So you want to quit your job to become a Startup Founder? Read this first

by | Dec 14, 2015

The following is an extract from a Q&A thread on Quora, highlighting the original question and the most upvoted answer.


Someone asked a question under Entrepreneurship in Quora:

Should I take the entrepreneurship plunge now?

Forgive me for the long question but I’ve been struggling with this decision for quite a while now. I’m currently an (almost) happily employed software developer. Good paycheck, high exposure projects (within my region), responsible for a development division, fast career growth, I work in a medium sized business and between me and the CEO we have a mentorship based relationship.

Day by day, I feel like everything is part of a “job”. The passion and motivation are non existent, and if they do exist, they come in bursts and they don’t span over long periods of time.

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I have multiple business ideas, and I know I can make it on my own if I go solo. I’m intrigued by the risks and the freedom, I want to work on the realization of my ideas products.

The problem lies here, I’ve invested so much in my career, I’ve grown so fast, there’s still a lot to learn, there’s still a lot of challenges to solve and there’s a lot of opportunities… But I want my freedom.

If it’s relevant, I’m a high achiever in my early twenties with no savings that can sustain me during the unemployment phase.

Any advice?

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Jason M. Lekin responds:

No, you absolutely should not start something unless it’s 100.0000% clear to you this is absolutely the best thing in the world to do, for you.

TechCrunch, YCombinator, The Social Network, and all that have over-glamorized entrepreneurship:

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  • First, your start-up will almost certainly fail, and while that’s OK, you  won’t really get any credit for it.   No one cares about your failed start-up that got no traction and that no one ever heard of.  They won’t judge you.  But they won’t care.
  • Second, the risk-adjusted economics s**k.  If you are smart and driven, then risk-adjusted, you’ll make more money joining, staying, and getting promoted at a top web company.  While the comp delta between a start-up and BigCo doesn’t seem huge at non-leadership levels, it really grows if you get promoted, and get into management.
  • Third, even if you want to do a start-up, you’re far better off joining an existing rockstar/super-strong team.  Great start-ups need great teams, which are rare.  Better to join one than try to start one from scratch, which is close to impossible.
  • Fourth, it’s far far harder than you can imagine.  The highs are higher, for sure, but the lows are so low.  Most people really aren’t up for that, the lows, and can’t handle them properly, if at all.  E.g., are you OK signing a full recourse $750,000 promissory note to fund payroll, like I did at my first start-up, when all the funding fell through?

And yes, while you will have more “freedom” doing a start-up, it’s so all-consuming hard work, you probably won’t appreciate it, at least not enough, at least not while you are going through it.  It’s hard to appreciate the view when you’re glued to the screen.

Having said that, if it’s a calling, go for it.  I did.  But that’s the only logical reason.  Since it is illogical.

You have to both see something the rest of the world doesn’t see, be so confident in it that you don’t see all the risk, AND have nothing in the end “better”/higher ROI (all things considered) than doing a start-up.  IMHO.

What do you think Lekin’s advice? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Múyìwá Mátùlúkò
Múyìwá Mátùlúkò

Chief Servant. I bully myself because I make me do what I put my mind to.

On January 22, 2022, be part of the largest gathering of innovators, startup founders, thinkers, programmers, policymakers, and investors in West Africa. Register free.

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