The clock hit midnight. I was still in my office chair, looking back and forth between the takeout food I had eaten for dinner and the computer screen. Copy + Paste. Repeat 100+ times until work is ready for manager review. It was only then that the thought crept in my mind for the first time….”What if I really left this place and devoted a year to our startup?”
I’m a big fan of advice. Many times we’re trapped by our own emotions which can prevent us from making prudent decisions. I had decided I would ask as many people whose opinion I respected regarding the decision I was considering, and then make my decision. Some were all for it, some were against it. Here are the biggest questions that the advice I received helped me answer. A quick note – this article is not intended to persuade you to leave your job. In fact…if you are considering doing so…please message me right here….there’s a lot you should know
Alrighty – let’s get to it!
What about job security? Isn’t working for someone else safer than working for yourself?
Probably the number one reason many people continue to work for someone else is the perceived job security when you “know where your paycheck is coming from”. I find that rather interesting. Sure – you don’t need to worry about generating a profit, finding customers for your product/service, losing business to competitors etc….but is your job really considered secure when whether you should come in to work tomorrow is at the discretion of somebody else? Let’s also not ignore the risk that the people you work for or work with can be totally lame. It’s a scary thought thinking that you need to develop and market a product/service useful enough for people to go into their bank account and give you their hard earned dollars. Once you do – who do you want calling the shots? When I think of security, I think of developing the skills needed to earn a dollar. Once you develop those skills, working for yourself can be infinitely more secure than working for someone else.
What about all the hard work you spent over the years getting your degree? Are you going to let that go to waste?
Ever learn how to ride a bike? Do a backflip or throw a fastball? You can read thousands of books and watch hundreds of youtube videos, but until you actually go out and try it, your efforts are useless. That’s kind of how choosing a major in college is. We’re thrown in this environment where we taste a little bit of everything and then need to decide what path we will be on for the rest of our lives. How is a 21 year old supposed to make a decision like that without even getting a taste of the real world? Sure…there are internships and part time jobs you can get to help solidify your decision, but odds are by then you are already too far in your major to switch. How many people do you know who majored in one thing, and did something completely different afterwards? I personally know tons. College for me has been more of a safety net rather than finding out what I really want to do with my life. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to get a degree and relevant work experience so that if our company goes sour, my chances of getting back in the field of accounting are reasonable. I can only imagine though what my college experience would have been like had I had the real world knowledge I have today.
Is this the right time in your life to pursue an opportunity like this?
Running a startup is a huge time commitment… like to the level where it consumes everything in your life – your work, your fun, your friends, your conversations, your reading material, your dreams at night (or nightmares I should say). Amazing how much things have changed from the days when I used to tell strangers “I work in accounting” and the conversation would move to the next subject. Time is easily our most valuable and scarce resource. We all make decisions as to how we will split up our time. A certain percentage for work..a certain percentage for family..a certain percentage for exercise and if we’re lucky a certain percentage for fun. As we get older, our free time only becomes more and more limited (or at least until retirement). Consider the difference in free time between someone who is single and someone who is married, or a married couple and a married couple with children. In each of those instances you’re making a trade off with your free time. Where you once had the freedom to do whatever you wanted to when you were single, you now need to factor in your spouse and his/her needs. Where you once had the opportunity to see a movie on any night of the week with your spouse, you now need to factor in a newborn and his/her needs as well. These aren’t compromises of course(just the opposite), but rather tradeoffs with your time. Less me time, more time devoted towards loved ones. When you are in your early twenties…you have the flexibility to work until 3am and stay in your office for 2 weeks without seeing anyone. Even more so, you don’t have the burden of providing for other people in your life – it’s just you at this point. That’s the time to take a risk…anytime after that can affect not only you but the new people who are apart of your life.
Are you prepared to move home, sacrifice a salary until who knows how long, and put continuous work into something that may not have a light at the end of the tunnel?
This was probably the most important question that I had to answer. People have this notion that when someone starts a company, they made it big. After a couple months, they hit on this big formula that is making them tons of money with few hours of work. Couldn’t be further from the truth, especially for first time entrepreneurs. Running a startup takesround the clock work, and many times that work can be in the opposite direction your company needs, only you aren’t able to tell until the work is done. It’s not only stressful putting in tons of hours into something that you at times may see little results, it’s also real scary. You have no idea what tomorrow will bring. At the same time, it is easily the most rewarding experience I have ever been apart of. The things that i’ve learned so far have easily topped all that i’ve learned in college, which in and of itself has justified the decision to leave something I didn’t find meaning in. Working in something that you are passionate about, with people you respect, is one of the shiniest pieces of gold out there. Sure…a 7 figure salary would be nice…but there’s always tomorrow to work on that