People love to imagine themselves scaling their own idea into a company that reaches the upper echelons of those startups with the massive IPOs. But let’s be honest: for a majority of us, it’s too hard to give up the steady paycheck, profit sharing, bonus, or whatever else your employer has designed to keep you from leaving.
These incentives are hard to say goodbye to for the same reason it’s difficult to give up caffeine, tobacco, or fast food: they are convenient and addictive. Qualifying for a credit card, car loan, or mortgage that proves you do have a safe and steady income is an empowering feeling. So why would anyone give up the comfort of receiving a set amount of money each pay period in exchange for their time and effort to set off on a path and run a business that has so many risks and uncertainties?
Well, a few months ago I gave my two weeks notice to my employer, stating that I was no longer going to give in to the paycheck addiction. I was off to run the company that I founded a few years prior. Don’t get me wrong, I worked for a great company and genuinely enjoyed the people I worked with. But deep down, I knew it was time to cut the umbilical chord and head out on my own.
You shouldn’t barge into your boss’s office tomorrow to announce that you quit, especially if you don’t have a well-thought-out plan. But if you have been toying with an idea for a business or have already started one on the side, I will share some of the benefits of leaving your day job to dive into your startup.
This one is obvious. As the founder of your company, you get to call the shots. As an employee, I could only make decisions as long as I got the okay from 10 other people.
It’s amazing to see the people that come into your life once you start a business. When you are out in the world creating something that matters, people take notice and either want to share their experiences with you or connect you with someone they know who would be of value to you.
Successful entrepreneurs want to give back and share their wisdom with up and coming startup founders. I have mentors on my advisory board who have founded and scaled multimillion-dollar businesses. These people would have never taken time out of their day to mentor me if I was an employee working for a company.
Everyone asks himself or herself “what if?” at one point or another. What if you focused on your dream full time? Could you turn it into a success? These are questions you need to determine whether or not you’re okay with never finding the answers to. I knew I couldn’t look back on my life and ask myself how things would have turned out if I had only taken that chance.
I love the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s an adventure story with the underlying theme that if you follow your dreams, then the journey through life will work out for you. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of safety and security that you may become so dependent on your job, you will never get the chance to take the risk of following your true dream.
Like the story in the book, if you view life as a journey, then it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things if you take a year off from your job to give entrepreneurship a shot. If things don’t work out, the employee option is always there to fall back on.
I was always nervous about having to pay for my own health insurance and liked the fact that my employer provided me with this benefit. When I left to run my company I had to pay out of pocket for health insurance. What I realized though is that there are many inexpensive and potentially cost-saving plans for business owners.
I no longer have to wait to make sales calls or return voicemails over my lunch break. Worrying whether or not my employer is going to approve my vacation request to attend a trade show is a thing of the past. My entire day is now devoted to my business. And let me tell you, productivity has increased exponentially because of it.
When you are working on things that matter to you, it doesn’t feel like work. I’m excited to talk to customers, work on product development, and balance the accounts on QuickBooks because every effort I put in to growing my company ultimately benefits me.
How many times have you answered the question, “What do you do for a living?” The answer and conversation usually doesn’t go much further past “I’m an attorney,” “I’m an engineer,” “I’m an accountant,” etc. until you meet someone who says, “I started and run a company that does/makes XYZ . . .” These individuals get peppered with questions about their venture because they are doing something exciting and different. I once had an individual sitting next to me on a flight tell me that he was jealous that I could up and leave my job to run my company because there was no way he could take a chance like that when he had a wife, kids, and mortgage to worry about.
Daymond John said it best, “You don’t get rich off your day job, you get rich off your homework.”
—Chris Kane founded Bounceboards LLC in 2010 which is a company based around his patented sporting good products called Bounceboard® trampoline boards. He designed the products based off a need to practice aerial snowboarding tricks in the off-season. His trampoline boards are used by professional athletes, RedBull aerial awareness coaches and premiere action sports training centers along with indoor trampoline parks across the nation.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.