat at 8:12 PM on November 18, 2012

Thanks very much, that should get me started
posted by molloy at 4:54 AM on November 19, 2012

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