Please note that this post is second in the series formerly called ‘Taking the Leap: Job Holder to Jobless and Beyond‘ now called ‘Entrepreneurship for the Employed‘. After our Why? post here’s the How? post. In this post Ill say what I think are the best ways to prepare mentally for the leap and test if your answers are true.
In situations of extreme monotony, its not uncommon of think of entrepreneurship as the best way to escape the mindnumbing monotony. It is dangerous to the self if this escape route to monotony is mistaken for passion. The problem with turning into an entrepreneur from employed is by the time you realize, its a bit too late and your loans are upon you and your financial situation has turned horrible. Use some mantras (which are actually heuristics) to see if you really are fit to take the hit.
Mantra 1. Evaluate Financial Hit Resistance (most obvious yet most underrated)
Monthly operating costs for the enterprise, costs to sustain your basic needs of food, clothing, rent & entertainment, unforeseen liabilities, all these are the compulsory basic expenditure from your pocket. Now add a couple of ten grand per annum to pay for those Mutual Fund bonds, PPF or any funds you have invested in to escape the tax net. Now add a few more grand if you have a bike loan, car loan or some education loans to take care of. Sum all of these expenditure up. Find how much it costs you per month. Now just calculate & see how long your savings can take care of your expenditure, if it comes to less than 6-7 months, be forewarned, the first important thing to kill your enterprise would be yourself by not supplying enough capital.
And give it a second thought as how long you can survive like that. Can you take a financial drought hit like that for 6-7 months and still stay in the game?Assume this zero-revenue period as 5-6 months for a service company; for a product company make it atleast 9-12 months.
Mantra 2. Test your passion
Do you strongly and fervently believe that the amount of time you give to your enterprise is being sidelined because of your full day job? That your passion is being unfulfilled because of a serious lack of time? Ok then, try the following tests.
- If you have normal 8 hour shift or a normal day time job do this. Allocate daily 2-3 hours for working on your idea/passion/project. Change your weekends to be `full-day-job` days. Note down your progress, evaluate it and find if you are going anywhere… If frankly your passion is there where your reason is, you must be making progress & now maybe the time to quit becuase the time spent on this will be much more valuable than you do by sticking with this model. Else cheerio to venturing…
- Take a complete leave for about a month (comes to 22 days which you already must have accrued if you used them well) and start working in the project. Are you ready to work in such a unstructured, chaotic environment? Are you ok being the CEO, COO, peon, clerk, accountant, developer, QA? Are you ready for this sort of thing and sure it will not turn to be a monotony? Answer them well my padawan for they are the answers to your destiny.
Passion is not about having the time but getting it and squeezing everything you can. No time is not a very good excuse for not work diligently about your passions, if we are truthful to the self.
Mantra 3: Time your exit
Timing your entry and exit is a very important part of life of a startup; so it is in your corporate lifespan too. Be very aware of the policies of your company while you are quitting from it. Is there a time period for the PF or gratuity to be vested to you? And where do you stand in that time line? Is this time period negotiable to you?
I had been careless in my side [or assumed no issues] where i did not actually find anything of the vesting process of the PF/Gratuity of my former company; as a result of this by leaving 20 days before my 2 year service, I was not able to take my Gratuity amount in full. Do your corporate homework.
Mantra 4: Be prepared for delays
As against the highly overpampered environment in a MNC, where sending a mail solves all your problems (ok, not as magical as that, but the bureaucracy headaches are a minimum); it will be a strange experience how slow things can go on. Dont expect your client to respond to your requirements document by tonight, ping you back, setup a conference call and finish it in an hour. Expect an average of atleast a 3 days – a week’s delay for any response; which actually makes you more vulnerable to disaster (think of all the money lost during the times of zero productivity!).
Mantra 5: Sense of urgency / Demo Fast/ Proto first
In the same vein of relaxed work, life heading a startup can be pretty hectic. Considering that your captial resources (read savings) are constant and constantly depleting faster and faster every month, it makes sense to jump into the idea as quickly as possible (of course assuming you’ve done your homework). Dont wait for anything else, only aim to demo fast and prototype faster. Work with a sense of urgency on everything: your meetings with your team (keep them short, straight for deux sakes), that protocol setup, everything… F.A.S.T.