“But now is not the best time” – Everyone else
Accept a dream job, graduate, leave that dream job, convince three other people to do the same, launch a startup, land seed funding, marry the girl of your dreams, move to a new city, leave the country for three weeks.
Logic says not to do more than two of these in a year. I did all of them in less than a month. If I can do all of that within a month – and survive – then you can do it too.
There will never be a perfect time to launch a startup. There will always be risk. There will always be uncertainty. There will always be reasons and people to say “not now”.
A few months ago I resigned from my dream job making more money than I was worth to start my dream company. In the months since doing so, I have never once regretted the decision. The emotion and energy of working everyday on something I am passionate about with an amazing team is incredibly powerful.
Three years ago I was working in a company with a history of taking good care of their employees over a career. Great benefits, fair pay and little threat of losing your job. Then 2008 happened. Like most other financial companies they began layoffs, at every level.
My job was safe, but I began to realize that people who had spent their lives making a career for one company were no longer insulated. People my parents age were losing everything they had and everything they had known. Retirement plans – gone, paycheck – gone, security – gone. I saw this and decided that there had to be a different way to spend my years preparing for a brighter future.
I made up my mind to make a change and decided that grad school (don’t knock it till you try it) was the opportunity I was seeking. So after working nights and weekends on various projects and applying for schools I decided the time was right and spoke privately to my mentor at work. He understood my reasons for leaving and was supportive. I spent a couple months winding down projects I was working on and moved on in May of 2010. I had a mortgage – so I sold my house to start the next chapter.
I took the approach that grad school was a two year opportunity to explore things I was passionate about. The school I chose included living/working/learning overseas. I spent a good portion of my grad school traveling and gaining a new perspective on everything. Rather than rely on classroom instruction and career services to find a job, I spent two years of early mornings and late nights working with as many projects, ideas and companies that I could. Having no income for a year puts everything in perspective. I made it a point to pursue a different path with my MBA. I was convinced that starting a company was my path post graduation. But I had no idea what that would be or how it would go.
I spent a year working with a research scientist who had a fascinating product, but no means to commercialize it. I believed that this was what I would do post graduation. That didn’t happen. And I moved on to something I was more passionate about.
If there was a record kept for the least amount of time spent in the classroom during grad school at my alma mater – I would win, hands down. However, not because I was a slacker. The classes that mattered, I took. There was no time to waste on filler classes I was uninterested in. I graduated with more experience and credits than was required, mainly due to non-classroom work and independent study classes. As many of my classmates were sleeping in until their afternoon classes and partying most nights, I was up early every morning either working for other startups or working on my own. Not to say it was all work and no play, a balanced life is key, but having limited income made many decisions to stay in easier. I was hired by a startup to handle special projects and evolved into managing the financial side of their business. Eventually the founders offered me a full-time job. It was my dream job and paid more than I was worth – I was ecstatic. However, at the same time I was working on my own startup that was gaining momentum and requiring more of my time.
The decision was difficult to leave the full-time job, pay and benefits. But not one day since have I regretted making the leap.
Truth be told, there will never be a perfect time. When you do go for it – make sure you have both feet in the boat, both hands on the oars.
If you have questions about your ideas, situation or otherwise – I’d love to hear from you.
This was also published in Under30CEO.