Before I started my company in the summer of 2013, I was like many people out there working a traditional 9-to-5. By and large, things were just fine with my job. I was an executive recruiter with a fairly well-known NYC-based firm. I had a steady paycheck and commission overrides, the typical structure for someone in my position. But something was missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
It wasn’t until I took an honest, objective look at my professional goals that I quickly realized something needed to change. I realized that no matter how hard I worked, I wouldn’t get to where I wanted to be if I were working for someone else. But the question remained: What do I do about it?
After careful consideration, it became apparent the only person who could help me change my situation was me. That’s when I made the conscious decision to take a leap of faith in myself and founded my own company that recruits workers for startups — and I haven’t looked back.
It’s true that striking out on your own isn’t for everyone. After all, giving up all the trappings of “job security” and a regular paycheck can be daunting and downright scary for some. But for me, and I imagine for many others out there, I was intrigued by the notion of being an entrepreneur but didn’t know where to start. I’ve observed that many aspiring entrepreneurs can get stuck in the dreaded “paralysis by analysis” stage.
To avoid this, you must first ask yourself, “What’s the opportunity cost of not starting my own business?” In other words, what are you missing out on by not taking the leap? For many, starting a company might give them the chance to develop a healthier work-life balance, or they could gain the freedom to operate their own business the way they see fit. For others, building a brand from the ground up might be centered around creating something that will last beyond their lifetime.
These are all worthwhile goals. For me, as someone who lived through the dot-com bubble and the recent recession, I saw entrepreneurship as a better way to gain financial and professional stability. I did not want to feel as if I was relying on factors beyond my control. I wanted to succeed or fail on my own. So, why not take the leap?
You must be willing to embrace the unknown and see challenges as potential positive outcomes in your favor, rather than negative ones. You might even be doing much of the same work in your current role, without the recognition or fully recognized payday. You can’t be afraid of failure if you’re hoping to become an entrepreneur. In many cases, both at work and in life, confidence is key.
Setting realistic goals is perhaps the most challenging aspect of starting a new business, as many of us want to conquer the world right out of the gate. But this is not realistic. By taking a step back and putting forth attainable, “bite-sized” goals, you can create a recipe for long-term growth and success. Depending on your specific situation, your goal can be something as basic as adhering to a savings plan or having lines of credit available to you to fund your endeavor and weather any unforeseen hiccups. It’s also important to have a support in terms of a prospective client base. Being diligent and reaching out to your network systematically to gauge their level of interest and let them know of your plans can be a great way to fine-tune your business plan.
Finally and most importantly, stay the course. Follow your plan, and don’t be deterred by the naysayers. It’s human nature to want to go along to get along, but in my experience, you’ll only get as far as others want you to go.