While quitting a job you hate is easy, walking away from a career you love to pursue your own endeavor can be difficult. But for many aspiring entrepreneurs, the desire to do something on their own and be in charge of their own destiny is enough motivation to leave a 9-to-5 job -- regardless of their current professional status. However, this passion shouldn’t mean people hastily jump from a stable job into the world of startups without some careful consideration.
After spending a decade at my former company -- helping to grow it from an emerging startup into a public enterprise -- I started to miss everything that comes with creating a product from scratch. After intense market analysis and weighing the pros and cons of leaving job security behind, I knew it was time to take the plunge.
Having gone through this experience myself, here are the four things you should consider before striking out on your own.
1. You feel the need to create. Entrepreneurs thrive on creative energy, where every decision triggers ripple effects throughout the company. Without this desire, you won’t have the drive to accomplish what you need to get a company successfully off the ground. Building a solid team helps foster the creative spirit, as it creates a familial culture where everyone works toward a common goal and wins or loses together.
2. You know what you’re doing. You’ll never know everything, which is why standard advice to entrepreneurs includes hiring people who have the skills you lack. However, you need to have some knowledge of the industry and be able to add something to your startup – be it your marketing chops, network or technical background. (Otherwise, you are focusing on the wrong market or problem.)
Before I went out on my own, I spent 10 years in a career gaining experience in engineering, product management, corporate strategy and more. Those skills are essential to me as a founder of a company focused on big-data security analysis.
It’s beneficial to accrue solid experience before you start your own business, and sometimes the best way to do that is to put your full sell and soul into someone else's business.
3. You have analyzed the market. In no way should you jump ship on a whimsical concept without validating there is a potential customer base and a problem that exists you may be able to solve.
You can, in fact, be too early to market. If your amazing idea is five years ahead of your customer’s ability to understand it, it’s not the right time to launch. And of course, you can also be too late to market. If six competitors rolled out similar offerings before you ever opened your doors, your venture is in trouble.
Follow “The Goldilocks Principle.” The market conditions need to be just right before you take the leap into entrepreneurism.
4. You know what you are getting yourself into. Starting your own company is always a risk and shepherding it toward success requires serious dedication. You don’t meet a lot of successful 9-to-5 entrepreneurs. Make sure you, along with your family, are ready for the hard work and long hours that come with founding a business.
That said, you’ll find that starting your own business, particularly if you’ve spent a good part of your career working for others, can be really rewarding. There is no thrill like the one of creating something new and surrounding yourself with players who share your vision and want to help you turn it into a successful venture.
If you nodded enthusiastically when reading through these signs, then you’re ready to take the entrepreneurship plunge. There will be a lot of ups and downs, but as long as you embrace your strengths and learn from your mistakes (of which there will be plenty), you’ll discover a truly rewarding experience. Buckle up for a wild and thrilling ride.
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