I am definitely not a business consultant because a typical business consultant would call me crazy, so take my entrepreneurial advice as you wish. Business consultants always coach clients to never leave one job or business before the new venture is successful and lucrative. They say it leads to a roller-coaster ride. Believe me it does. But hey, the majority of people like roller coasters. Right?
When you hate your job the idea of jumping ship seems like a no-brainer. But if you have a well-paying job you actually like the question becomes a little more tricky. Obviously situations will vary depending on the type of corporate job you have and what kind of venture you want to start, but in general, for a person who is trying to start a new venture and wondering if they should quit a current lucrative position, my short answer is, “I would.”
Why I quit my job.
But first let me explain my situation. It was the summer of 2013. I was working around-the-clock for a Utah tech accelerator called BoomStartup after graduating from Brigham Young University. The accelerator was housed in a co-working space in downtown Provo. This co-working space expressed an interest in bringing in a coding bootcamp that at the time were only found in larger metropolitan areas like New York or San Francisco. Instead of bringing one in I, a front-end designer, teamed up with an amazing developer and a operations guru and we started our own coding bootcamp. We named it DevMountain and to this day it is housed in that same co-working space but now we have grown so much that we have taken over the whole building instead of just one room.
Back in August of 2013 DevMountain started out as side project. Our whole co-founding team treated it that way. As a result of it being a side project when my summer BoomStartup job ended I accepted a job as the Director of Business Development at a healthcare and genetics company called Tute Genomics. It was a great salary and opportunity but it was working for someone else, not myself. I was not a founder, owner, or anything close to it. I was paid, did my work, and that was it.
You cannot be two people at once.
After a few months of working at Tute Genomics I found myself caught between the two jobs. Working as an owner at DevMountain in my free-time and working as an employee at Tute Genomics as my day job was not ideal. It was horrible because I wanted to succeed so badly in both situations but time just didn’t allow it. Trying to please Tute Genomics investors and management while also pleasing my DevMountain co-founders proved difficult. In both situations I was accused of not giving my full 100% which was an accurate accusation.
I quickly came to find out that one simply cannot stay working for the man (someone else) while also truly pursuing your own business. Giving 100% of your dedication and effort to really grow your startup takes just that…100%. Since no one can clone themselves and become two people then a side has to be chosen. Otherwise half effort is given at both companies and as a result half of the job is left unfinished and all parties involved are upset and disappointed.
Go where the most value is.
After some sleepless nights I ultimately decided to quit and pursue my new business venture. The ultimate decision maker was considering the differences between being a business owner and being an employee.
I broke down what would happen scenarios if I were to stay at Tute Genomics or quit to work on my own business. At Tute I would have been earning a nice yearly salary. But it is just that, a yearly salary. No more no less. At DevMountain I would be earning less in salary, but the equity I had in the company of being an owner and co-founder was worth more than that yearly salary. Especially if my co-founders and I were to focus 100% on DevMountain and grow it into an even more successful business than it already was. The choice to me was clear, quit Tute Genomics.
Some people crave security and would never be happy in the variable world of the entrepreneur, but that is not me. I enjoy the risk (and reward) of building my own company. A day job requires no risk but grants little reward. In my situation I had to go where my focused effort, time, and skills would give me the biggest return. I literally wrote down both choices on a piece of paper and found that the situation with the most value for my family and I was/is my own company, DevMountain.
That is exactly what I did, in August of 2014, I quit my day job to work full time on my startup.
Everything worth having takes time, and patience, passion, and perseverance. All of which are important foundational elements for an entrepreneur. When I quit my job to work at DevMountain I most certainly took a pay cut. I no longer have the nice cushion of a padded pay check every month. But as I said before, in the long run, after everything is said an done, DevMountain will be the better choice. As an entrepreneur you deal in patience, you can take steps every day to work on doing something to improve, build, and construct your new venture.
Get your personal life in order before making the switch.
It has only been a couple of months since quitting my job and joining DevMountain, the company I co-founded full-time, but I can say my stress levels have decreased and my quality of life has improved. I love having the ability to create, build, and grow my own venture, rather than doing it for someone else’s.
Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of grit. It is critical to ensure that your personality has the drive to forge your own agendas. Make sure your personal life can uphold what you are about to take on. If your loved one doesn’t approve of you quitting your current job, it is going to be really hard to be successful building your own company. Make sure you are in a state of life/mind where eating ramen for a couple months or more isn’t that big of deal.
Success starts with you as a leader. But you can only lead if you have followers. Make sure your family is on board, or you will never hear the end of it. Balance the opinion ultimately with what your own mind is telling you. It is a tricky task.
The question of quitting your job to work on your own business is probably one of the hardest one to go about finding a suitable answer to that doesn’t sound outright crazy. It’s in fact such a hard one, that I often see people avoid the question, forever. I say, you will never know what could have been with your own venture if you laser focus on it, but you will always know what will come year in and year out at your current job working for someone else. That’s why I quit my job.