Most of these people are my former classmates, and having recently graduated a Master’s program focused on providing the skills necessary to be an “entrepreneur”, this is a valid question. The mere existence of this type of program proves that starting a company is in vogue, despite it being more difficult than ever to build a successful company due to extreme competition.
Regardless, entrepreneurship still remains an attractive option for every reason that working a typical job isn’t. Whether you believe millennials are entitled or empowered, this generation of workers is continuing to question the status quo when it comes to work, seeking instead meaning and purpose from their careers. Oftentimes, this means forgoing the typical 9–5 lifestyle for a chance to be able to call the shots.
That’s the position I found myself in. After graduating, I had some limited entrepreneurial experience, but I also knew I wanted to “carry the water” for someone senior to me. I value learning and experience as much as the next person.
For the past six months, I worked for a startup called Avocare, and built my company, Mero, alongside.
Recently, I chose to leave my secure job to focus on my startup full-time.
There were many long, sleepless nights, early mornings, and plenty ups and down of emotions over this period. I’m lucky enough to have emerged from the experience unscathed, but there was plenty of resilience and grit required to do so.
Multiple times, I thought about leaving the stress behind and pursuing the safer route of staying at my job. After all, as a 24-year old fresh graduate with stability, I had a lot to gain if I just bided my time and continued to learn.
I was looking over at my classmates, friends, and peers working for larger organizations. These are the people enjoying their time off, free from work and enjoying their hobbies. They had a healthy “work-life balance”, working in a consistent 8-hour window and leaving their work obligations at their desk.
I’m not wired that way.
There is no secret that human beings crave comfort. Being comfortable means security, where we satisfy our basic needs in life. The need for security can be a powerful force: it’s what keeps us in the city we grew up in, what keeps us in long-term relationships, and what keeps us at jobs we hate.
But security, at its core, comes from a place of fear. A fear of living a chaotic life. In the back of our minds, we fear the uncomfortable feeling of going through a tiring job search. We fear the uncomfortable feeling of our peers accomplishing more than us. We fear the feeling of putting ourselves out there to build a network. We fear the uncomfortable feeling of being $30k in debt with no clear path to pay it back.
Consider the weight of these problems. It certainly feels awful to have judgment passed on you. It might be difficult to reach out to that person who you think is far more accomplished than you. It definitely feels gut-wrenching to be rejected. But are these problems really so terrible?
If you’re graduating from university, you have already made it into one of the luckiest subsectors of living humans. You will have a roof over your head, you have clothes to wear, and you will have a meal at the end of the day.
If it didn’t take a sacrifice to accomplish our goals, then your goals aren’t high enough.
Things might get uncomfortable, and they will be difficult. But when it comes back to the fundamentals, the worst case scenario is to end up back exactly where you began.
The world doesn’t punish those who take a risk on themselves. In fact, it almost always rewards those people.
By no means am I recommending everyone to quit their job to become an entrepreneur. Many people feel great fulfillment from their work, their colleagues, and their management. Even more people are satisfied from their daily work, or outside of the office, allowing them to be free from the stress of running a company. Not everybody is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
But if you are one of those who cannot wait for the work-day to end so you can hustle on your side project, then I’d like to tell you something.
There is no guarantee anything in life makes it easier to leave. An endless amount of variables external to our working lives are always fluid and changing. When you are in your twenties, you will likely have the least amount of responsibility you will ever have in your career.
You will never have enough experience, and your network will never be large enough. In startups, there is bound to be a list of decisions you have to make without any a priori knowledge, so you may as well make the mistakes early on.
Trust yourself to make the best decision you can in these moments, and move on in the situations where you do not. Everybody over-analyzes at times, but being decisive in critical situations is what separates those who are in control of their life from those who let others control their lives.
Make the best decision for yourself, not what somebody is telling you to do. Whether you are building your career as an entrepreneur, or building it within an organization, constant growth and challenging yourself should be an actively practiced exercise.
Six months ago, I took a job because I wanted to learn in another environment. Back then, I felt like I was working in a silo. I wanted to test my hypotheses to see if the way I managed my own company was effective.
At Avocare, I worked for two of the most intelligent, compassionate and hard-working founders I could have ever chosen to be around, and I soaked up knowledge like a sponge. We were in the midst of launching a product to market, and I had the opportunity to influence almost every facet of the business.
What I learned at Avocare was that the answers didn’t come any easier with experience. When decisions had to be made, you went with the facts on hand in order to make the best choice. Mistakes were made, but you had to make a choice quickly in order to move forward. The same set of decision-making principles that I held at Mero, and nearly every other successful company.
Knowing that, why wouldn’t I bet on myself?
What I’ve learned in the last half-year is if you follow your core values in life, you will not end up far from your intended destination. Being able to implement the vision we share at Mero is my sole career goal. I am making the choice to go all-in on my startup because it comes back to trusting myself and my abilities.
I’m excited for what the future holds at Mero, and what we’re going to build together on the path of building connected cities of the future. We are only beginning, and I’m excited to have you along with us.
The world needs more courage. If my small contribution does anything to bring value to the world, then I’ve made the right choice.