Entrepreneurship is pretty darn tough.
Quitting your job to start a venture is like abandoning a sailing ship in the middle of the ocean looking for adventure, seeking an island sailing on a dinghy. It looks fascinating and adventurous, but not everyone’s cup of tea to face storms, possible capsizing and navigating through shark-infested waters.
Identify the reasons for starting your own business
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
If the following are your reasons for quitting your job to start your own business, then save yourself some grief and look for a better job or stay put.
Unhappy at your job or with the boss
Is this the trigger to start thinking of going your own way? If so, then first, look for a job that makes you happy.
Once you secure one, then think about starting on your own and see if you still want to give up your job to startup.
You’ve got friends who’ve started up and every other person you hear from friends of friends are starting businesses. That gets your juices flowing, but just because someone is doing it doesn’t qualify you to do it as well.
Glitz and glamour
So you watched The Social Network at least three times and got so inspired by the fancies that come with starting one’s own venture that you want to take the plunge. Let me break your dream-bubble here: entrepreneurship is nothing like that.
Co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman best describes the entrepreneurial journey: It’s like jumping off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down!
You have an idea
My neighbor has an idea, my friend has an idea, his kids have an idea. An idea makes not a business. And that doesn’t make all of them entrepreneurs.
Did you know that only 1 to 3 percent of ideas become a company – and a fraction of them successful at that? So, merely having an idea is not enough reason to start a business.
Rather, think about the execution, how will you execute it, where will you raise funds for it, how long can you go without any earnings, how will you market, how will you sell, who will manage your finances and if you fail, will you give it up?
These are not words of discouragement, but a reality check. For all that is entrepreneurship, one has to really know what you’re getting into. It is, by no means a destination, but a long, crazy journey.
The entrepreneurial journey
So what does the journey entail? These are just some of the paths you have to cross when you embark on an entrepreneurial journey.
Little or no income
Before you can pay yourself, you have to take care of all the expenses related to the business including salaries of your employees, if you have any.
Before you’re able to do that, your business first needs to generate money and enough to sustain itself and then the entrepreneur. Are you prepared to give up your salary and have a meager earning for the next few years?
Chances are that once you launch your product or service, you will fail. Because that is what happens to almost all entrepreneurs. No product is successful the day it is launched and it has to go through several iterations and failure before it gets traction.
The only difference between the successful ones and others is that the successful entrepreneurs are passionate, persistent, flexible to change and adapt, open to pivoting and want success as bad as they want to breathe when dunked head down in water. It takes ten years to become an overnight success.
If you feel you can take your idea to a VC even before you have your own skin in the game, you have absolutely no clue then about entrepreneurship. VCs invest in companies with traction and proven potential. Do not start to daydream hearing about those few companies that got funded.
There are hundreds of thousands others that didn’t get any funding. You only hear about the deals that go through in the media.
The three P’s
Passion, persistence and a problem. If you don’t have either or all, you’re doomed as an entrepreneur.
Let me elaborate. You need a problem to start with, a problem that your business will solve, which is such a great problem that someone would pay you your price to help solve it. You need to be passionate about solving that problem. Because, if you’re not passionate about it, you’d lose interest the moment you’re faced with a challenge.
You have to be so persistent, that you last the next five to ten years running the company through failures and changes in the dream of making a difference.
Once you’ve identified that you’re starting up for the right reasons and the problem you’re trying to solve gives you many sleepless nights that you spend every waking moment thinking only about how you will solve the problem, that, my friend, is your moment to validate your idea and take that leap into entrepreneurship.
So ask yourself again, are you truly ready?