Jumping off the corporate diving board and into the deep pool of entrepreneurship


Imagine you’ve got a plush corporate job with a cushy salary, weeks of vacation time and all the benefits and perks you could think of. After all, you’ve worked hard climbing the coporate ladder to get to where you are now. But something just feels off. You’ve had a burning desire to do things differently, or to design that product you’ve always obsessed about. The thought of starting your own company keeps you up at night, and you’ve finally come to the conclusion that now is the time to risk it all and chase your dream. So what should you be thinking about as you prepare to take that leap of faith?

You have to truly believe in what you’re building

If you’re not feeling fire-in-the-belly passionate about what you’re about to embark on, don’t do it. Entrepreneurship, whether you’re employee number one or joining a small team, requires an incredible amount of devotion and energy. To begin with, there is no guarantee that your startup company will be around in the next few months, or even weeks. A lack of passion is a guaranteed way to shorten its lifespan even further. Remember, you’ll be asked to sell, work late, and you’ll face lots of rejection. Without a burning belief in what you’re building, you’ll fail.

Forget the prestige

If working for a prestigious company with name recognition is important to you, the startup life may not be the right fit. If you’ve been in a company for a long time, your reputation can often be tied to that of the firm you work at, so don’t be surprised if things change when you decide to leave the giant ACME Financial Services Corporation to build a better coffee maker at your startup. While some will commend you for taking the risk and putting all your chips into a company that could take off, others may look at your differently. In the end, it really doesn’t matter what others think. Follow your heart (and a healthy dose of your brain, too!) and do what feels right.

You still need top talent

It’s safe to say that the majority of today’s workforce does not have a high risk tolerance. More often than not, the security of a large scale corporation that can provide benefits and an almost guaranteed paycheque is just as important as how much one’s salary is. Startups aren’t for everyone, and that can make attracting top talent tough. Young companies rarely have large amounts of capital on hand for competitive salaries and benefits. Remember, you likely took a pay cut yourself by leaving the corporate world for the chance at building something amazing. So when you do find the right people who share your vision, the results speak for themselves and the synergy that comes from that can intoxicating.

Never settle

Your new company is exactly that: your company. That means you get to decide who you work with, how you work, and what you do for a living. You should never feel like you’re compromising your vision simply for the sake of a piece of business, or your morals for the sake of profit. Pivoting your business to meet the needs the market is telling you it has is one thing. But to settle for what someone else thinks you should be doing is entirely another. The former will make you successful, while the latter will erode your confidence, make you sour on the concept of entrepreneurship and make you feel like you’re working to chase someone else’s dream rather than your own.