“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 and leave the country for three weeks.
Logic says not to do more than 2 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—than 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 that I am passionate about with an amazing team is incredibly powerful.
3 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 with 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 and learning overseas. I spent a good portion of my grad school traveling and gaining a new perspective on everything.
Rather than relying 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 as 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.
While 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 that it was all work and no play, as a balanced life is key, but having limited income made many decisions to stay in easier.
And it paid off.
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 then have I regretted making the leap.
Truth be told, there will never be a perfect time. But 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.
Image credit: CC by Alex Gritsay