Thinking About Leaving your Job to Start a Company? A 3 Part Self-Test.
1. Try to build a rocket
That probably sounds crazy. But, as an entrepreneur, I have to do and create things all the time that I know very little about. For example, this week I needed to check SQL logic to figure out a user bug that we couldn’t explain. Last week, I needed to create and test advertising copy. I’m neither an engineer nor Donald Draper, but as an entrepreneur, I needed to research and learn these things to build my company. As Hipiti grows, we’ll hire more people with specialized skills to help out. But, when you first start, you’re largely on your own. If you don’t like the idea of starting with a blank piece of paper and figuring something out, you may not like building a company very much. So, go ahead and pick a challenge that sounds totally crazy and see what you come up with. You don’t have to finish it, just see if you enjoy the process of trying to solve the challenge. That could provide a good indication if building a start-up is for you.
2. Write down 5 things you do well at your current job
Ok, now let’s look at the list. How many of those things were initially recognized by your boss or peers? Did you write down things that other people told you that you did well, or did you write down things that you think you did well? When you start a company, you will be your own boss. Many people thrive on praise and compliments from peers and superiors, and it can be really tough to work without that feedback loop. Having a co-founder helps, because you can look to that person for feedback and guidance, But many times neither of you knows what’s really going to work (or how to do something new) until you’ve tried it out. So, you’ll need to be able to evaluate yourself critically, but also be able to give yourself praise when you accomplish something great. At Hipiti we like to celebrate the small victories, like when we finish a new feature or get a compliment from a customer, because it reminds us to give ourselves positive feedback, too.
3. Pitch your idea to the smartest person you know in that space. Ask them to point out all the flaws and reasons that it won’t work
That probably wasn’t very much fun! Sorry to make you do that. Are you still excited about your idea? Here’s the thing - there are going to be a lot of people who don’t think your idea (or parts of your idea) will work, and you actually really want them to tell you that. You’ll probably hear constructive feedback from initial customers, friends, potential investors, or even your mom (sorry, mom)! But it is this critical feedback that will help you to improve your product or service. Of course, you don’t need to adjust your strategy for every comment you hear – some of the feedback might be contradictory or from people who are not in your target market. But, you will hopefully start hearing some recurring themes, and that will help you build a better company (and hopefully a product that people really want). By asking that smart gal/guy the tough questions early, you’ll be starting with a lot more information. Hearing some of the potential issues earlier in the process can really help you down the line.
About the guest blogger: Rama Katkar is the cofounder of Hipiti, an online sale and shopping organization platform. To learn more about Hipiti, use this beta access link. Prior to starting Hipiti, she spent about 10 years in finance, including growth equity investing at General Atlantic Partners and at TPG Growth, where she worked closely with portfolio companies on strategy and ops initiatives. She has a B.A. in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences and Economics from Northwestern and an MBA from Stanford. Follow her on twitter @ramakatkar
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